1 Bay Road, Fennell Bay NSW 2283
Westlakes Veterinary Hospital

Westlakes Veterinary Hospital


Water Off A Duck's Back

Ever wondered where the saying ‘Water off a duck's back’ came from? You're about to find out!

We were met early one Tuesday morning with a very wet and very limp duck.

Ducks have a gland near their tails called the Uropygial gland which produces a waterproofing oil, the duck rubs this oil all over their feathers with their beak thus waterproofing themselves.  This oil creates a protective barrier against cold weather as well as water.

When a duck is not preening (grooming) enough they can become waterlogged, wet and dangerously cold. This paired with the lack of sunshine over the long weekend meant that our feathered friend was in serious trouble!

Dr Paul and Nurse Heidi had to act quickly as the duck was barely responsive and could not even hold its head up. Heating the duck too quickly could cause even more damage to an already gravely ill animal.

With a hair dryer, warm towels, a heat disk and lots of warm fluids and glucose for energy, we started to see improvements! With constant monitoring, warming and fluids over the course of the day, our feathered friend stood up, held her head high and even gave us a grateful hiss or two!

She continued to improve overnight and thanked us the following morning with a big green SPLAT!

If you own a duck always ensure they are preening themselves and if you have any worries at all please don’t hesitate to give our caring and qualified staff a call on (02) 4959 5766.

You can check if your duck is waterproof by dripping some water on their feathers and seeing if the water rolls off!

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