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How to Care for a Mother Duck & Her New Ducklings

| Updated September 26, 2017

Things You'll Need

  • Pelleted mash

  • Hard-boiled eggs

  • Worms

  • Tomatoes

  • Vegetables

  • Fresh water

  • Small swimming pool

  • Shelter

  • Heat lamp

If you find a mother duck and her ducklings stranded by the side of the road or even in your own backyard, you probably don’t know how to properly feed and care for the animals. Caring for these animals is significantly different from caring for dogs, cats or domestic pets.

Feed the mother duck a diet that’s at least 15 percent protein and 20 percent protein for the ducklings. Pelleted mash, which is available from pet supply stores, is a top choice. If you can’t find that, make your own mix by using chopped up hard-boiled eggs or worms for protein. Both the mash and homemade protein should be supplemented with chopped tomatoes or other vegetables.

Place a large source of clean, fresh drinking water near the food for the ducks. Ducks use water to aid in the digestion of food. As they don’t have teeth to chew the food, they take a mouthful of water to break down the food before swallowing.

Fill a small swimming pool with fresh water and keep it out for the mother duck and ducklings. Ducks need the space for playing, but watch out when the ducklings are younger. Until the ducks are around 35-40 days old, they lack fully formed feathers. They quickly absorb water and may drown if left alone in the water.

Give the ducks a shelter, but avoid those with wire bottoms as it might damage their feet. Use a shelter that’s big enough for the ducks to move around freely, but also provides space where they can hide from other animals in the neighborhood. The shelter should also have an umbrella or some type of item on the outside the provides shade from the hot sun.

Use a heat light or light bulb of 100 watts inside the shelter, especially when the ducklings are young, or if they’re mother is gone. It’s also important to use a heat lamp if you live in a colder climate or the nights get cold. The heat keeps the ducklings warm and protects them from the cold.


  • Watch the ducklings for signs of dehydration, such as panting. Also, watch for signs that the ducklings are too cold. They usually sleep clumped together in an attempt to get warm.