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Why Do Ducks Bite? Everything You Need to Know

Do ducks bite

Have you ever walked into a coop and been greeted with a duck bite? If yes, you may wonder, “why do ducks bite you” when they used to be gentle birds?

In this article, we will discuss:

  • Why do ducks bite, and what happens when they attack you
  • How painful is a duck bite, and how should you treat 
  • How to prevent ducks from biting you and protect yourself from their beaks

So if your waterfowl is acting and becoming aggressive, you have come to the right place.

And even if you’re just planning to add a duck to your flock, learning why they may become unfriendly is crucial, especially if you have a child who loves to play with ducks.

Why Do Ducks Bite infographics

Do Ducks Bite? 

Yes, male and female ducks will bite you when they feel threatened. Even if ducks don’t have teeth, they can attack you with their large bills and hurt you. 

Drakes tend to be more aggressive than females, so there’s a higher risk that they’ll bite you than the females. 

Do baby ducks bite?

Ducklings rarely bite humans unless they think your hand is food.

But why do baby ducks bite each other? They may be fooling around or playing, but they don’t seriously hurt each other.

Do ducks bite each other?

Ducks can be aggressive to each other when they’re competing for food or space or chasing away other ducks to protect their ducklings.

Why Do Ducks Bite You?

There is a wide range of reasons why ducks bite you and other flock members. It could be due to biological, medical, or behavioral issues. 

But sometimes, they’re probably biting for devotion or to ask for help. 

So, let’s discuss the common reasons why ducks bite:

1. They’re Threatened

Since ducks are prey animals, they can be wary of their surroundings and act violently when exposed to something they’re unfamiliar with or predators.

And they may feel at times that you’re a predator that might attack their partner, eggs, or baby ducklings.

Female ducks may feel threatened by your presence during their laying season, and at the time that they’re raising their young ducks.

At this period, they may become protective of their young ones and aggressive towards humans or animals that might threaten them.

2. Sexual Aggression

Waterfowls develop sexual urges when they turn 5 to 6 months old. They may act angrier and bite to attract a female duck and even pull out their feathers. 

And they may consider their humans as their potential mates, so they may also bite you during the peak of their hormones.

3. Dominance Aggression

Waterfowl, especially male ducks, who are more aggressive, bite to show dominance. They may attack you or other birds to show their power and dominance or to save their partners from danger.

They may also bite other ducks to chase them away from their established territory. 

Drakes may also bully chickens and pull out their feathers to show they’re stronger.

So, if your male ducks are aggressive towards other birds, it may not be a good idea to keep them together in one chicken coop.

4. Physical Irritation or Pain

A duck may become more sensitive and aggressive when irritated or in pain or discomfort.

It may bite you to let you know how it feels and to ask for help whether it’s injured or sick or to protect itself or any predator.

5. Dietary Problems

If your ducks’ dietary needs aren’t met, they may become stressed, unhappy, and aggravated. So, they may bite you to ask for food.

It’s more likely to happen if you used to feed your waterfowl using your hand. 

do baby ducks bite

Do Ducks Bite Other Animals?

Let’s talk about other animals.

If you have other animals on your farm and you’re worried ducks may attack them, this section will help you gain more insight into waterfowls.

Do ducks bite chickens?

Chickens are more aggressive, but ducks may sometimes attack them when they live together in uncomfortable living conditions or when the chickens are new to the flock.

Your waterfowl may get threatened and decide to bite the chicken. 

They may also bully chickens and pull out their feathers to establish their dominance in the flock.

Do ducks bite dogs?

Curious or aggressive ducks may try to bite a dog, but it can be risky for them since dogs are far stronger than them.

They may end up injuring each other but ducks are at a higher risk since dogs have sharp teeth. 

How to Know if a Duck Is About to Bite You?

Look out for the following signs that may indicate that a duck is about to bite you to protect yourself:


Ducks communicate through body language and vocal cues like hissing. When you hear a hissing sound, that means that your waterfowl feels threatened.

It’s also a warning sign that you shouldn’t come any closer because it’ll likely bite you. 

Flapping of Wings

The second tell-tale sign that a duck is planning to bite you is when it’s flapping its wings.

It’s the ducks’ way of showing their dominance as they try to look themselves bigger and more intimidating and scare predators off.

So, if you notice your duck flapping its wings while approaching you, look out for it may be followed by a bite.

Charging At You

A duck may charge at you before biting you if it has had enough and has signaled you not to get any closer, but you continue to ignore them.

Ducks frequently flap their wings and squawk loudly as they charge in an effort to move you out of the way.

what happens if a duck bites you

What Happens if a Duck Bites You?

A serious duck bite can be painful and lead to bruising or bleeding. Male drakes tend to be more aggressive and bite more often. 

How Much Does a Duck Bite Hurt?

The pain can range from a pinch to a peck or grapple, depending on how much force your duck induces on its bite. Some brutal attacks may cause an open wound.

What to Do if You Get Bitten by a Duck?

If the bite is serious and causes an open wound, you need to treat it as soon as possible because it can be susceptible to bacteria and infections. 

Ducks can spread viruses and infections like Salmonella. But how can you treat it if you can’t contact a doctor immediately?

How to Treat a Duck Bite

Here are some tips on how to treat a duck bite by yourself.

  1. Check how serious the wound is and if the bite did break your skin. If it did, you might need a pain reliever to reduce the swelling and pain. If it’s deep and bleeding profusely, you may need to seek medical attention.
  2. If you can take care of it without medical assistance, make sure to clean the wound thoroughly with soap and water to prevent infection. 
  3. The next step is to disinfect the duck bite wound to reduce the risk of infection. Apply a disinfectant, then dry it with sterile gauze. It may sting a bit, but it’s worth it. 
  4. Apply an antibiotic ointment coating to eliminate the remaining bacteria and create a protective barrier. It can also help the wound heal faster.
  5. Lastly, protect the wound from bacteria and dirt and ensure the medicine stays in place using a clean, sterile bandage.

can ducks bite your finger off

How to Stop a Duck From Biting You

How you handle a biting duck varies depending on why it attacks you. 

If it’s biting you to establish its dominance, let him know that you’re stronger and the top drake and the boss. 

Don’t run away when he comes at you. 

Wear jeans and boots to prevent him from gripping your leg.

You can either hold its bill or carry it for a while, not allowing it to move a bit or pin him to the ground. Keep his flaps immovable for at least 5 minutes.

It will take several minutes for it to understand your message, but it should be able to see that he shouldn’t mess up with you.

Stay calm and make sure he can breathe and will not get injured. Just put enough weight, so he’ll know you’re physically stronger.

Don’t be gentle. Otherwise, you’ll have to repeat the process since it might attack you.

And lastly, don’t feed him with your hands while showing aggressive behavior and establishing dominance, and don’t pet him.

How to Prevent Duck From Biting You

Here are the steps of the intervention you can take to prevent duck biting.

  1. Take your duck to your vet to ensure it’s not suffering from an injury, illness, or infection that makes it aggressive.
  2. Then, try using a different feed for your waterfowl and look out for some behavioral changes.
  3. Add more female ducks into the flock to ensure the drakes’ biological needs are met.
  4. Submission to an aggressive duck can lead it on, so never let it peck you to warm up to him after its attack. You need to make it loud and clear that you’re the boss, and he shouldn’t mess up with you.

How to Tame An Aggressive Duck

It’s best to start taming a duck at a young age. But if you haven’t and your duck is now aggressive, here are some tips on how to tame it:

1. Spend time to make your ducks get accustomed to you and talk to them. You don’t have to pet or touch them. Just let them know that your presence would bring no harm.

2. Give your ducks some delicious treats whenever you walk into their house, like tomatoes, bananas, frozen peas, mealworms, earthworms, or whatever your waterfowl’s favorite is. In time, they’ll be able to associate your arrival with the arrival of treats.

3. After several weeks, start feeding them treats using your hands but at a long distance. Reduce the distance over time as they get used to it.

4. If you’re successful with the third step, you may now start touching their backside with one finger.

5. Keep it moving until you get to hold them without you getting bitten.

Since many ducks don’t like being raised, avoid lifting them off the ground when they show signs of aggressiveness.

Furthermore, you need to avoid stressing your duck out.

How to Tell A Stressed Duck?

Duck’s aggressive behavior and biting habit can be due to stress. So you need to look closely if your waterfowl have been experiencing stress.

One of the minor stress symptoms is the reduction of eggs laid. And if your duck keeps sitting on its feet around and rising only temporarily, that could indicate stress.

Other major stress symptoms include lethargy, puffed feathers, loss of appetite, watery poop, and a tendency to distance himself from mates.

Common Questions Related to Why Do Ducks Bite

What does it mean when a duck bites you?

Ducks may bite you when it is threatened by your presence or wants to protect their partner or territory.

Female ducks may bite to protect their eggs, but drakes who are more likely to be aggressive may think of you as a potential mate and bite you to gain attention.

Are ducks aggressive to humans?

Even if ducks can become acclimated to humans, there’s still a chance that they may become aggressive towards you, especially the drakes.

They’re highly territorial and they don’t appreciate a human that invades their territory.

Do ducks bite if you pick them up?

Ducks may feel threatened and terrified when you pick them up, which can urge them to bite you. But pet ducks who are used to petting and handling may be gentle to you. 

Why does my duck open its mouth at me?

A duck may open its mouth to take in more air and cool itself down because it may be suffering from dehydration, stress, or hot weather. It doesn’t necessarily mean it’s angry at you or becoming aggressive. 

Do ducks have germs?

Ducks and other bird species can carry bacteria like Salmonella, which can be shed into their droppings. It can easily contaminate their bodies, spread to humans, and cause infectious diseases. 

Why do ducklings bite each other?

Baby ducklings rarely bite, but if they do, they’re probably just playing with each other or competing for crucial things such as space and food. 

Do baby ducks bite hurt?

Yes, baby ducks’ bite can be painful, but the pain ranges from a slight pinch to a strong grab.

Ducklings may not be able to use strong force, but they may still sting you. 

Do ducks bite to show affection?

Biting is a sign of aggression in ducks. It’s not one of their methods of expressing affectionate feelings, but rather, it’s a way of telling them they feel threatened or displeased with their humans.

How strong is a duck bite?

A duck’s bite ranges from a harmless pinch to a strong grab that can cause bleeding on your skin.

Is a duck bite dangerous?

A duck bite can cause a painful bruise or wound that may need medical attention. But can ducks bite your finger off?

They don’t have the teeth to bite your finger off, but they can break the skin and induce bleeding.

How do ducks bite?

Ducks bite by nipping at their human’s legs, fingers, or any part of their body and inducing force. They don’t have a set of teeth, but adult waterfowls are strong enough to cause a wound.

is a duck bite dangerous

Why Do Ducks Bite: Our Final Thoughts

Now that you know why do ducks bite, we hope you’d refrain from tossing them around or giving them punishment or negative reinforcement techniques to discipline them.

Culling is the only resort, either.

Since hierarchy and dominance are innate parts of every duck’s life, you need to teach your waterfowl to follow you, say “no” to its anger pangs, and establish your dominance instead.

And if your duck acknowledges your power and learns to show proper behavior, give him a well-deserved treat!

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