Will A Duck Bite A Human?
Ducks are often lovely pets and farm animals to have. Their friendly personalities and gentle natures are reasons why so many people decide to raise ducks. However, if your duck is displaying signs of aggression, it can make anyone worry about what the cause may be.
Do ducks bite? Both male and female ducks will bite if they feel threatened. Female ducks will often bite if you are posing a risk to their eggs or ducklings while male ducks, or drakes, will bite if they think you’re invading their territory or threatening their mate. Ducks may also bite in a playful manner to show familiarity.
Even though ducks don’t have teeth, it can hurt to get bit by one! Knowing how to tell when a duck feels threatened and when it may apt to bite you can help you take the necessary actions to de-escalate the situation. To learn more about why ducks bite, keep reading!
Reasons Why Ducks Bite
If you have a problem with a duck trying to bite you, it’s important to find out why the duck is displaying such behavior. Knowing the cause of the biting can help you come up with an effective solution. Here is a list of reasons why ducks bite both humans and other animals:
Ducks Bite to Protect Each Other and Their Offspring
Ducks are prey animals; this means they face many predators that will try to eat them or their eggs or ducklings. As prey animals, ducks will be wary of anything they aren’t familiar with, including humans. Because of this, ducks may feel threatened by you approaching their nest or their family. Their first line of defense will be to bite you to try and keep you away.
Female ducks incubate their eggs for around 28 days and raise their ducklings over a two-month period. During this time, they will act as the protective parent and show aggression to any animal or human that threatens their offspring. Drakes, or male ducks, will often bite to protect their mate from other males or to protect their team from threats.
Ducks Bite to Establish Dominance
Male ducks are known to be more aggressive than females. They will bite other ducks, other animals, and even humans to establish their dominance. Drakes will establish territory boundaries by chasing and biting any other male duck or animal that comes too close.
If kept in with chickens, male ducks will often bully chickens by biting them and pulling out their feathers. If you plan on keeping your ducks and chickens together, it’s important to keep an eye out for this behavior. If you see your ducks biting the chickens, you should keep the birds separate.
A duck that has been isolated from other birds may be more apt to demonstrate dominant behavior with humans. Learn about the downsides of keeping ducks by themselves by visiting my article Do Ducks Get Lonely? What You Need to Know.
Ducks Bite to Attract Mates
Drakes bite to get the attention of females. When it’s time to find a mate, male ducks can be especially aggressive towards females. Males will bite females and even pull out their feathers. While this behavior can be alarming, it is usual for drakes to be aggressive. If you plan on breeding ducks, this behavior may be a normal occurrence.
Ducks Bite As a Sign of Familiarity
Ducks may nibble and lightly bite you as a sign of familiarity. If you regularly feed ducks out of your hand, they may start to nip at you to ask for food. This is common behavior for ducklings as they start to get more familiar with you. A duck that is just being friendly will rarely bite hard, but instead will do light pecks or nibbles.
A duck that has bonded to humans may be more apt to demonstrate this type of behavior compared to one that is still untrusting of humans. You can learn more reading my article Do Ducks Bond With Humans?
Ducks Bite If They Are Injured or Sick
While this is a less common reason why ducks may bite, ducks may be more apt to bite if they have been injured or if they’re sick. An injured duck is more susceptible to predators, so it may naturally be more aggressive to provide itself with protection. If the duck bit you because you touched it, it could be a sign that the duck is in pain. If your duck is exhibiting more aggressive behavior than normal, the first thing you should do is check it for injury or sickness.
How to Tell if A Duck is About to Bite
While some duck bites may happen randomly, there are often signs that a duck is about to bite. If you can recognize these signs, you can keep yourself safe from a sharp beak. Here are some ways to tell that a duck is about to bite:
A Duck That Is About to Bite Will Hiss at You
Ducks often communicate not only through body language but also with vocal cues. One vocalization that you will hear your duck use is hissing. Ducks will usually hiss when they are feeling threatened and want to warn you not to come any closer. If a duck has yet to learn to trust you and recognize you as a friend, they can feel easily threatened and put in danger by your presence. Be aware that if you continue to approach the duck even after they’ve hissed at you, the duck will likely try to bite you.
A Duck That Is About to Bite Will Flap Its Wings
Ducks will use body language to communicate with each other and humans what they are feeling. One behavior ducks exhibit, especially drakes trying to show dominance, is they’ll puff themselves up and flap their wings. Since ducks are smaller creatures, they try to make themselves look bigger and more intimidating to ward off predators and to show you who’s in charge. If you notice this behavior in your ducks, be cautious that it may be followed with a bite!
A Duck That Is About to Bite Will Charge at You
Rarely do ducks randomly bite you; in their mind, they usually have a good reason. If a duck has had enough and has given you the warning signs not to come any closer but you continue to ignore them, the duck may charge at you before biting. Oftentimes, as ducks charge, they may also flap their wings and squawk loudly as one last effort to get you out of the way.
Does Getting Bit By a Duck Hurt?
While ducks may be small and seem non-threatening, getting bit by one can hurt! If you get bit by a duck, you may be wondering what you should do next and how you should treat the bite. Here’s what you need to know:
Do Ducks Have Teeth?
Ducks do not have teeth, but they do have a flat spatulate bill or beak that works to crush food just as teeth would. This means that a Duck doesn’t bite with teeth, but instead with their beak. A spatulate-shape beak enables a duck to painfully pinch you when they bite.
While ducks don’t have teeth, they have a structures in their mouths similar to that of baleen whales. Ducks have lamellae, a filtration system within their mouths that enables them to filter food out of water or mud. If you look closely, you can visibly see the fringe of the lamellae inside a duck’s mouth.
What Does Getting Bit By a Duck Feel Like?
The feeling of getting bit by a duck can vary depending on the duck’s intentions. A friendly duck that may just be looking for some food may nibble and tickle you while a duck that may be trying to show dominance with give you a sharp pinch with their beak. Lastly, a threatened duck may grab and pull at your skin, which can be quite painful.
Can A Duck Bite Make You Bleed?
A serious duck bite will usually leave bruising or swelling, but can on occasion cause bleeding. A sharp pinch will often break blood vessels underneath the skin, which will lead to bruising. If the duck bite is able to break skin, then you may experience bleeding.
Most ducks have a downward point at the tip of their top beak called a nail. While the nail of the beak enables them to dig through dirt, it can also cause injury if the duck were to bite you.
How Should You Treat a Duck Bite?
The only time you need to treat a duck bite is if the bite has caused skin to break. This would then lead to an open wound, which is more susceptible to bacteria and infection. You’ll first want to clean the bite with an antiseptic, then cover the wound in order to keep bacteria and debris away. While duck bites don’t usually lead to serious injuries or illnesses, you should monitor the wound and see a doctor if it gets worse.
Ducks can pass infections on to humans, the most popular being salmonella. If you are concerned that your duck has been infected and has bit you, you should contact a doctor right away.
Do you want to get ducks but you’re afraid they may not get along with your other animals? To learn more, check out my article Do Ducks and Dogs Get Along With Each Other?