Duck Lifespan: How Long Do Ducks Live?
Before you state clearly how long ducks live, it is wise to make some distinctions. Ducks come in different species, sizes, and behavior. It is not yet clear how many duck species exist today due to genetic differences, morphological characteristics, and different behaviors. Even more, confusion is drawn from the hybridization of various duck species. These are some of the reasons that make it extremely difficult to state the average lifespan of ducks.
Anyway, the average lifespan of your duck depends on many factors, the key among them being the individual species. So, how long should you expect your duck to live? In this article, we will explain ducks’ average lifespan in detail, what affects their longevity, and briefly provide examples of longest-lived duck species.
Overview of Duck Average Lifespan
Numerous duck species live around the world today. Some are domesticated, while others thrive in the wild. In particular, mallards are the most common duck breeds raised in captivity today. As such, mallards can live an average of 5 to 7 years old in the wild and ten years or more in captivity.
Compared to larger breeds of ducks, smaller species tend to live longer. For instance, bantam ducks have a longer lifespan than most species. On average, bantam ducks live between 10 and 12 years.
According to the Guinness Book of World Records, the longest-ever recorded lifespan of ducks is 49 years. This pair of ducks lived to an old age of around 49 years. Most likely, this record will remain unbroken for a very long time.
At the moment, mallards can live up to the age of 20 when raised in an environment that suits them. Canvasback ducks, on the other hand, are known to have a lifespan exceeding 15 years. The marbled duck or marbled teal can live between 20 and 30 years.
Ducks can potentially live longer in captivity (as domestic animals ) than in the wild. Examples of such ducks are Muscovy, Pekin, and Mallard usually kept as pets. Here is the summary of the average lifespan for a selected few duck breeds:
|Duck Breed||Wild Lifespan||Captive Lifespan||Region|
|Mallard Ducks||3-10 years||10-15 years||Widespread across North Africa, North America, and Europe|
|Pekin Ducks||Not applicable||8-12 years||Originally from the United States but bred in captivity in different parts of the world|
|Call Ducks||Not applicable||7-10 years||Widespread in North America and Europe|
|Indian Runner Ducks||2+ years||8-12 years||Found mainly in Europe, America, and East Indies|
|Khaki Campbell Ducks||Not applicable||8-12 years||Widespread in North America, Europe, and across the globe as domestic duck breeding stock|
|Canvasback Ducks||6-10 years||Not applicable||Canada, North America, and some parts of the United Kingdom|
|American Black Ducks||2-4 years||9-10 years||The United States and Eastern Canada|
|Marbled Ducks||Not applicable||20-30 years||Asia, Middle East, North Africa, and Southern Europe|
|Muscovy Ducks||6-10 years||8-12 years||Southern United States, South, and Central America|
Factors That Affect Duck Lifespan
Depending on various factors, some duck species are likely to live longer than others. Shelter, diet, and security are critical factors determining how long your ducks can live. These factors come into play when ducks are raised in captivity rather than in the wild.
However, without the freedom to fly around, domesticated ducks are usually vulnerable to frequent attacks. But when you take drastic measures to keep your ducks in a safe environment, you can expect them to live longer and happier. Below are additional factors that can determine the lifespan of your ducks:
- Species: Different duck species have different lifespans. Some live longer than others. For example, some duck species can live up to 2 years, while others can live for more than 20 years. But their individual species’ lifespan may also be influenced by the environment they are being raised in it.
- Genetics: Some duck species have superior genes that make them live longer than others. On the other hand, purebred ducks tend to have better genes than hybrids since their genes enhance their survival significantly.
- Diet and Feeding: Diet and nutrition are by no means some of the top factors determining ducks’ lifespan. Ducks can grow rapidly and stay healthy for so long when fed on the proper diet. With good health, your ducks will undoubtedly have a longer lifespan.
- Environment: Compared to other poultry, domesticated ducks are more hardy and tolerant to cold or hot temperatures. Regardless, ducks need a conducive environment to live comfortably. They also need a good shelter to keep them safe from predators and harsh weather conditions.
- Predators: More often than not, predators are considered a threat to all backyard poultry, including ducks. In this sense, ducks face constant threats from land, air, and sea predators. If you don’t protect them from these predators, your ducks may not live to their expected age.
- Diseases: Some ducks may die early due to diseases. So, as their owner, you must ensure that they are always healthy and free of diseases. If necessary, reach out to a local vet for regular flock checkups to ensure their general well-being.
- Climate: Ducks are known to live within various climatic conditions. That is why they are widespread across different climatic conditions. You can help ducks live longer by constantly checking out their living conditions. Provide them with a good shelter to keep them safe and comfortable even in extreme climatic conditions. Some species may not do well in either hot or cold wintery conditions.
Longest-Lived Duck Species
As stated earlier, ducks come from different species. As such, each species has its lifespan. According to the United States Geographical Survey, the following ducks are considered the longest-lived species as indicated below:
- Black Duck: A lifespan of 26 years and five months
- Mallard Ducks: A lifespan of 27 years and seven months
- Redhead Ducks: A lifespan of 22 years and seven months
- Blue-Winged Teal: A lifespan of 23 years and three months
- Wood Ducks: An average lifespan of about 22 years and six months
- Northern Pintail Ducks: An average lifespan of 22 years and three months
- American Wigeon Ducks: An average lifespan of 20 years and 11 months
- Green-winged teal: An average lifespan of 20 years and three months
- Ringed-neck Ducks: An average lifespan of 20 years and five months
Ducks can live longer when subjected to safe places, enough food, and protection against external factors such as predators and bad weather. When ducks find a safe environment, they utilize it to their advantage for extended durations, leading to a longer lifespan.
Ducks’ lifespan varies from one species to another. Also, their lifespan is highly influenced by the environment in which they are raised. Those in captivity tend to live longer than those in the wild.
Regarding the species, the Marbled ducks live between 20 and 30 years in the wild, while the Indian Runners can live only 1 to 2 years in a similar wild environment. In captivity, the Indian Runners can live up to 12 years. With that said, ducks can live an average of 5 to 10 years or even longer when subjected to the right conditions in captivity.