When Can Ducklings Swim? (+Helpful Tips)

when can ducklings swim

Ducklings can swim when they are only a week old. However, baby ducks don’t have oil in their feathers to buoy them like the old ducks.

You can introduce your ducklings to swimming as early as one week, but you’ll need to be more careful to keep them safe as they learn.

Baby ducks cannot stay in the water for a long time as they can easily drown or get chilled, especially when swimming in very cold water.

If you want to introduce your baby ducks to swimming and are wondering if it’s the right time, read on to learn more.

At What Age Can Baby Ducks Start to Swim?

Baby ducks can start swimming at the age of 7 days. But at this age, they haven’t developed enough oil on their feathers to help them float on water with ease.

So, if you want to bring your baby ducks to swimming water at one week of age, you need to supervise them as they swim.

Nonetheless, ducklings can swim right away or just a few days after they are hatched by their broody mother. They can swim safely as their mother spreads her waterproofing oil on them.

But this is risky for incubated ducklings as even a shallow dish of water can kill them if they get wet and have no oils at this age.

Swimming at one week of age should also be for short sessions of not more than 15 minutes to prevent the ducklings from drowning.

Your one-week-old ducklings may not be strong enough to swim for a long time. They can get tired easily or become chilled when swimming in cold water.

It’s important to dry the baby ducks well with a towel or rewarm them in their heat lamp before returning them to the brooder.

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At the age of 3 to 4 weeks, ducklings should be able to swim moderately on their own without any issues.

While their oil gland may not have fully developed at three weeks, they are stronger enough to keep paddling for a while.

From 6 to 8 weeks of age, your ducklings will be able to swim freely and play in the water without supervision as they already have developed adult feathers.

Can Ducklings Swim in Swimming Pools and Ponds?

Ducklings can swim in swimming pools and ponds. However, they need to be 4 to 6 weeks of age to enter a pool or big pond.

Below four weeks of age, ducklings can easily drown in a pool since they have no oil or floaty feathers. But they can swim safely if they have their mother in the water to protect them.

You might also be wondering if your chlorinated water in the pool will kill your ducks. The truth is, there is no harm when your ducks swim in chlorinated water.

However, the pool should be well-maintained to be safe for the ducks and ducklings to swim, as highly chlorinated ones can be risky.

Besides, ducks love to swim and eat, and there’s nothing to eat in a chlorinated pool. So, it’s not always a good idea to throw your ducks and ducklings into a pool.

But if you can make a good duck pond, your webbed feet friends will love you for it. After all, they love a place where they can play in the water while still drinking it.

With a pond, your ducks and ducklings will also be able to swim without supervision and keep their feathers, nostrils, and eyes clean.

Can Baby Ducks Drown in Water?

Yes, baby ducks can drown in water. They easily sink when their feet get tired, and they can’t swim anymore.

Ducklings do not have a functional oil gland that facilitates floating, but it develops as they grow. That’s why they are unable to swim safely during the first few weeks.

However, it’s essential to let your ducklings start swimming early as it encourages the healthy development of the oil gland.

Here is how to help your ducklings learn to swim and save them from drowning in water:

  • Make a Small Ramp: Ducklings love playing in the water, and they can learn to swim faster when you make them a small ramp. With a little ramp or a small sink, ducklings can go in and out of the water without struggling.
  • Train Them in Short Sessions: Ducklings get tired easily when swimming, and they can stop paddling. So, 10 to 15 minutes should be enough for your ducklings to learn to swim without drowning.
  • Let Them Swim with the Mother Duck: Just like the way a mother protects her children, ducks look after their baby ducks with everything they have. When you put them together in water, the mother duck will spread her oil to make her ducklings buoyant and prevent drowning.
  • Don’t Let Them Swim with Drakes: While drakes are essential for the production of duck offspring, they are not always friendly to ducklings. A drake will drown ducklings to kill them if they feel threatened. They often perceive baby ducks as the obstacles between them and their potential mate.

Once your ducklings are out of the water, you should keep them warm under a heat lamp or dry them with a towel before taking them to the brooder.

Final Thoughts

Ducklings can swim as early as one week old for only short sessions. At this age, they lack oil in their feathers to keep them floaty, which means they can easily drown.

If you decide to let your baby ducks learn to swim at the age of one week, you should monitor them as they do it. It’s also essential to keep them warm after swimming to prevent shivering.

You can use the tips provided above to help your ducks learn to swim safely at an early age and stay safe.