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Duck eggs have to be kept warm during the incubation period in order to hatch. The incubation period is the period of time that the ducklings are developing inside of the egg. Duck eggs incubate for approximately 28 days. The mother duck, called a hen, keeps the eggs warm and protected. She lays the eggs inside of a nest that she built out of grass and reeds. She builds the nest in a hidden area by a body of water. Hens usually build their nests in the same general area that they hatched. The mother hen sits on top of her eggs during the incubation period. Her feathers provide the warmth that the eggs need to develop.
After the eggs are done incubating, they begin hatching. All of the eggs in a clutch (a clutch is a group of eggs that belong to one hen) hatch within a 24-hour time frame. A duckling uses their egg tooth to break out of their shell. The egg tooth is a growth at the tip of the duckling's beak. The whole purpose of the egg tooth is to assist the duckling in breaking the shell. The duckling repeatedly taps the shell until it cracks. After the initial shell crack, the duckling taps different sections of the shell to make an opening which will allow them to get out of the shell. Ducklings tap out a circular section in the shell to make an opening large enough for them to get out of. Once a circular crack is made in the shell, the duckling shakes his body, to break the shell open.
It is hard work for the ducklings to break open their shells. It can take them up to 24 hours to break out. The task of breaking out of their shells, is fully up to them. It is rare for the mother duck to help her ducklings break out of their shells. The hatched ducklings emerge into the world tired and ready to thrive under their mother's loving care. The egg tooth eventually falls off after hatching, since it is no longer needed.
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