Ducks are omnivorous birds that love to eat various foods, including slugs and snails. As waterfowl, most ducks will readily consume these slimy mollusks as a protein-rich treat and an excellent source of nutrients. Snails contain nutrients like calcium, protein, and vitamins that benefit ducks. Since snails live in moist areas near water, ducks can easily find and eat snails and slugs in their natural habitats.
Ducks are excellent slug and snail control as they love eating these common garden pests. Their ability to reduce a slug infestation or snail population makes ducks a great pest control option for any gardener hoping to protect their vegetable garden. Though snails need to be introduced carefully due to risks like parasites, they are one of the most common and preferred insects ducks love eating. Providing slugs, snails, worms, and other natural foods ducks usually eat allows them to forage and provides an alternative to commercial duck pellets.
In our guide, you can learn more about how to raise ducks for eggs and meat or keep them as pets, such as Indian Runner Ducks and Muscovy Ducks and feed slugs and snails as treats. By the end, you’ll better understand how you can use ducks as natural pest control around your veggie patch and keep slugs and snails away from your precious vegetables. (Read Can Ducks Eat Mushrooms)
Do Ducks Eat Snails in the Wild?
In the wild, ducks are opportunistic omnivores and can eat snails as part of their daily diet. Ducks forage for food while dabbling in shallow water and grazing on land, so they love snails, where snails are a great source of protein and calcium.
When living on farms and homesteads, ducks will explore the environment and eat various insects, worms, slugs, and snails they find. Farmers or homeowners let ducks graze in gardens and orchards to help control pests like slugs and snails.
Muscovy ducks use their strong bills to crush the shells and consume the snail in one go. So in both wild and domesticated environments, where ducks love the health benefits of snails.
What Types of Snails Do Ducks Eat?
When you ask what insects can ducks eat, included in this, you’ll see ducks eat slugs and snails. Ducks eat land and water snails, and common types of snails ducks eat include:
- Garden snails: The most popular land snails have rounded spiral shells and thrive in moist environments. Ducks eat various species, like the brown garden snail.
- Slugs: Slugs are similar to snails but lack an external shell. Ducks readily consume slugs which damage garden plants.
- Pond snails: These live in freshwater ponds and streams. Ducks dabble and filter feed to eat small pond snails.
- Ramshorn snails: Named for their unique spiraled shell, ducks eat these small water snails.
- Nerite snails: Small aquatic snails found in lakes, rivers, and streams.
Ducks will eat other smaller snail species, including land snails like decollate snails. Overall, the meat, foot muscle, and calcium from the shell are nutritious.
Risks For Ducks Eating Snails?
While snails are fine for ducks in moderation, there are a few risks for ducks eating snails.
- Choking hazard: While ducks can eat snails, ducks can find large snails shells challenging and potentially choke a duck if swallowed whole.
- Contaminants: Snails and slugs may have eaten toxic pesticides or other chemicals. Avoid collecting from questionable areas.
- Parasites: Snails and slugs can carry parasites like flukes which may infect ducks.
- Crop impaction: Overeating snails rapidly may clog a duck’s crop. Feed snails in limited portions to avoid this.
- Egg eating: Snail eating may encourage ducks to crack and eat their shells to access calcium.
- Nutritional imbalance: Snails should not completely replace balanced duck feed and grazing. Variety is key.
Using common sense snail feeding guidelines minimizes any risks for ducks. Also, quarantine new ducks before introducing them to your flock.
Which Duck Breeds are Best at Hunting and Eating Snails?
Certain species of ducks are effective at hunting, killing, and eating snails. The best ducks for hunting slugs or snails include:
- Indian Runner Ducks: This active foraging breed is the most popular for snail and slug patrol. They search all day for pests. Their upright posture gives them good sight lines.
- Muscovy Ducks: Muscovys use their strong bills to crush snail shells open to access the nutritious meat. These large ducks can devour pest snails.
- Mallard Ducks: The wild mallard ancestor is an opportunistic feeder that eats snails. Domesticated mallards retain this trait.
- Aylesbury Ducks: This calm duck breed will forage in a garden for snails and other insects. Their big size allows them to eat many snails.
- Call Ducks: Small and active call ducks will find snails in dense garden vegetation. They eat a surprising amount for their size.
For best results, choose active foraging duck breeds and provide grazing space where snails live. The ducks will help control the pests.
How Many Snails To Feed Your Ducks?
Snails should be an occasional treat, not a daily staple. Here are some feeding guidelines:
- 1-2 times per week: Feed snails once or twice per week as a supplement.
- 1-2 snails per duck: For average-sized snails, offer 1 or 2 per duck at a feeding. Adjust amounts based on snail size.
- 10% of diet: Snails should comprise only around 10% of total feed.
- Free access: Give ducks free access to snail-infested areas to forage naturally.
- Hand feeding: You can hand feed a few snails per duck daily for better pest control and nutrition.
Always feed snails in moderation along with poultry feed, grains, vegetables, fruits, and grazing. This provides balanced nutrition. Monitor your duck’s crop fullness.
How Ducks Help Control Snail and Slug Pests?
Letting ducks graze in the garden, or areas prone to snail infestations and using ducks as pest control the benefits include:
- Ducks hunt, kill, and also eat snails, reducing the overall snail or slug population.
- Snails are attracted to seedlings, berries, and vegetables that ducks also forage on.
- Ducks crush snail shells and eggs, preventing reproduction.
- Duck droppings can deter snails.
- Ducks may eat 30 or more snails daily and make effective slug control.
- It’s chemical-free and avoids using snail pellets for snail control.
Use ducks as part of an integrated pest management plan. Also, remove debris snails hide under, hand pick more giant snails, trap snails, and use barriers like copper. In addition to killing slugs and eat the snails, they also contain lots of nutrition ducks would benefit from. (Read Can Chickens Eat Chia Seeds)
Tips for Feeding Your Ducks Snails
Here are some tips for making eating a snail safe for your ducks:
- Crush larger shells to avoid choking hazards
- Inspect snails and discard any with holes, cracks, or parasites
- Quarantine new ducks before introducing them into your existing flock
- Collect snails from pesticide and chemical-free areas
- Wash snails off to remove dirt and debris
- Control portion sizes to avoid overeating
- Maintain a balanced diet for ducks available to meet nutrition ducks’ need
- Remove uneaten snails within a few hours
Only offer ducks healthy snails free of parasites or toxins. Use common sense for safe snail feeding. In addition, it’s essential for ducks to have access to fresh water for drinking and ducks need to and like to keep clean through bathing and pruning.
Conclusion: Can You Get Ducks To Eat Slugs and Snails?
Domesticated and wild ducks regularly eat snails as a protein, calcium, and nutrient source. Snails are a natural supplemental food for ducks. Feeding ducks moderate amounts of snails can benefit their health and growth while helping control snail and slug garden pests. Certain duck breeds like Indian Runners and Muscovies thrive as slug hunters and are great for pest control.
While overeating snails has some risks, following portion guidelines minimizes any concerns. Overall, snails are a healthy part of a balanced diet for ducks that provides nutrition and enriches their environment. Allowing ducks to eat snails improves the ducks and reduces damage from the snails while helping to keep ducks healthy.
FAQs: Can Any Ducks Eat Snails?
Are slugs safe for ducks to eat?
Ducks can eat slugs safely, a type of snail without a shell. Slugs provide similar benefits of protein and nutrients. Ducks eat snails and slugs while foraging. So, you can find them as effective pest control for things that could harm garden plants.
Do duck eggs taste fishy if ducks eat snails?
Eating snails does not make a duck’s eggs taste fishy or otherwise change the flavor. Ducks consuming their natural diet, including snails and other invertebrates, still produce tasty normal eggs. (Read Can Chickens Eat Rice Krispies)
Can too many snails make ducks sick?
Overeating worms and snails can cause crop impaction, where the crop is overloaded and clogged. Stick to recommended portions 1-2 times weekly and avoid free feeding unlimited snails.
Can ducks get parasites from snails?
There is a small risk of ducks getting parasitic flukes from eating infected snails. The chance is low in most areas, and ducks’ immune systems can usually fend them off. Know local parasite risks and avoid snails from contaminated water. (Read How Big Are Peacock Eggs)