Can Ducks Eat Ticks? Discover Surprising Benefits

Written By Jill Taylor

As a duck keeper, one question that often flutters through my mind is: can ducks eat ticks? Absolutely, these web-footed workers are nature’s pest controllers, happily snacking on these tiny critters. Observing my ducks roam and forage, it’s clear their diet is as diverse as the colors of their feathers – ticks included.

It’s a charming sight, the way they potter around the yard, heads bobbing with each step. My ducks aren’t just a part of the family; they’re integral to the small ecosystem we’ve cultivated in our backyard. Through their natural foraging, they contribute to a tick-free environment, all while providing them with valuable nutrients. It’s a win-win in the world of duck-keeping.

can ducks eat ticks

Understanding Ducks’ Diet

Ducks are quite the foragers, aren’t they? Waddling around, they seem to find joy in pecking at whatever the earth offers up. But what’s on the menu for these feathered friends, and how fussy are they with their meals?

Natural Food Sources for Ducks

Let’s start with the basics. Ducks aren’t picky eaters. These birds will happily gobble up a range of grub, from seeds and nuts to small fish and algae. Their diet is quite varied, depending on what’s available around them. It’s a buffet out there, and ducks are all in for it.

The Foraging Behavior of Ducks

When it comes to finding food, ducks have it down to a science. They dabble in shallow waters, tilting forward and nibbling at plants and critters underwater. On land, they’re just as efficient, rooting around with their bills to uncover tasty treats hidden in the soil.

The Impact of Insects on Ducks’ Diet

Insects are like the sprinkles on a cupcake for ducks – not the main event, but a delightful bonus. These little critters provide an excellent source of protein, essential for energy and growth, particularly for ducklings who are constantly building muscle and feathers.


Ticks as a Potential Food Source

Now, ticks might make us squirm, but in the animal kingdom, they’re just another menu option. But are they a good choice for our quacking companions?

What Are Ticks?

Ticks are these tiny arachnids that cling onto plants, waiting to hitch a ride on unsuspecting hosts. While they’re well-known for being a bit of a pest, they’re part of the circle of life, serving as food for various creatures.

The Nutritional Value of Ticks

Surprisingly, ticks pack a punch in terms of nutrients. They’re full of proteins and fats – a potential energy boost for animals that consume them. But the question is, do ducks consider them a snack?

How Ticks Fit Into the Ecosystem

Everything has its place, right? Ticks play their role, sometimes as a snack for birds, other times as pest controllers, keeping certain populations in check. It’s all about balance in nature.

Ducks and Tick Consumption

tick on grass

So, do ducks line up for a tick feast? It’s not like they have a reservation, but if ticks cross their path, they may just indulge.

Can Ducks Eat Ticks?

The short answer is yes. Ducks can and do eat ticks. It’s a casual affair, though. If they stumble upon these little critters while rummaging through the grass or paddling in puddles, they might just snap them up.

The Role of Ducks in Natural Pest Control

Ducks could be our tiny, feathered heroes in the garden. By munching on ticks and other insects, they help keep the pest population down, making them a natural ally for gardeners and farmers.

Benefits of Ticks in a Duck’s Diet

While it might not be their first food choice, ticks can offer some nutritional benefits to ducks. They’re a natural, readily available source of protein, especially during the spring and summer when ticks are most active.

Safety and Health Considerations

mallard duck

Everything that glitters isn’t gold, and the same goes for ducks eating ticks. There are some things to consider to keep our ducks healthy and happy.

Are Ticks Safe for Ducks to Eat?

Generally, ticks don’t pose a massive risk to ducks. However, just like any food item, there’s a risk of disease transmission. It’s rare, but something to keep in mind.

Potential Health Risks of Ticks to Ducks

Ticks can carry diseases that might affect ducks, although it’s uncommon. The bigger risk is to humans since we can catch Lyme disease from tick bites. So, a tick-eating duck could be reducing that risk for us.

How to Safely Introduce Ticks to a Duck’s Diet

If you’re raising ducks and want them to take on a pest control role, you don’t need to do much. Ducks will naturally find and eat ticks. Just ensure they have a varied diet to keep them in top-notch health.

Encouraging Natural Foraging

ducks in water

Ducks are natural foragers, and we can give them a helping hand to ensure they get a diverse diet – ticks included.

Creating a Duck-Friendly Habitat

Designing a space that’s safe and inviting for ducks means plenty of access to water, shelter, and a mix of vegetation. This not only gives them a place to call home but also encourages them to hunt for their food, including ticks.

Supplementing Diet with Ticks

While you don’t need to toss ticks into their feed, ensuring your ducks have a habitat that supports a healthy tick population (within reason) means they’ll have access to these protein-rich snacks.

Monitoring Duck Health and Diet

Like any good duck steward, keep an eye on their overall health. Watch their behavior, check their feathers, and make sure they’re not only eating ticks. A balanced diet is vital for a thriving flock.

Alternative Foods for Ducks


If the thought of ticks makes you a bit uneasy, there are plenty of other foods that ducks will love just as much.

Recommended Foods for Ducks

Ducks will do just fine on a diet of grains, vegetables, and the occasional treat like mealworms or small fish. These foods can provide the nutrients they need without the ick factor of ticks.

Foods to Avoid Feeding Ducks

It’s worth noting that not all human foods are good for ducks. Bread, in particular, is a no-no. It’s like junk food for them – filling but not nutritious.

Balancing Ducks’ Diet for Optimal Health

The bottom line? A varied diet is essential. Whether they’re eating ticks or not, ensuring that your ducks have access to a range of foods will help them live a long, healthy life.

What other animals can ducks eat apart from ticks? 

earthworm in dirt

Ducks are not picky eaters, and their diet extends well beyond the water’s surface or the grass they waddle on. Apart from feasting on ticks, they have a penchant for other critters that might surprise you. Here’s a peck at some other animals that ducks may include in their menu.


Worms are like spaghetti dinners for ducks. Rich in protein and easy to dig up, they are a duck’s delight and perfectly good for them to eat. Whether after a rainstorm or during a routine forage, ducks will eagerly gobble up these wriggly earth-dwellers, benefiting from the nutrients they provide.

Read More: Can Ducks Eat Worms? The Essential Guide For Owners


While it may seem like a scene out of a wild documentary, ducks can and occasionally do eat small snakes. It’s not the norm, given the potential risk snakes pose, but a duck will take the chance if it’s small enough to manage. However, it’s not the safest snack, so while they can eat snakes, it’s not generally recommended as part of their diet.

Read More: Can Ducks Eat Snakes? Discover the Truth


Tadpoles are another aquatic appetizer for ducks. Found in ponds and streams, these little larvae are a natural part of many ducks’ diets. They’re safe to eat and are often consumed by ducks during their daily water forays, providing a good source of protein.

Read More: Can Ducks Eat Tadpoles? Explore Safe Feeding Tips


Now, this is where ducks might draw the line. While baby turtles may occasionally be on the menu for larger waterfowl, most ducks will pass on turtles. Turtles can be hard to digest and are not a recommended food source for ducks due to their hard shells and potential size.

Read More: Can Ducks Eat Turtles? The Truth Revealed


Snails are a crunchy treat for ducks. High in calcium and protein, snails are a healthy snack that ducks will use their bills to expertly pluck from their shells. They’re a common part of a duck’s diet, especially for those that frequent garden ponds and slow-moving streams.

Read More: Can Ducks Eat Snails And Slugs? 3 Surprising Benefits

Can ducks eat ticks – final thoughts

Well, there you have it: our feathered friends are more than just charming garden companions; they’re tiny warriors in the battle against ticks. Ducks, with their varied palates, partake in the occasional tick feast, contributing to the natural pest control in our backyards. It’s a delightful bonus that these birds, with their foraging prowess, can help reduce the tick population and, by extension, the risk of tick-borne diseases.

So next time you see your ducks dabbling away in the yard, remember that each peck and poke is part of their diverse diet, ticks included. They’re not just beautifying your space with their presence but are also on the front lines, keeping those pesky ticks at bay.

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