Duck Predators and How to Protect Your Flock
There are many duck predators in urban and suburban environments. Understanding the basics of securing a duck coop and run will go a long way in reducing the impact of predators. A couple of rolls of 1/4″ hardware cloth can make a secure zone for your birds. Protect your backyard birds from raccoons, skunks, weasels, and even a loose dog.
How to Secure Ducks from Predators
Secure your backyard flock of ducks from predators with these guiding principles.
- Build a secure duck coop with wood and metal hardware cloth.
- Use hardware cloth instead of chicken wire to create fencing for larger enclosure space.
- Include a secure roof for protection from flying predators and ones that will climb at night.
- Don’t leave food and water out overnight.
Get Hardware Cloth to Keep Your Ducks and Chickens Safe
Hardware cloth is sold by the role. I recommend 1/4″ hardware cloth as this will keep out rats and mice. The quarter-inch hardware cloth is small enough to keep raccoon hands out. They are known for being able to break through chicken wire or stick their arms through larger-size hardware cloth and grab birds and kill or maim them.
This is an essential part of any duck predator prevention strategy. The material comes in all sizes. Measure the area that you are going to secure and order the appropriate size roll for your needs.
A Predator Free Duck Enclosure for Daytime
The enclosed run that you allow your birds to hang out in during the day should be fully secure. When managing a flock in a suburban or rural environment it is easier to have an open area that your birds can utilize with limited risks. However, in the city, it is best for your animal’s long term safety that they are in an enclosed poultry run. The worst daytime predator we have experienced is a loose dog from the neighborhood. Dogs can jump a short 4-foot fence easily.
A roof on your enclosure will keep birds of prey away as a threat to your birds. This is a risk people often take when allowing birds to free-range in open areas. Hawks and other birds that view ducks and chickens as prey need substantial open space to attack your birds, but if it occurs once it will happen again and you will want to plan accordingly.
Duck Predators at Night
Nighttime is when the animals looking for a duck dinner will most likely come. Where we live the biggest threat to our flock is packs of raccoons or a skunk. We have only ever seen these in our yard at night. Opossums are another potential attacker of ducks, but they are more opportunistic if you happen to leave something open versus attempting to get inside your enclosure or secure duck coop.
Securing Ducks for Nighttime
The best answer to securing ducks at night is to have both a secure enclosure that keeps predators out of the general area and a secure duck house. This provides two layers of security for your animals. Our run includes a combination of wooden fence and cyclone fence covered in hardwire cloth. The duck house is made of all wood and while we can open all sides easily for clean-ups, when put to bed at night there is only a small door that is locked.
Best Predator Prevention
The best predator prevention strategy includes using strong materials to keep predators out. When raising ducklings. Wait until your ducks are juveniles before allowing them to stay outside in the run will help. While a rat won’t pose a threat to your mature ducks they can take a duckling if given the opportunity. Secure your duck perimeter with hardware cloth to keep these pests away.
Urban Duck Predators
Depending on the region you live in different predators may pose a threat to the health of your flock. These are the most common animals found in urban areas.
Raccoons have hands that can slip into small spaces and grab ahold of a duck in a run or house. Using hardware cloth to cover all openings of a duck run will eliminate this risk from raccoons. They are an opportunistic omnivore that will eat whatever presents itself. Therefore, ducklings and mature ducks alike are on the menu if they are able to break into their living quarters. Pick up the eggs from your duck run if they happen to lay an egg out free-ranging. It is normal to let your birds run around for extended periods of time while you are around the house so if they have a daytime lay spot check it out for eggs. Raccoons love to eat fresh duck eggs and you do not want them to know that they are available on your property.
Coyotes are cunning creatures. Capable of jumping over short fences and squeezing into tight spaces a Coyote is the animal most likely to grab an animal and disappear with the whole thing. These adaptive canine predators are eating all kinds of creatures in urban environments including cats and small dogs. The chickens and ducks in your backyard flock will certainly keep them happy.
Skunks have the capability to burrow under short fences and dig into and under a duck house. They are tenacious and willing to investigate while searching of a meal. These omnivores will eat duck eggs, ducklings, juveniles, and even a mature duck, however, they tend to be more of a threat to smaller birds and flocks with limited protection.
Weasels are more often seen in rural and suburban settings versus urban settings, but if they are nearby, watch out. Weasles flat-out kill ducks. They are very cunning and can slip into duck houses through very tight openings and eat eggs and attack mature ducks.
Birds of Prey
Eagles, hawks, and owls all may pose a threat to your birds. They are equipped with sharp talons designed for grabbing and killing. Flying down at incredible speeds birds are able to prey on backyard ducks and chickens. These birds will often circle from far above or hide in a perch from a tall tree. Using their superb vision they are able to lock in on a duck and fly in and get out very quickly.
While rats are not a primary predator of ducks they can pose a problem to ducklings and eggs. Using their sharp teeth they can excavate holes around a duck house and gain access to where the layers are dropping eggs. When a larger community of rats is able to make entry into a duck and chicken run they can group up on the birds and kill them. Manage your rat population in the area directly around your duck house and chicken coop area and in general around your entire property. When raising backyard chickens and ducks it is wise to proactively manage the potential rat problem. Reduce locations for them to live. Remove the water and food every night. Limit the amount of excess food after animals feed.
A dog will hop a 4 foot fence or higher to attack a bird just cause it caught their attention. While many people train their dogs some dogs when they get loose will do whatever they want. We have had encounters with neighborhood dogs finding their way into our backyard when the birds were out and when they were in their enclosures. Attacks from dogs can be severe quickly and cause significant injuries. One of our ducks got two large puncture wounds and a shattered wing from a random dog finding its way into our yard. She recovered with daily medicated rinses and bandages, but never was the same.
Other Duck Predators
There are many other animals that prey on ducks. When given a chance who wouldn’t want to enjoy a duck dinner. Red foxes are smart and cunning and will happily snatch a duckling or a duck egg. Foxes are known for coming back repeatedly building up a cache of duck eggs to enjoy later. Badgers and mink both have the ability to work through less secure duck runs. While not known as birds of prey, corvids like crows and gulls such as seagulls will happily take a duckling or poke open a duck egg and enjoy the contents.