Monday, September 7, 2009
Just like the fairy tale, "Duckie" may actually be a swan. She's about three weeks old now, slightly bigger than an adult duck and still has her down and a few pen feathers.
She has a fuzzy toy duck and a toy sheep she likes playing with, and she pecks at the duck when it makes duck noises. She may be cleaning the duck. Her favorite pillow is a fuzzy toy dog.
We think Duckie is a tundra swan. Her bill, coloring, size and calls fit the profile. However, we are keeping an open mind until someone who really knows geese and swans can tell us what we have.
We've been calling our gosling Duckie after Dr. Drake on the NCIS TV series. However, we are thinking about changing it to something like Sinbad and maybe keep Duckie as her nickname. (What do you think?)
Duckie took her first swim a few days ago to my surprise. I took her out for a walk and filled up a shallow litter box for her to bathe in. But when I sat her in it she totally freaked out and promptly jumped out of the box.
The next day, we went for a walk and passed the litter box I had emptied the water out of, but she pecked at it like she wanted me to fill it. While I was pouring water into the pan, she jumped into a nearby water tub from which the dogs had been drinking.
She flipped water on herself and swam around while yaking up a storm. Then she dove under the water and swam around and around, kicking with her flipper feet.
Duckie is getting a bit better at catching her own grasshoppers, but she prefers just pecking in the dirt and snacking on tender greens. She also loves the occasional romaine lettuce leaf.
Since we are going through a lot of newspaper and Timothy Hay, we are checking into a diaper harness. Diaper a goose? It does sound a bit daft, but some people say it really works and makes ducks and geese ideal indoor pets. The Goose's Mother carries harnesses and diaper holders at http://www.thegoosesmother.com/id47.html
So, it appears I was a bit hasty when I said that ducks are not good house pets. At least to a degree. You don't want to just grab a wild duckling or gosling away from it's mother. I don't believe you can actually house break them like a dog. They also won't use a litter box like a cat (although we have a goat that did). The diaper harness is a great solution, but it does take a bit more attention than changing a litter box.
A pet of any kind is a commitment. Ducks and geese may live up to 40 years and that is a big commitment. On the plus side, ducks and geese are supposedly allergy free and don't get diseases common in other pets.