When ducklings, or baby ducks, first hatch, they are born ready to travel. Ducklings hatch with their eyes open, and they also are born with a protective down covering. These are important features for ducklings, because very soon after birth, the hen, or mama duck, will often waddle with her ducklings for miles to find food sources that are rich in nutrients. Some hens and ducklings are known to have traveled three miles away from their nests just to find nutritional food. So what do baby ducks eat?
At first, ducklings do not have to worry too much about food. This is because ducklings have built-in yolk sacks, which consist of leftover egg yolk from the eggs in which the ducklings grew. The yolk sack has enough nutrients to nourish a duckling for three whole days. While ducklings are traveling with their mother to find food, the nutrients from the yolk sack keep them full.
By the time the hen and her ducklings reach the source of food, the ducklings are ready to eat. Ducklings need food that is rich in protein and fat, because these types of food sources help baby ducks grow. Some of these foods include snails, earthworms and crustaceans. Baby ducks also eat invertebrates, insects and insect larvae.
Ducklings grow very quickly, and within two weeks, they begin to look more like and eat more like adult ducks. Instead of eating only protein-rich foods, the ducks begin to incorporate more plants into their diets.
Domestic ducklings, or pet ducklings usually eat specialized duck food found at a pet store. Pet owners can offer small portions of fruits and vegetables to the baby ducks as snacks, but these treats should not be counted as a full meal. Pet ducklings need the same protein-rich and fatty nutrients as wild ducks do, because these nutrients help baby ducks grow properly. Baby ducks also need plenty of clean drinking water available.