Rescue officials: Ducklings make foul Easter gifts

Published on NewsOK Modified: March 19, 2013 at 4:20 am •  Published: March 19, 2013
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LOS ANGELES (AP) — A fluffy duckling might seem appealing next to a basket of Easter eggs, but shelter officials and animal welfare experts want gift-happy parents to picture something else: Poop.

The average domestic duck relieves itself once every 15 minutes, according to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. That's why very few people have ducks for pets — except at Easter.

Yet millions of people have or will celebrate spring and Easter by getting their children a duckling, figuring they can release it in a pond when it gets too big to keep.

"We usually get tons of calls right after Easter," said Susie Coston, national shelter director for the Farm Sanctuary.

Duck diapers are readily available online, but it takes more than that to raise a duck, said Carol Chrysong, the 56-year-old founder of The Lucky Duck Rescue & Sanctuary in Los Angeles. The sanctuary is home to 120 of them, including a drake and two hens that Chrysong keeps as her pets, and the cleanup is exhausting, she said.

"I do a massive amount of work every day before and after work. I am pretty exhausted," Chrysong said.

The upsides to keeping a duck as a pet include their surprisingly doglike behavior, which has them greeting owners upon arrival (Muscovy ducks even wag their tails), learning tricks and being extreme loyal, she said.

The downside, though, is cleaning up after a diaperless duck that also likes to get into water or puddles and splash — then walk around, Chrysong said. An indoor duck would have to sit on a poop mat and sleep in a playpen full of shavings if it stays inside.

Chrysong added that ducks are in heat up to 10 months out of the year, so "if you don't want to have the sex talk with your child, don't get a duck." Experts say that most ducklings sold at Easter are drakes, so parents hoping for fresh eggs are out of luck.

Coston also discouraged ducks as pets, especially since they can live up to 20 years and more. She noted that it's unlikely a child can take the duck to college.

Parents often assume they can set a duck free at a local pond once it outgrows its duckling stage, but "domestic ducks are not equipped to survive in the wild like their wild cousins," she said.

They can't fly, their colors don't match the environment and they don't know how to act in the wild, "so they fall prey to many wild animals, dogs and, sadly, even people," she said. In many cases, territorial ducks at a pond will kill newcomers.

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