RIP Papa Duck

Well, we lost one of our pet ducks recently. We originally called him Caesar, but sometime after his mate, Cleopatra, started laying eggs we began referring to them both as Mama and Papa duck. He was naughty and pesky, but great fun and he took good care of his lady. In fact, I'm certain that's how he died - defending and protecting her.

Papa duck was killed in a late nite fox attack. The fox must have been small as he wasn't able to haul his prey over the fence afterward, as he had apparently planned, but he was able to slip under the pen gate in a space less than 2 inches high (after a bit of digging) in order to attack the ducks. I'm guessing he attacked Mama duck first, and in an attempt to protect her, Papa duck managed to get her free (by ramming into the pen gate and knocking it down) and allowed the fox to turn on him instead. We found her the next morning wandering aimlessly in the yard in a state of shock, and badly wounded.

After investigating the crime scene (Lord help me I've been watching way too much Dexter), the girls and I scooped Mama duck up and brought her inside to keep her safe. We put her in the bathtub with some food and water and left her alone for a few hours so she could calm down. We then went out and buried Papa duck, next to the bunny we lost earlier this year.

I gave Mama duck a bath and put medicine on all her wounds. She had an eye that was foaming over and appeared to have been punctured so I washed it and put medicine on it as well. I really didn't expect her to be alive the next morning when I went in to check on her.

But, amazingly, she was alive...and hungry. And looked greatly improved. I filled the tub and let her take a bath which seemed to lift her spirits. She then ate really good and spent the rest of the day quietly recovering. After 4 days of recovering in the bathtub (some days eating, some not) she started quacking more and seemed to want out. Her wounds were healing, her eye was looking better and she clearly was no longer appreciating the isolation, so we let her go outside for a few hours.

She immediately started cleaning herself, and would eat as long as I held the bowl near her head (I'm fairly convinced she has internal neck injuries), but despite being clearly lost and depressed, she started wondering the yard in search of the chickens. She was raised with 4 of the chickens (they were all one week old when we got them) so thankfully she still has something of a flock to be with. Ducks don't do well singularly and often become depressed after losing a mate, particularly. They, like chickens, are social animals and do best when there's at least one other of their kind around.

We let her stay out all day and she did fine. She walks with a bit of a limp and shows no interest in swimming yet (not sure she's still waterproof). She clearly can't see well (if at all) out of that one eye, but she seems to be managing as best she can. She stays with the chickens and quacks when we talk to her. I think these are good signs. She hasn't laid an egg in 3 days but I don't feel any stuck inside her so I think it's mostly just because of the shock and trauma. We're keeping her in a dog kennel at night now, close to the house, but plan to create a more secure pen for her in the next few weeks. My greatest concern is her depression (Papa duck was good at telling her where to go and what to do), but hopefully she'll learn a new way of existing with the chickens and in a few months, after we move, again (big sigh), we can think about getting her another duck friend.

She clearly has a strong will to live, and while we share in her sorrow over losing Papa, we are very grateful we got a chance to be a part of his life, and very thankful we still have our Mama duck.

1 comment:

  1. We also have ducks and chickens and last year the same thing happened to our female Mallard. It was so sad, but like yours, she immediately joined up with the chickens and spent the fall and winter with them around the clock. She even slept in the chicken coop at night. This spring we got 3 Pekin ducks just like yours and immediately after letting them into the yard (from the garage where we raised them) 2 were killed. Funny enough, the female Mallard and the one male Pekin that we had left fell hopelessly in love and he convinced her to come out of the chicken coop and become a duck again!!!! They have since had 6 little ducklings and still to this day Aflac (our big Pekin duck) rules the pond. The ducklings are grown and everyone hangs on his every quack!!! I sure hope that your little lady recovers quickly and just wanted to offer some encouragement that if she doesn't seem to bounce right back, give her time!! As soon as you get her a friend she will become her old self!!!! Please keep us posted on her progress and Im so sorry for your loss!!!