If you’ve ever spent time around ducks, you may have wondered – how long do ducks live? With their small bodies and fragile-looking frames, it’s natural to assume ducks only live a few years. However, the lifespan of a duck can vary quite a bit depending on the species.

If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer to your question: Ducks can live between 2 and 20 years, with an average lifespan of 5-10 years. Mallard ducks, the most common type, live about 5-10 years in the wild and 8-12 years in captivity.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know about duck ages and longevity. You’ll learn how long different duck species live, what impacts their lifespan, and how to help your pet duck live a long, healthy life.

Average Lifespan of a Duck

Wild Ducks

The average lifespan of wild ducks varies greatly depending on the species. According to the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB), mallard ducks typically live between 2-12 years with the average being 5 years.

Comparatively, small duck species like teal tend to only live 2-3 years on average.

There are a variety of factors that influence wild duck lifespan including:

  • Predation – Ducks fall victim to predators like foxes, raccoons, snakes, large birds, etc.
  • Starvation – Especially harsh winters can mean difficulty finding food.
  • Disease – Avian viruses and infections are common.
  • Hunting – Ducks are game birds, legally hunted during certain seasons.

Those ducks that do survive to adulthood and avoid predators and disease have been documented living quite long lives in rare cases – up to 20 years for species like the mallard.

Domestic Ducks

Domesticated pet and livestock ducks kept by humans generally live significantly longer than wild ducks. With proper care, shelter, veterinary attention, and protection from predators, some domestic ducks reach 10-15 years old.

Pekin Ducks 9-12 years
Muscovy Ducks 10-15 years
Mallard Hybrids 6-8 years
Call Ducks 5-8 years

The oldest known domestic duck reached an astonishing 20 years of age according to the Guinness Book of World Records. With care comparable to what we provide our pet dogs and cats, we can assure ducks live a long, happy life.

Factors That Impact Duck Longevity


There are over 120 species of ducks that vary significantly in their average lifespan. Larger duck species like the Mallard can live 10-20 years, while smaller species like the Green-winged Teal only live 2-5 years on average.

The exception is the diminutive Bufflehead duck which can live up to 15 years despite its small size.

Environment and Habitat

Wild ducks that live in areas with abundant food sources, nesting sites, and few predators will generally live longer than ducks facing scarcity and dangers. Access to fresh water for bathing and preening feathers is also important.

Captive ducks in zoos, farms, and urban parks often exceed the average lifespan of wild ducks due to reduced hazards and ample care.

Predation and Disease

The leading causes of death for wild ducks are predation, hunting, and disease. Ducks fall prey to foxes, coyotes, eagles, bears, and large predatory fish. Duck hunting further reduces lifespan. Avian diseases like avian cholera can rapidly kill ducks gathered closely together.

With fewer threats, domestic and urban ducks again surpass wild ones in longevity.

Human Care for Domestic Ducks

Domestic duck breeds like the Pekin and Muscovy are the longest living of all ducks, with lifespans stretching 25 years or more. This is attributed to devoted care by owners providing shelter, vet care, high-quality feed, clean water, and protection from dangers.

However, lack of proper knowledge sometimes shortens the lives of domestic ducks. With attentive care though, they can become downright ancient!

Max Duck Lifespan by Species

Mallard Ducks

Mallard ducks are one of the most common domestic duck species. In the wild, mallards typically live about 5-10 years. However, with proper care and a safe environment, pet mallards can live 12-15 years on average, with some living as long as 20 years!

Proper nutrition, housing, and veterinary care are key to ensuring a long and healthy life for pet mallards.

Muscovy Ducks

Muscovy ducks are a slightly larger, tropical species of duck. In their natural habitats, muscovys live around 4-5 years typically. With proper human care, muscovies have been known to live up to 15 years, with some even reaching 20 years old!

Their larger size likely contributes to their longer lifespan compared to smaller duck species. Providing muscovys with the right diet, shelter, and health monitoring can help these ducks thrive into old age.

Call Ducks

True to their name, call ducks are diminutive in size, making them one of the smallest domestic duck species. In nature, call ducks may only survive 2-3 years. Under human care, however, their lifespans are markedly increased.

The average lifespan of pet call ducks is 5-8 years, though some have been known to reach 10-12 years of age. Their tiny size requires special attention to their needs, especially providing adequate shelter and a nutritious diet, to enable call ducks to achieve their maximum lifespan potential.

Pekin Ducks

Pekin ducks are the most popular domestic duck breed. Naturally, they live 3-4 years on average. With attentive human care, the average Pekin duck life expectancy increases to 9-12 years. Some pampered pet Pekins even reach 15 years old! Their friendly nature and soft feathers make them favorite pets.

Ensuring proper housing, balanced nutrition, and health care will enable your Pekin ducks to live a long, happy life.

Indian Runner Ducks

Indian runner ducks are an active foraging species with an upright posture. In nature, they survive 2-3 years typically. Under human care, their average lifespan increases to 5-8 years, with some living 10-12 years. Their energetic foraging behavior requires ample space and enrichment.

Providing runner ducks with room to roam, a nutritious diet, and proactive health management enables them to live a long and vibrant life.

Wood Ducks

Wood ducks are a stunning species native to wooded wetlands. Naturally, they live around 5-8 years. With attentive care as pets, wood ducks can live 10-15 years on average, with some reaching ages of 20 years or more! Their beautiful plumage makes them popular aviary birds.

Careful monitoring of their habitat, nutrition, and health is key to ensuring a long lifespan for pet wood ducks.

Tips for Caring for Your Pet Duck

Provide the Right Food and Clean Water

Ducks require a balanced diet to stay healthy. Offer your duck quality poultry feed that contains about 16-18% protein. Make sure the feed is fresh, as ducks won’t eat stale food. In addition to commercial feed, ducks enjoy treats like mealworms, crickets, vegetables, and fruits.

Always provide fresh, clean water for drinking and bathing. Change the water daily to prevent the growth of algae and bacteria.

Give Them Plenty of Space

Ducks need room to move around and express their natural behaviors. A standard backyard is often sufficient, but make sure your duck has access to grass or dirt for foraging. You’ll also need a pond or kiddie pool at least 18 inches deep for swimming and keeping their feathers waterproof.

Provide a coop or shelter where your duck can sleep safely at night. The more space you can provide, the happier your duck will be!

Limit Environmental Stressors

Ducks are sensitive to extreme temperatures, so bring them inside or provide heating/cooling if necessary. Protect them from predators like coyotes, foxes, and raccoons. Minimize loud noises, bright lights, and other stimuli that can stress ducks.

Monitor the enclosure for sharp objects, toxic plants, or other hazards. With low stress levels, your duck will feel comfortable and live a longer, healthier life.

Watch for Illness and Injury

Catching health issues quickly improves outcomes. Weigh your duck weekly and watch for weight loss, which may indicate illness. Inspect the eyes, nostrils, feathers, feet for abnormalities. Look for changes in appetite, activity level, or personality which could signify sickness.

Isolate and treat any duck exhibiting concerning symptoms. Avoid overcrowding and introduce new ducks slowly to prevent disease spread. With prompt care from an avian vet, many common duck maladies are treatable.

Enjoy Your Duck’s Long Lifespan

Ducks can live surprisingly long lives, especially when well cared for. Here are some tips for helping your duck live a long and happy life:

Provide Proper Housing

Ducks need adequate space to exercise and forage. For 2-3 ducks, a coop of at least 10 square feet is recommended. The coop should be predator-proof with proper ventilation and bedding. Allow access to an outdoor enclosure or pond during the day so they can swim, walk, and flap their wings.

Offer a Nutritious Diet

Ducks need a balanced diet of pellets or crumbles and fresh greens. Pellets provide key nutrients like protein, calcium, and vitamins. Offer leafy greens like kale, spinach, and lettuce for fiber and nutrients. Scatter treats like corn, peas, and birdseed to encourage natural foraging.

Always provide fresh, clean water.

Keep Them Healthy

Monitor your ducks closely and look for any signs of illness. Treat minor cuts and keep their living areas clean. Provide vaccinations to protect against common duck diseases. Establish a relationship with an avian vet for checkups and medical care.

Socialize Your Ducks

Ducks are social animals that live in flocks in the wild. Having companion ducks can enrich their lives. Introduce new ducks carefully and monitor for any aggressive behavior. Spend time interacting with your ducks through activities like swimming together, hand-feeding treats, and providing bathing pools.

Let Them Live Out Their Lifespan

Ducks can live 5-10 years or even longer with proper care, compared to just 2-3 years for wild ducks. Don’t give up on an aging duck, as they can still have good quality of life in their senior years. Meet their needs for nutrition, housing, health monitoring and socialization.

With attentive care, your duck can be an enjoyable, long-lived pet. Get to know your duck’s unique personality, and they’ll bring you years of enjoyment watching them splash, waddle, and quack!


Ducks can live surprisingly long lives compared to their small size and seeming fragility. With proper care and a species well-adapted to captivity like a Pekin or Mallard, your duck could be waddling around for over a decade.

Now that you know what impacts duck lifespan and how to optimize your duck’s health, you can look forward to many happy years with your web-footed friend. Understanding your duck’s needs and expected longevity allows you to commit to giving them a safe, healthy home.

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