17 Duck Predators – Common And Not-So-Common Ones

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Last updated on May 10th, 2024 at 07:37 pm

When you have ducks (or other animals), you want them to be safe, of course. To do so, it is good to know what predators you have in the area you are living in. This may determine what safety measures you need to implement to protect your flock.

This blog post will review 17 duck predators; some of them are common threads for ducks, and some are not-so-common or not-so-obvious ones.

Want to learn more about predator-proofing your duck run and coop? Read more in the following blog post:

Canine Duck Predators

1. Dogs

This could be your own dog(s) if they are not used to ducks, but also ducks from neighbors or strays that jump your fence and attack your ducks. Depending on the breed, the wounds they can make might even be deadly. But dogs are not always a thread. Some dogs are really lovely to ducks and become good friends with them. Some dogs are even utilized as guard dogs to protect ducks (and other farm animals) from other predators.

aggressive dog
Dog

2. Foxes

You may have heard of the children’s song ‘Fuchs, du hast die Gans gestohlen’ (Fox you stole the goose). Guess what? They also love ducks! They make a good meal for them. They also don’t mind their eggs. Foxes carry the birds to their den and sometimes bury some of them to eat later.

Once a fox knows about your ducks, it will return night after night until they’re all gone. Thus, a determined fox is a very bad predator to have.

fox
Fox

Foxes are very smart and can easily find their way into a coop by digging under fences, squeezing through small holes, and busting through the wire mesh. Since foxes (and the other canine predators) are good diggers, you should consider that when planning and building the coop. Burying hardware cloth skirts around the coop is a standard solution for that.

The signs of a fox in the coop are indicated by blood, bloody feathers, and possibly paw prints. There may also be a lingering smell. Foxes can hunt during the day and at night but are most active at night.

Foxes have also been known to abduct ducks that are out free-ranging, never to be seen again. Foxes are so sly that you may not even see evidence that they took your duck. You may even think they were scooped by a bird of prey instead.

3. Coyotes

Coyotes are widespread across North America. Coyotes are equally as common in cities as they are in rural areas. Sometimes, you will find them living under decks and porches. They’re most active at night; you might even hear them yipping and yowling.

coyote
Coyote

Coyotes usually carry off the birds and are both avid diggers and jumpers. A coyote has a jump height of over six feet. Coyote attacks in duck coops are very much the same as the foxes: scattered feathers, blood, bloody feathers, and possibly paw prints.

Generally, Coyotes will not bother to attack a coop or secure area. Instead, they prefer to go after free-range ducks and carry them off.

4. Wolves

The wolf is a large canine native to Eurasia and North America. Wolves are the big brothers of coyotes and are not that widespread in the cities. However, because they are larger and stronger, they are far more dangerous, not only to your birds but also to you.

wolf
Wolf

5. Bears

Bears are carnivoran mammals of the family Ursidae. Interestingly, they are classified as doglike carnivorans. There are eight species of bears, and they are widespread, appearing in a wide variety of habitats and are found on the continents of North America, South America, Europe, and Asia.

baer
Baer

Baers are very strong and dangerous animals. Don’t try to mess with them. They can easily destroy your duck coop with their strong paws. They can also easily tear down fences and are excellent climbers.

The best way to defend your flock is by not giving a bear a reason to visit you in the first place. Bears are usually attracted by the smell, so you need to keep your feed in secure containers and not keep garbage close to your coop.

If you happen to live in an area with a bear population, an electric fence may be something to consider.

Feline Duck Predators

6. Cats

Many cats are strolling around through the neighborhood and may visit your property. While cats are probably less of a threat than dogs, they can still injure your ducks if they choose violence. Cats are probably afraid of adult ducks but may want to defend themselves if they feel threatened. But if you have ducklings, cats might be very interested in them. It could be that they want to play with them (which can cause injuries), or they may think that they are a nice small snack for them.

cat eating bird
Cat

7. Bobcats

The bobcat (Lynx rufus), also known as the red lynx, is a medium-sized cat native to North America. The bobcat can survive for long periods without food but eats heavily when prey is abundant. This is why they will come back until all your ducks are gone.

bobcat
Bobcat

Big Cats also carry off the birds, but they cover them with sticks, leaves, and dirt just like they would cover them with litter. If one of these cats got in your coop, you will see signs of scratch marks around the area where they killed the bird. The good news is that they do not dig like foxes and coyotes. Therefore, they can jump pretty well and will climb on the coop. Make sure the coop is sturdy and also has a solid roof. It is also advised to use 1/4 inch hardware cloth that they cannot reach inside with their paws.

We have bobcats in our area, and we caught one on camera trying to get into our duck coop. Luckily, it was sturdy enough, and our ducks stayed safe. See for yourself how scared or ducks were:

8. Cougars

The cougar (Puma concolor) is a large cat native to the Americas and has many common names, including puma, mountain lion, catamount, and panther. Its range spans from the Canadian Yukon to the southern Andes in South America and is the most widespread of any large wild terrestrial mammal in the Western Hemisphere.

cougar
Cougar

The cougar is a generalist, a hypercarnivore. They prefer large mammals such as mule deer, white-tailed deer, elk, moose, mountain goats, and bighorn sheep. However, they will opportunistically take smaller prey, such as your ducks. Since they are larger than bobcats, they are also far more dangerous.

Other Mammals as Duck Predators

9. Raccoons

The raccoon (Procyon lotor) is a mammal native to North America.

Raccoons are incredibly smart, intelligent, and resourceful. They look very lovable and cuddly, but these striped bandits are fierce and adaptable predators. Raccoons are wily creatures and will tag team with one of the raccoons scaring the birds to one side of the coop or running where another coon is waiting to scoop them up.

raccoon
Raccoon

They also can pull out staples, open windows, and unlatch doors. Raccoons kill and eat the birds right in the coop or run. Signs of raccoons include puncture marks on the head and partially consumed birds. Other signs are that only the head and crop are eaten, the ducks are pulled through fencing and are partially eaten, there are empty eggshells in the coop, a faint musky odor, and roughly 5-7 nights between each attack.

You should use 1/4 inch hardware cloth instead of chicken wire to protect your flock. It is also advised to use more complex locks, as raccoons can easily open simple latches.

10. Skunks

Skunks are mammals known for their ability to spray a liquid with a strong, unpleasant scent from their anal glands. They are primarily found in the Americas.

Skunks are opportunists, and as such, they do not stalk ducks. Skunks are far more likely to eat eggs and ducklings. If skunks are desperate, they certainly will kill and eat ducks, generally going for the bird’s throat. Keeping your coop locked and secure will prevent skunks from attacking your flock. Key signs include stolen eggs, dead ducklings, and a faint stunk odor.

skunk
Skunk

11. Weasels

Weasels are small carnivores with very elongated, slender bodies. Most of them live in the Northern Hemisphere and belong to the Mustela genus. In addition to weasels, another 17 species of ferrets and polecats, as well as the mink and the ermine, belong to the family of Mustelidae. Along with their tubelike bodies, weasels have small, flattened heads, long, flexible necks, and short limbs, which makes it easy for them to get through small openings and, thus, into duck coops.

weasel
Weasel

Minks and weasels are notorious for killing for fun. They’ll often kill birds and leave them dead in the coop, then kill another. They can access tiny spaces, such as 1.5-inch holes, and will kill far more ducks than they need for food. It might be a weasel if your bird has been killed but is still intact. Or if your duck’s intestines have been pulled out, then there is a high probability that a weasel has also attacked your flock.

12. Opossums

Opossums are members of the marsupial order Didelphimorphia, endemic to the Americas. The most significant order of marsupials in the Western Hemisphere comprises 93 species in 18 genera. The Virginia opossum is the only species found in the United States and Canada. It is often simply referred to as an opossum or just as a possum. Although all living opossums are essentially opportunistic omnivores, different species vary in the amount of meat and vegetation they include in their diet.

opossum in coop
Opossum

Opossums are relatively lazy and rarely attack grown and healthy birds. However, they will happily eat the eggs and ducklings if they can access them. They may also eat the duck food, so make sure to take it away during the night and collect your eggs every morning not to give them any reason to snoop around the coop. Keep the coop closed to protect your flock, especially when you have ducklings around. You can tell that an opossum raided your coop when you find mashed eggs. Possums are messy eaters that tend to chew the shells into small pieces and leave them in the nest.

Birds of Prey

13. Hawks, Eagles, and Falcons

There are over 23 species of hawks in North America; common species include Red-Tailed Hawks, Coopers Hawks, Eagles, Kites, and Harriers.

falcon flying
Falcon

Hawks are common predators for ducks, especially when your flock is free-ranging. Many species have adapted well to the urban landscape and can be seen in towns and cities. Hawks have excellent eyesight and can spot their prey from as far as two miles away. Hawks will only kill to survive, not for fun like other predators, such as the raccoon.

Hawks prefer to hunt during the day in open fields, which makes it easier for them to pick up their prey. This is why your ducks are especially vulnerable when they are free-ranging in a yard with no trees or bushes to hide. But when hungry, they will also attack in less open environments.

Hawks are deadly birds known for killing rodents and other prey animals such as ducks and chickens. Once they’ve spotted a duck, they will swoop down and grab it with their powerful talons before they bring it to a safe place to eat. And they are fast! You will rarely find any signs of predation; your ducks will just disappear.

To protect your ducks from birds of prey, you should either only allow them to free range when supervised (by humans or guard dogs) or install avian netting. Covering the whole area with bird netting is advised because hawks are intelligent and can quickly spot gaps. Some people use scarecrows, reflective items, or owl decoys. This may help for a few days to deter hawks, but they are smart enough to realize soon that these items are no actual threads to them and will try to attack again. You would need to change the locations of these distractors regularly.

14. Owls

There are over 200 species of owls worldwide. They are nocturnal birds, meaning they hunt in the darkness. They have excellent night vision and binaural hearing. They usually hunt for small mammals, insects, and other birds. Larger species might even attack l larger birds, such as our ducks.

owl flying
Owl

Much of the owls’ hunting strategy depends on stealth and surprise. An owl’s sharp beak and powerful talons allow it to kill its prey before swallowing it whole (if it is not too big). To best protect your flock from owls, you should lock them up before dark inside a covered coop.

Others Duck Predators

15. Snakes

There are over 3,000 species of snakes, and they are found almost anywhere on this planet. Only about 600 of them are venomous. Most of the non-venomous snakes are (relatively) harmless, with some exceptions, like the python. Depending on where you live, you will have different types of snakes you should know.

snake
Snake

Snakes are primarily interested in eggs and young ducklings (less than four weeks). Snake predation can be hard to identify because snakes can eat an egg whole, so the only sign of intrusion is a missing egg. The aftermath of a snake’s egg-eating activity differs from that of raccoons, skunks, or opossums, which typically leave shells behind after eating eggs.

The size of the hole a snake needs to get into your coop depends on the size of the snake. Typically, snakes can enter through gaps that are 1/4-inch in diameter or smaller and do not cause predation damage. Sometimes, the snakes cannot exit the coop after swallowing their prey because they will no longer fit through the gap. In this case, they may just sleep inside the coop until it is digested enough. I have heard of cases where they feel stressed and threatened by ducks and have attacked them, especially when the ducks try to defend their eggs or ducklings.

Snakes can be beneficial because they are excellent pest control and keep the number of rats and mice in check. They can easily be deterred by water, so spraying with a water hose at them will usually scare them away if they come too close to you or the coop.

16. Snapping Turtles

Snapping turtles (Chelydra serpentina) are the silent assassins of the pond, masters of ambush with lightning-fast reflexes. Their powerful jaws, lined with razor-sharp teeth, can snap shut with a force of over 100 pounds per square inch – enough to crush a small animal whole. Armed with a long, muscular neck that can strike with surprising speed, they lie in wait for unsuspecting prey, their rough, mossy shells blending seamlessly with the underwater environment.

Snapping Turtle
Snapping Turtle

For ducks, snapping turtles pose a serious threat. With their fluffy down and slow swimming skills, ducklings are easy targets. But even adult ducks can fall prey to these opportunistic hunters. Snapping turtles lie in wait, camouflaged against the muck, and lunge quickly when a duck comes within range. Their powerful jaws can crush bones and sever limbs, making them a nightmare for any feathered friend. They can even bite parts of the duck’s beak off.

17. Humans

Not all humans are friendly and like ducks. Maybe you have someone in the neighborhood that really hates ducks and wants to harm them. I have heard of examples where ducks were shot or poisoned.

Due to the increasing prices of eggs, I have also heard about some cases where ducks were stolen.

Anything else?

In the comment below, let us know if we missed any duck predators. Or if we have missed essential facts about any of the animals listed above.

If you want to find out what predator may have attacked your ducks, Poultry DVM has a very nice Poultry Predator Identifier. Just select your clues, and it will help you identify the intruder.

Want to learn more about predator-proofing your duck run and coop? Read more in the following blog posts:

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Melanie (Duck Mom)
Melanie (Duck Mom)

Introducing Melanie, the passionate soul behind Ducks of Providence, your ultimate duck haven. With her flock of feathered friends by her side - Emma, Hertha, Schnatterinchen, Penny, Simon, Ronja, and Krümel - she leads readers on a quacking adventure like no other. Dive into the wonders of duck keeping with Melanie as your guide, from practical tips to heartwarming tales. Whether you're a seasoned pro or dipping your toes into the duck pond for the first time, Melanie is here to make your journey as delightful as a sunny day at the pond. Let's quack together and celebrate the joy of duck keeping!

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