Ducks feed on a wide range of foodstuffs, depending on what’s available in their habitat. Their diet is largely made up of aquatic plants, insects, fish eggs, small-sized crustaceans, fish, and amphibians.
It’s not odd to wonder if the protagonist of one legendary fairytale would gobble up its counterpart from a contemporary fairytale if given a chance. We’re talking about the ugly duckling and the frog prince.
So, do ducks eat frogs? The truth is – they do. But that depends on a number of factors, so keep reading to find out more about the what’s, how’s, and when’s of ducks’ appetite for frogs.
Food Habit of Ducks
Ducks do have an expansive and unpredictable consumption pattern. They will consume anything bearing healthy nutrients that they can find within their natural terrain. As all birds do, ducks’ stomachs have gizzards, a thick and muscular area on the stomach walls that helps mash down stodgy foods.
It is most common to see them munching on edible greens and water plants, but tiny insects also belong to the category of their preferred foods. In very pressing survival situations, wild ducks would even turn to small birds for nourishment.
These omnivorous birds spend a large amount of time of the day scrounging around for food and storing it. Apart from veggies and small insects, they feast on frogs and other small animals.
But the eagerness for hunting amphibians is much less in ducks than in other predatory species of its kind, such as eagles. In very rare or dire circumstances, you’d probably find ducks preying on frogs for food.
Sometimes you’d see people feeding bread to their domestic ducks. But with zero nutritional value to ducks, over consumption of bread can lead to malnutrition and unpleasant malformations.
A duck’s typical diet may include the following: small fish and fish eggs, snails, crabs, shrimp, fish roes, leaves, grass, seeds, and weeds. There are also flowers, algae, berries, fruits, nuts, and amphibians such as salamanders, frogs, tadpoles, others, etc.
Toads, Tadpoles, and Frog Eggs
During instances of low food availability, ducks resort to frogs and toads alike, as long as they are tiny in size. While the frog family appeals to some breeds of wild ducks as food and protein sources, others hunt down other small sea animals and birds.
Upon regularly feasting on frogs and toads, ducks form a penchant for the taste, and this liking draws them towards hunting frogs whenever they are in sight.
Toads are more prone to wander about on lands than frogs, so they may be a little more difficult to spot and prey on. Also, toads defend themselves in the face of attack by secreting a poisonous element called bufotoxin.
But studies have proved that ducks don’t face any effects of the poison and can easily shovel down their hunted toads, given that they find one in the first place. All in all, ducks do prefer the water-dwelling frogs over land-inhabitant toads for food.
But when comparing preferences, tadpoles or baby frogs are actually more to ducks’ liking than toads and frogs. This is because, due to their small size, tadpoles are easier to ingest than adult frogs. Adult frogs can sometimes be large enough for a duck to choke on while eating.
Tadpoles are a regular duck food in the wild when other more suitable forms of food aren’t available.
Tiny tadpoles are easy to hunt, too, as they reside on the surface of wetlands in large numbers. So, there’s no need for ducks to dive very deep into the water to catch tadpoles.
Among all other frog associates, ducks are most fond of frog eggs. The reason for this preference is the same as that for tadpoles. Even tadpoles can be too big for ducks to swallow, causing them to choke on the prey. Frog eggs are, therefore, the safest protein-rich food for ducks.
The fact that eggs don’t wiggle about how living and breathing frogs do makes them a significantly better and easier catch for ducks.
Which Ducks Are Most Likely to Eat Frogs?
Some duck breeds have a special preference for frogs as food sources, while others are happy to feast on insects and pests. Breeds that consciously incorporate protein in their meals are more likely to hunt frogs. But then again, frogs aren’t normal food for some breeds, as they are vegan and eat only greens and veggies.
This difference in preference isn’t solely attributable to breed, though. Whether a duck would eat a frog (and other protein-based creatures) or only plants largely depends on its inhabitation.
Let’s look at two duck breeds that are prominent feasters of frogs.
A scary and feral duck species, Mallard ducks, have a special liking for frogs. In fact, they rank right at the top when it comes to frog-eating duck breeds. Their appetite for the frog family is second to none, and they even purposefully forage around for frogs and toads.
This duck breed is particularly known for its finesse at hunting frogs, while other breeds aren’t as good.
Frog-hunting is the most frequent during the nesting season because, during this time, Mallards require a protein-rich diet to nurture their babies. The female Mallards go through all the trouble of foraging and catching the frogs, only for the males to steal them later.
Apart from frogs, tadpoles, and toads, Mallards also love feasting on fish and fish eggs.
Another species that rely on frogs for protein is the Black duck. Their diet contains very little vegetation and mostly small frogs and toads and tadpoles.
Do Domestic Ducks Eat Frogs?
As stated already, what a duck will feed on depends on what food is available in its surroundings. For most ducks, frogs aren’t even a staple in the diet. But we’ll come to that later.
Let’s talk about the food habits of domesticated ducks, in case you’re wondering if your pet duck needs to be fed frogs or tadpoles to satisfy their hunger.
Domestic ducks have a different stomach apparatus from their wild counterparts. Their diet is only composed of what their human owners feed them.
Unlike wild ducks, domestic ducks have a very sophisticated diet. Their main protein source is usually chicken feed, or sometimes “all flock feed,” although feeding them too much of it is not recommended.
Other food options to include in their diet are slugs, insects, grass, and vegetation that they’ll find easily by exploring their owners’ backyard. You may feed them fish, fruits, grains, and berries too, but beware of junk foods.
But do domestic ducks eat frogs? With a pond inhabited by frogs and other wildlife near them, domestic ducks would gladly catch and eat the tiny pond creatures, including the frogs.
Occasionally, you can feed your poultry duck hunted or store-bought frogs when they’re on their molting stage to boost egg production.
Are Frogs the Best Meal Option?
Frogs and toads aren’t always the first choice for ducks. When better, more appetizing options are in the vicinity, ducks will resort to those. Most ducks actually seek an herbivore diet when they have the option to choose it.
While creatures such as frogs could make ducks choke on them, fruit, nuts, bugs, seeds, fish, and algae can be significantly easier on their system. So, these foods do make for the components of a happy meal for the ducks.
Ducks are calculating and experimental with their diet. Hunger will make them gobble up anything edible, tiny, and lower in the food chain available in their habitat.
If you’ve been wondering do ducks eat frogs, here’s your answer. A frog is not a duck’s first choice for satisfying hunger. But being higher on the food chain means that in times of need and dearth of other food, the ugly duckling will prey on the Frog Prince, after all.