How to Tell If Pet Ducks Are Male or Female

Written by donella bowles
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How to Tell If Pet Ducks Are Male or Female
(Dean Golja/Digital Vision/Getty Images)

You may want to pick out a name for your new feathered friend but are unsure if it is a male or female duck. Although determining the sex of a duck is easier with adults, it can be done with ducks as young as a day old. By examining your duck's physical and vocal characteristics, you will be able to clearly determine whether you have a male or female on your hands.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy


    How to Tell if Pet Ducks are Male or Female

  1. 1

    Look at the colour and pattern of your duck's plumage. Male ducks in some species are more distinctive in colouring and patterns, such as the Mallard, which has bright green feathers on its head and a white ring around its neck. Females have plumage that is more muted in colouring, such as browns and greys. The gender-identifying colours are not evident until near adulthood, however, so if the ducks are young, other methods must be used to determine the sex. Keep in mind that not all duck species have sex-differentiated colour patterns. Even if they do, males and females may have very similar plumage in the summer months.

  2. 2

    Compare the size of your pet duck to the other ducks. Males in some breeds are often both larger and heavier than their female counterparts.

  3. 3

    Listen carefully to your duck's quacking. At around 6 to 10 weeks of age, the sound your duck makes can clue you in on its sex. The quack of a female duck is loud and distinct, while male quacks are more quiet and muffled.

  4. 4

    Examine your pet duck's tail feathers. At approximately two months of age, male ducks begin to show curved feathers, called sex feathers. Though not common, occasionally a female duck will temporarily develop a curved tail feather.

  5. 5

    Examine the sex organs of your pet duck by a process known as venting. According to Melvin Hamre, of the University of Michigan, this is best done with day old ducks or during mating season. To do this, hold the duck on its back. Find the vent, which is the opening the duck uses to defecate. Press your thumbs on either side of the vent to display the genitalia and examine it carefully. You may have to wait a minute or two for the duck to relax the muscles to allow the genitalia to appear. Males have an elongated organ, while the females have folds of tissue.

Tips and warnings

  • Vent sexing your pet duck can cause injury if not done properly. Consider taking your duck to the veterinarian if you do not have someone experienced with the procedure to help you.

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