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Attack From Predator

Ducks have an extensive list of predators--both wild and domestic animals. Although ducks of all life stages are at risk of predator attacks, young ducklings or injured and/or disabled ducks are most vulnerable. Depending on the predator that attacked the flock, the number of birds present, time of day, and other variable factors, sometimes there are ducks that survive an attack. Most are in some degree of shock following the event. These birds may or may not have been injured by the attacking animal, however the likelihood varies depending on the species of animal(s) that attacked and the number of birds in the flock.

Predators attack ducks using their teeth, claws, and body weight. Birds that survive an attack may have physically endured anything from superficial skin damage to extensive mutilation. Surviving ducks are often traumatized and may show signs of shock and emotional distress for several days to months following an attack.

An animals' bite wounds are capable of causing bone fractures, spinal injuries, ligament ruptures, and damage to vital organs and body tissues. Life threatening injuries should be treated for immediately. Any wounds should be covered with a sterile dressing to try to prevent further contamination by foreign substances.

Teeth forces exerted by an attacking animal may only appear on the surface as puncture wounds in the skin. However, teeth are able to puncture through deeper layers of tissue without appearing as such, since a duck's body is covered with feathers, it can easily conceal mild surface damages from teeth punctures. When teeth puncture into the deeper tissue it creates a dead space that bacteria, often left behind from their mouths, to enter. An animals oral cavity contains lots of different types of bacteria and fungi. Treatment for predator attacks depends on the type of attack, severity of the injury, and the overall health condition of the duck that was attacked. The main goals of care include early medical management, irrigation and cleansing of wounds, and bandaging and/or primary closure.

Broad-spectrum antibiotics are often needed, covering both aerobic and anaerobic bacteria, due to the abundance of pathogenic bacteria present in the mouths and claws of the animal that attacked. Domestic cats and dogs are known to harbor high amounts of bacteria, including Pasteurella spp, the organism responsible for causing fowl cholera, a highly contagious, septicemic disease of ducks. The likelihood of a cat bite becoming infected is double of that of a dog bite.

Antibiotics, however do not replace the need for proper cleansing and debridement of any wounds. Ducks that survive an animal attack may initially appear unharmed, but several days later may get very sick.


Extensive lacerations
Missing bird or egg
Scattered feathers
Bite marks


  • History
  • Clinical signs
  • Physical exam
  • Necropsy


MethodMethod Summary
Wound careStop bleeding and thoroughly clean wounds by flushing with copious volumes of warm sterile saline solution or 0.05% chlorhexidine.
AntibioticsIf ducks were bitten, especially from a cat, dog or other carnivore, they should be put on antibiotics immediately. Penicillin should be used if possible, due to it's effectiveness against Pasteurella multocida, which is a frequent bacteria found in the oral cavity of cats, dogs, and other carnivores.
Predator proofingDesign an enclosure that keeps ducks safe from predators from the sky and ground.



Age Range

Younger ducklings are even more at risk of an attack due to their size.

Risk Factors

  • Not designing duck enclosures against wild animals from entering
  • Letting ducks free range without any protection
  • Living near forests and/or body of water
  • Not keeping grass mowed
  • Performing management techniques which attract predators to the area
  • High rodent populations

Case Stories