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When Can Baby Ducks Swim? (Explained)

Raising ducklings is fun but can be confusing sometimes. Especially when they love to be a water baby but you can’t guess the right time to let them be.

We have tried to focus on all the facts that have an impact on a ducklings’ swimming phase. You might love to read it as it answers when your baby ducks can hit the water.

When can baby ducks swim?

Practically baby ducks can swim at the age of one week. But they don’t get a functional oil gland at that time so they can get waterlogged if not observed. Otherwise, ducklings can swim after hitting one week. Around their fourth to the eighth week, it’s safer to let baby ducks swim on their own.

Ducks have an oil gland that spreads oil over their feathers. It protects their body from getting submerged while swimming.

Baby ducks don’t grow the adult feathers or oil glands until their fourth week. Thus they aren’t waterproof.

Naturally, the mother rubs her oil on babies to help them swim at the beginning. But for hatched ducks, it’s less safe to take a dip in the water for a long time.

But that doesn’t mean baby ducks can’t swim at an early age at all. According to a few experts, practicing swimming from babyhood speeds up their growth. So with proper monitoring, they can swim after reaching one week’s age.

After baby ducks reach their fourth or fifth week, their physical features improve. Their feathers work accordingly

Pekin ducks:

Pekin ducks get their adult feathers in the first month but before that, they can swim for a while under observation.

This same observation period is mandatory for all ducklings for safety.

Can baby ducks swim right away? Do they need to swim?

Baby ducks cannot swim instantly. Because they aren’t born with an effective oil gland that keeps adult duck’s waterproof. But they can almost swim after one week.

Newborn ducks are sensitive to cold and can drown if you let them swim on their own. Naturally getting some oil from their mother helps ducklings float for some time.

But hatched ducklings required time and care to get used to swimming. So they cannot swim right after they are born.

It’s not that swimming is a requirement for ducklings. Baby ducks can easily live without swimming for a few days.

But to keep eyes and nostrils healthy, it’s good for them to submerge their heads underwater often. Otherwise, they can be kept away from swimming in the first week.

How to teach baby ducks to swim?

By nature, ducklings can swim after it reaches a certain age. But they must be introduced to water and the techniques to get used to it. You can follow these steps mentioned below train your baby ducks swimming:

Make them comfortable in the water:

You can introduce your newborn ducks to water by putting them in a little water. Be careful with the temperature as it must match their brooder temperature.

Let them stand:

The water tub should contain a grippy base with little water. So the baby ducks can stand too.

Help them to get off the water:

Make the ducks get them out from the water on their own. It does half of the job.

A painting tray can be a good option in this case. They can swim and walk out easily when tired.

Give them time:

Ducklings will swim instinctively after they have grown their adult feathers. Till then buy some time and let them explore the water life!

How long should I let my baby ducks swim? How often do they need to swim?

Baby ducks are vulnerable and sensitive to water. So their swim time must be short. Staying in the water for a long time can make a duckling sick. It can catch a cold and even sink. So you must limit the swimming time,

You can let your ducklings swim for around ten to fifteen minutes until they are one month old.

For baby ducks swimming every day is not a must but it’s good to keep their nostrils and eyes moist. Also, swimming fastens the improvement of the oil gland.

If the water is not too cold and they are watched over attentively, swimming every day won’t harm. But that’s not a hard need for newborn ducks. Otherwise, they can swim every other day if attended.

What temperature water do baby ducks swim in?

Ducklings’ swim water temperature should be the same as the brooder. 90 degrees is good warmth at the start. Then you can decrease it gradually per day.

Baby ducks find it difficult to cope up with sudden temperature changes. As they aren’t properly grown, a variety of temperatures can cause ducklings discomfort. So you must keep their hatch temperature in mind before they go swimming.

Lowering the temperature by one degree every day is a good technique to prepare baby ducks for the normal environment. Gradually they get habituated to the normal degrees.

After getting used to the outdoor environment, they can effortlessly swim in normal temperatures. But before they are fully feathered it’s good to keep the degrees upper 20.

Where can baby ducks swim?

Baby ducks love water just as much as grown-up ones. They will want to have a splash wherever they find water.

But you must be aware of the places before you let them dive. Since they are young they can’t just get in the water anytime or anywhere.

Take a look at our explanation in this regard that might help you to choose their place!

In cold winter/winter:

Ducklings don’t need to swim in the cold but they might love to take a dip. If the water temperature is not below 20 degrees, let them swim. Otherwise, it’s not a good idea for baby ducks to swim in too cool weather.

In chlorine pools:

Chlorine pools are safe for ducklings to swim in. But the chlorine level must not exceed 25 ppm. Better if kept between 1.0 and 3.0 ppm.

In a bathtub:

Bathtubs with shallow water are a nice place to let baby ducks swim. But the swim session must be supervised and short.

In saltwater:

Ducklings can swim in saltwater. Actually, the density of saltwater helps them more to float.

In sink:

Baby ducks can swim in a sink where they can touch the bottom. A shallow pool of warm water in the sink is enjoyable for them.

In pond:

The depth and temperature of ponds can make ducklings soaked up and chilled. So better not let them swim there until they get fully feathered.


Baby ducks can’t swim underwater because they don’t function that way. They might get waterlogged or even drown.

Do baby ducks get tired of swimming?

Though baby ducks are fond of water they can get exhausted by swimming. Ducklings at a young age aren’t strong enough. They are new explorers who want to have fun.

But paddling or swimming for a longer duration can drain their energy. They can’t keep the balance or get off quickly.

Moreover, they don’t get fully feathered by that age to float around. As water swamps them too soon and they get chilled. Hence if they swim for a long time they can get tired. 

When can baby ducks be released into a pond?

You have to wait for their adult feathers to grow before transferring baby ducks into a pond. Ponds are a huge deal for them to manage. For that, they need a developed oil gland and feathers.

Baby ducks are not suitable for large water sources until they are fully feathered. Till then their body lacks oil and so gets soaked. This might cause them to get cold, even drowning. 

Besides, they can get lost in a bigger place like ponds and get in danger. At around seven to nine weeks their body is improved for larger spots. Then they can be released into a pond.

When do ducks get their oil?

There is no fixed time for ducks to get their oil. For some ducks, it is when they are four weeks old. Again, many ducks produce oil at around seven-twelve weeks.

Mostly it depends on their plumage other than age. Their oil gland functions the best when they are fully covered in adult feathers. 

The growth of feathers varies in different ducks. Pekin ducks get adult feathers at two months whereas Mallards get mature feathers between twelve to fourteen weeks. So their oil production relies on their grown feathers.

Final Thoughts

In general baby ducks can swim when they are one week old. It comes instinctively. However, the swim time must be limited and monitored. Also, the water level must stay low at this age. Whenever baby ducks reach their first or second month they can swim anywhere without observation.