Do Pet Ducks Need a Pond? (Pros and Cons)

To answer the question right at the beginning- no, ducks do not need a pond. But they need a constant water source to live happy and healthy. Ducks are also known as “Waterfowl,” and the name rightly explains their link with water. They like to dunk their heads in the water and look for weeds and small fish.

There have been misconceptions around raising ducks and providing them with large ponds or lakes to survive. However, that is not true, as we have witnessed ducks being raised in the suburban homesteads.

Having a pond or lake or stream in the yard is not always possible, and not everyone can afford such luxury. Ducks are not very demanding birds, and they can do with a small kiddie pool too.

However, we must tell you that the above is true in a few duck breeds, not all. On the other hand, the wild ducks love their ponds and water bodies and hardly stay on land. We have known the basic four types of ducks – dabbing, sea, diving, and domestic. We are about to discuss the domestic ducks and how much water do they need.

Domestic ducks, which include few breeds like- Pekin, Khaki Campbell, Indian Runner, Call, etc. stay in water 10% of their time during the day. Wild ducks are often referred to as “Ornamental Wildflower,” and they spend most of their day in the water. They cannot be domesticated as they can fly, need a preferred habitat, and a lake or large pond.

But to ask the most crucial question, why do ducks need a pond to be healthy and happy? Let’s discuss that in detail.

Different Uses of Water in A Duck’s Life

When it comes to water, most domesticated ducks have a lot of essential functions. They do not need huge gallons of water, but definitely for their necessity.


Ducks, unlike chickens, need to clean themselves in water. They want just enough clean water to dunk their bills, heads, and body. Keeping water clean around ducks can be a tough job. You frequently have to change the water as ducks love to play and eat bugs from the mud.

They dunk their bills deep into the soil. And then dip their heads in water to clean the bills and sinuses. They also use water to clean that off their feather and keep their mucous membranes moist. Ducks like to keep them nice and clean and free from any pests.

If you have noticed, Duck’s feathers are waterproof that helps them float in water, keeps them warm and dry during winters, and rains. Besides cleaning themselves, ducks need water to activate a special oil gland at their tail. This gland secretes oil that waterproofs the duck feathers while they preen. So, water is extremely crucial for their existence.

Duck’s feathers contribute to a considerable portion of their bodies. So, it needs to keep it clean and healthy. Although they spend 10% of their time in the water, they spend a lot of time post-cleaning, preening, and moisturizing their feathers. We cannot tell you enough how vital ducks feathers are for their survival. As they renew their feathers only once every year, they need a clean water source to keep it healthy.

Eating and Drinking

Ducks have difficulty swallowing their food dry. They tend to choke on their food if not given water along. They often take their food to the nearest water source, dunk it, and then eat.

Each duck drinks about 1 liter of water every day. Ducks need a fresh batch of food and water twice per day. Ducks are often sleeping most of the night. So, they can go up to 8 hours without water, provided you have kept them well watered and fed in the day.

But for ducklings, until they are 6-8 weeks, they need fresh food and continuously. They are small and petite, making sure their water source is not deep; they may drown in it.

Just additional information, ducks are usually very hardy, and they can manage without you giving them food and water for a few days if need be.


Mating is an essential activity for birds to lay eggs. Ducks can mate on both land and water. But they prefer mating in water. Drakes are very aggressive maters, and at times you might see the drakes drowning the hens while mating in water. They prefer deeper water, where it is usually fresh and clean to mate.

It is said that if they mate in the water while swimming, they lay more fertilized eggs. And it is essential to have more fertilized eggs to hatch. If you plan on building a poultry farm and breed in the future, you will need a pond.

Being Happy

Ducks are excellent natural swimmers. Their padded webbed feet, light waterproof feathers support them to float in water. Being in and around water makes them comfortable and happy. And you do want your pets to be calm and at peace.

Your pets will be healthy when they are joyful, and their basic needs are met. And for ducks, you will have to make out that they are unhappy from their loud quacks. Add a water body if you don’t have already.

Also Read: 10 Duck Friendly Plants for A Homesteader’s Garden

What is the Ideal Size of a Duck Pond?

In an ideal scenario, ponds or lakes are the best water bodies for the ducks. But not everyone can afford to do that. In that case, you can manually dig up an area and fill it with water. You can get plastic tubs, stock tanks, children’s plastic sandpits, or even kid’s plastic pool and even buckets that are readily available for artificial alternatives.

If you ask us, we would prefer the small kiddie pool as it is easy to move around, dump the muddy water, and refill on an everyday basis. When you give them a bigger water source, they will dirty it equally fast with mud, poop, and even feathers.

Safety First

What they need is the minimum depth where they can clean themselves by dunking their head and body. You need to make sure that your pool or ponds do not have steep sides and have some slopes to enter and exit. Or else they can be trapped inside and may drown. If long in the water, the feathers can be soggy, causing chilling and drowning.

Ducklings up to 4-6 weeks should not be allowed inside the deep waters at all as they do not have waterproof feathers and get tired very quickly. They have more chances of drowning.

We would also like to mention that most ducks run to the water body to escape from predators like dogs, foxes, raccoons, etc. However, not many can stay in water for long. In that case, you will either have to put up an electric fence around their area or keep your ducks inside the coop post-sunset. You can also train your ducks to swim to the island in the water.

If you wish to add a large water body, make sure that the water is not clogged and continuously flowing. That will not only keep the water clean but also stop mosquitoes from breeding.

How to Take Care of a Duck Pond During Winter

During winters, the water in small pools and tubs tend to freeze. You can take care of this problem by adding heated buckets for drinking water and just enough to dip themselves. You can also try to break the ice and refill the water, but that is too tedious.

In winters, the surrounding pool and ponds tend to become muddy. Along with ice and rain, the area can become very slippery. What you can do is, add word back or stones and gravels to create friction and also water to drain.

Ducks like to be messy, as they enjoy finding words and insects dunking their face inside the mud. Hence, be at peace with the fact that your yard will look messy during winters.

How to Provide Fresh Drinking Water for Your Pet Ducks

Giving the ducks clean and fresh water to drink always can be quite tricky. You can provide them with water, and in no time, the water will turn muddy and full of poop. But can you let your ducks drink that water? The answer is no. But to control that.

You can separate their swimming/playing pool from their drinking water containers. If you have a pond, you need not worry. Also, you can hang a waterer for the poultry to drink from. Firstly, they will not be able to jump into it to make it dirty. Secondly, you do not have to keep changing the water, and the ducks can have fresh water to drink frequently.

The automatic waterer must be covered and hung on a wall. The drinking area must be extended (at least 15cm for each bird) to allow multiple birds to drink water simultaneously. You can find it in a Pet shop these days.

Also Read: Why Is My Duck Losing Feathers? Causes & Solutions

Categories of Birds and Their Water Needs

There are a few common pet ducks which we would like to list here and discuss how much water they need daily.

1. Indian Runner Ducks

Indian Runner Ducks
Bjoern Clauss, CC BY-SA 2.5, via Wikimedia Commons

These ducks can be easily identified in the flock by its upright posture, available in different colors. They are usually medium to large and have long necks. They are extremely friendly ducks with a very high egg-laying capability.

The Runner ducks need a significant sized bucket to just dunk their head into. They do not have long necks and an oval body and can preen themselves very well. Hence, they do not need a pond.

2. Aylesbury Ducks

aylesbury duck
Sandra / CC BY

These ducks are amongst the excellent and desired pets. They have a beautiful white colored plumage. Although they do not lay many eggs per year, their meat is incredibly delectable.

These ducks need large water buckets to dip their heads in and a small pond to wash and clean its feathers and swim.

Also Read: 9 Duck Predators that You Should Always Look Out For

3. Khaki Campbell Ducks

Khaki Campbell
Keith / CC BY

This British breed is quite hardy and has khaki-colored feathers, hence the name. It is advisable to clip their wings at a young age, as they can fly pretty well. They lay a considerable number of eggs every year, and the meat is exceptional.

They also need similar water arrangements as the Aylesbury Ducks, large buckets of water to dunk their head, and a small pond to swim.

Also Read: The Complete Duck Feeding Guide: How to Feed Your Duck the Perfect Diet

4. Call Ducks

Call ducks
Bartol666 / CC BY-SA

They are the noisiest ducks of all, with huge Call sounds. They are also the smallest duck breed in the world.

Their egg production is also not significant in terms of quantity and quality.

These ducks prefer to swim in a small pond or even a paddling pool.

Final Thoughts

Now that we have entirely understood the relationship between the ducks and water, we always need to care that our ducks are safe and healthy. Ducks are not very demanding. They can make themselves comfortable with whatever they have. They can also drink the water they have dirtied.

Thus, this concludes our topic for today and answers the question, do ducks need a pond? So now, you can go ahead and add a flock to your backyard, even if you don’t want to add or have a pond to your yard.