How Long Do Ducks Live? Lifespans By Species

The Animalista mother duck with her babies
How long do ducks live largely depends on the species of duck and their environment. The more interesting fact is just how many duck species there are.

Ducks are one of the most familiar animals out there mostly because of their urbanization and adaption to us humans. Ducks belong to a large family of Anatidae that also includes swans and geese while also being divided into several subfamilies. Ducks are aquatic birds in most of their species and breeds and can be found in both seawater and freshwater. They are much more unique in their looks, behaviors, characters, and lifespans than you might expect. Let‘s find out how long do ducks live and learn more about these animals at the same time!

Avoiding the Confusion

The Animalista duck posing for a selfie

First, we need to avoid the confusion that comes when talking & learning about ducks. When it comes to ducks, there are more than plenty of different types of them to get your head spinning even if we are not including the very closely related geese and swans.

Some duck species that are the same may have different common names. In addition to that, many waterfowl birds that are genetically ducks are called geese. Confused already?

Before finding out how long ducks live we will try to clear up as much confusion as possible and separate them into different groups and explore the different types of these animals.

Recognizing the Different Species

Recognizing different waterfowl species is not easy as there are more than 150 of them under the name of Anseriformes family that includes ducks, geese, and swans.

However, let‘s put our focus on the main types of ducks exclusively so that it eventually leads us to our main point – finding out how long do ducks live!

Ducks are separated into different types based on a variety of factors that include characteristics, feeding, domestication, and habitat.

One key point to remember is that ducks are mostly descended from the Mallards ( a specie of dabbling ducks)

With hundreds of duck breeds on the planet, let‘s discover the different and unique types of ducks that live on our planet.

12 Types of Ducks to Know

The Animalista duck sitting in a tree

Wikipedia lists at least 83 breeds by name on their list. This list can be generalized to types of ducks since we have 12 different types of ducks in total.

Before we go into our final question and find out how long do ducks live, let‘s breakdown those 12 types of ducks into a quick and easy list:

  • Domestic Duck – These ducks are most raised for eggs and meat. They are often kept as pets too. Different in shapes and sizes, they live the longest among the species.

  • Whistling-Duck – They are tropical ducks with long legs and necks named after their whistling calls that can be heard over long distances.

  • Teals – a sub-type for dabbling ducks that have brightly colored plumage and beautiful coloration. They also feed along the surface of the water instead of tipping up.

  • Stiff-tailed Duck – Ducks with compact bodies and colorful bills. All of them have long and stiff tail feathers that are erected when resting. They also show unusual displays such as drumming noises, head throwing, and erecting short crests.

  • Sea-Duck – These ducks are marine birds that live in coastal areas. They have specialized glands that aid in tolerating salt water without getting dehydrated.

  • Scoters – Another sea-related duck. They have distinctive dark plumage and brightly colored bills. Scoters are mostly found along with marine habitats, especially in rocky areas.

  • Perching Ducks – Regularly found perching in the trees, they nest high above the ground while staying near the water. They are known to have prominent talons on their feet that gives them a superior grip for perching.

  • Merganser – The only type of duck to eat large amounts of fish and hunt for similar prey. Small and slim with narrow and hooked beaks, they are one of the best hunters among ducks.

  • Goldeneye – Named after their glowing and bright yellow eyes, these ducks are also recognized by their big and round heads. They mostly nest in tree holes.

  • Eider – Yet another type of sea-ducks. Found in northern and arctic habitats, these birds excel in their ability to protect themselves from harsh cold and extreme northern environment.

  • Diving ducks – Agile swimmers and divers that dive deep to salvage food that include insects, fish, and aquatic plant. Diving ducks mostly stay in the water.

  • Dabbling Duck – Mostly known for their tip-up move that they make to feed. They also feed on land and are mostly famous for the well-known Mallard species.

How Long do Ducks Live?

The Animalista duck taking a swim

Now that we know all the duck types, let‘s find out how long do ducks live. Compared to geese that can live up to two decades, ducks live way less as an average lifespan of a domestic duck is around 10 years.

The general rule of thumb for ducks is the larger the breed, the shorter the lifespan they will have and vice-versa.

Mallard ducks, the most common and familiar ducks on the planet live 5-10 years on average, depending on a lot of different factors. Also, did you know that one Mallard male duck holds a world record among ducks for having lived 26 years and 4 months!

Domestic ducks do live longer due to being more safe and healthy in general, but how about more wild ones? How long do these ducks live? They generally live shorter lives compared to domestic ducks and sea-ducks are a perfect example of why.

Sea-ducks do live only around 7 years due to high vulnerability to predators and lack of vegetation on open waters. That‘s why most of the sea-duck species are in population decline.

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By: Vytautas

Contributing Animalista

The Animalista contributors are animal people from around the world who use their writing talents to produce content that educates, entertains, and raises awareness for animal related topics.  

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