Table of Contents
In this blog post, we aim to delve deeper into the relationship between otters and ducks. We will explore the frequency at which otters consume ducks, the reasons behind this behavior, and the situations that might put ducks at risk.
If you are worried because your own ducks are sharing their space with some otters I have some tips on what you can do to keep your poultry safe.
Let’s dive right in and explore the circumstances that might put our quacking friends at risk.
Do Otters Eat Ducks?
Otters are opportunistic predators, which means they consume whatever is available in their surroundings, including ducks. However, ducks are not the primary food source for otters. Instead, they are likely to hunt them when other food sources are scarce or an easy opportunity presents itself.
Otters primarily consume fish, but they have a diverse diet and are not overly selective. In other words, otters are willing to hunt and eat whatever they can catch.
What about ducklings?
Small ducklings are particularly vulnerable to otters. If otters detect helpless young ducks, they are likely to prioritize capturing them over fully-grown ducks, as they offer an easier meal.
Remember, otters are not as friendly as they seem; they are dangerous and formidable predators and they will not hesitate to prey on young ducks.
This wide-ranging diet is due to their need to consume large quantities of food to survive, especially in cold water. In fact, some otters eat up to 25% of their total body weight each day.
Can you imagine consuming a quarter of your body weight daily? That’s comparable to eating 30 or 40 pounds of food each day.
Consequently, sometimes the fish population is insufficient to sustain the otters, leading them to hunt and eat ducks.
However, ducks are not the only bird species targeted by otters. In addition to ducks, otters may occasionally prey upon chickens, geese, and turkeys. Demonstrating their adaptability, some otters even eat turtles.
How Do Otters Hunt Ducks?
Otters are highly skilled predators, and they rely on their agility in the water and keen senses to hunt. Here’s how an otter might hunt a duck:
- Stalking and Ambushing
If a duck or a group of ducks are in the vicinity, an otter might quietly swim or sneak up on them. They are excellent swimmers and can move in water with little to no disturbance, making it easier to get close to potential prey undetected.
- Catching and Killing
To capture the bird, otters usually aim for the legs, head, or neck. If the prey is a duckling, the otter might be able to kill it instantly due to its small size. Adult ducks are more difficult, but these critters are exceptional swimmers and they can often match ducks swimming speed.
Once the duck is dead, the otter will bring it to a safe location, often a nearby bank, to consume it. They eat most parts of the duck, but they are quite messy eaters.
Bear in mind that otters prefer to hunt in water rather than on land. They are significantly more adept at launching their attacks directly from the water, but they are also capable of hunting on land.
An average day for an otter includes about five hours of foraging. This time increases dramatically for nursing mothers, who may hunt for an astonishing eight hours each day. Thus, in addition to their innate skills, these creatures continuously hone their hunting techniques to perfection.
How to Protect Ducks From Otters
Homes and gardens situated near deep streams or rivers may become targets for otters. While otters will not reside on the property, don’t be surprised if you spot one exploring your backyard.
Otters cause property damage by leaving food remnants scattered and using various parts of your property as restroom areas. Worse still, they may prey on your ducks, poultry, or fish in your ponds.
Wondering how to deter otters from your property?
- Consider installing wire netting around your property. Otters are powerful animals, so the fence should be robust and tall enough to keep them at bay.
- Trap the otters and relocate them. However, trapping otters is no easy task. They are intelligent and strong creatures, and the traps need to be placed in locations otters frequently traverse. The traps should be almost undetectable; otherwise, the trapping attempt will likely fail.
Also, remember that otters are primarily nocturnal creatures, most active at night or during twilight hours. During these periods, your ducks are at the greatest risk. To protect your ducks from otters, ensure they are secured indoors before nightfall and not let out until daylight.
In conclusion, otters are versatile and opportunistic predators, capable of making a meal out of ducks, particularly when their primary food source, fish, is scarce. Despite their cute and playful demeanor, otters are efficient hunters adept at killing prey both in water and on land.
The vulnerable ducklings often become an easy target due to their size and helplessness. Their broad diet is a testament to their adaptability and survival instincts, as otters can consume up to a quarter of their body weight in food daily.