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Freckled Duck (Stictonetta naevosa) Fact Sheet: Managed Care

History of Managed Care

San Diego Zoo Global

  • 2018: First breeding at San Diego Zoo Safari Park (Scott 2018)

Husbandry

General

  • Shy (Fatima Lujan, personal communication, 2018)
  • Calm (Fatima Lujan, personal communication, 2018)

Shelter requirements

  • Large pond for swimming (Fatima Lujan, personal communication, 2018)
  • Vegetation for hiding (Fatima Lujan, personal communication, 2018)
  • Banks and in-water logs/branches for resting (Fatima Lujan, personal communication, 2018)
  • Soft loafing substrates to protect soft feet (Phoebe Vaughn, personal communication, 2018)
    • Helps with prevention of foot diseases (e.g., bumblefoot)
  • High vantage points to observe surroundings (Fatima Lujan, personal communication, 2018)
  • In some geographic locations, a heated shelter may be needed, especially for gravid females during breeding (Phoebe Vaughan, personal communication, 2018)

Social interactions

  • Sociable (Phoebe Vaughan, personal communication, 2018)
    • Tend to group together (more so than similar ducks) (Fatima Lujan, personal communication, 2018)
  • Vocalize to defend feeding or roosting sites (Phoebe Vaughan, personal communication, 2018)
    • Often submissive to other bird species when kept in mixed groups

Diet and feeding

  • Adult diet (Fatima Lujan, personal communication, 2018)
    • Floating pellets (nutrition composition for waterfowl)
    • Spray millet
    • Lettuce
    • Meal worms and crickets—as special treats
  • Duckling diet
    • Small floating pellets (Fatima Lujan, personal communication, 2018)
      • Nutrition composition for young waterfowl
        • More protein than adult pellet
    • A dish of water can be provided to allow young ducks to create a “crumb mash” (Phoebe Vaughan, personal communication, 2018)
  • Behavior
    • Adult Freckled Ducks sometimes put dry food in water and mash it with bill  (Fatima Lujan, personal communication, 2018)
    • Young can be “messy eaters” (Phoebe Vaughan, personal communication, 2018)
      • May avoid water if their down becomes covered in food
    • Inquisitive with regard to potential food objects (Phoebe Vaughan, personal communication, 2018)

Breeding

  • Provision of natural nest materials or nest boxes
    • Natural nests (Phoebe Vaughan, personal communication, 2018)
      • Plant materials (e.g., native sedges)
      • Freckled Ducks weave a bowl around themselves, about 0.3 m (1 ft) from the ground [Slimbridge]
    • Nesting boxes (Fatima Lujan, personal communication, 2018)
      • Made of wood
      • Two chambers (Fatima Lujan, personal communication, 2018)
      • Lid opens to allow observation (Fatima Lujan, personal communication, 2018)
  • Males often help build the nest; some females prefer to construct their own nest (Phoebe Vaughan, personal communication, 2018)
  • Males may stay close to female during incubation or pursue other females  (Phoebe Vaughan, personal communication, 2018)
  • Nest site is vigorously defended (Phoebe Vaughan, personal communication, 2018)
  • Other duck species (e.g., Black Headed Duck) may lay their eggs in a Freckled Duck’s nest (“egg dumping”) (Phoebe Vaughan, personal communication, 2018)
  • Slimbridge WWT breeding program (Phoebe Vaughan, personal communication, 2018)
    • Bred in groups—usually two males and four females
      • This gives both males a chance to sire offspring
      • Kept in same-sex groups during non-breeding season
    • Clutches laid year round
      • Up to four clutches per year
    • Reach maturity at about 2 years of age (Phoebe Vaughan, personal communication, 2018)
      • Influenced by the sex composition of their enclosure
    • Average clutch size
      • 5-7 eggs
    • Incubation period
      • 27-28 days
    • Maximum age of fertility
      • 17 (or more) years of age

Enrichment and training

  • In addition to large pond, separate water tubs allow for splashing and play (Fatima Lujan, personal communication, 2018)
    • Freckled Duck observed to put lettuce in these water tubs
      • Possibly play behavior

Hatching Success

Head and bill of a young Freckled Duck

The San Diego Zoo Safari Park hatched its first Freckled Duck young in 2018, after the opening of its Walkabout Australia exhibit.

Image credit: © San Diego Zoo Global. All rights reserved.

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