Do Ducks Actually Sleep at Night?

Before you commit to any kind of livestock, it’s important to learn what their waking hours are and, just as importantly, what their sleeping hours are.

Because when your animals are awake it means that you will tend to be awake, because they are active and getting into things, there’s always something that will come up.

a Crested Blue Swedish duck
a Crested Blue Swedish duck

One of the best kinds of livestock for people who like to keep a schedule are chickens, because they always go to bed at sundown and get up at dawn like clockwork. But how about ducks? Do ducks actually go to sleep at night?

Yes, ducks sleep at night but they will rarely sleep all night. They tend to sleep intermittently throughout a 24-hour period, sometimes for short naps and other times for longer stretches. Ducks can sometimes be very active even in the middle of the night!

Talk about a rude awakening for people who were expecting the steady consistency of chickens when it comes to bedtime hours!

There’s just no telling when your ducks will go to bed, and how long they will sleep. They aren’t really known for sleeping all night, and if you have a noisy flock and are going to bed yourself their constant quacking might keep you awake.

Unfortunately, there’s not much you can do about this: it’s just the way that ducks are wired. Read on, because there’s a whole lot more you’ll need to know on this topic.

About How Many Hours Do Ducks Sleep Per Night?

It’s hard to say: ducks don’t keep a consistent schedule for sleeping during the night. On average, domestic ducks tend to sleep about 11 hours a day, but that 11-hour block of sleep can be broken up into multiple longer naps or even a few short dozing sessions that are just a few minutes long.

They might sleep through the late afternoon only to be awake when the sun goes down for a long time, and then go back to bed after midnight. It truly is just too tough to predict!

You’ll have to learn the eccentricities of your flock after they get established and once you get to know them, but even then, be ready for surprises because they will rarely stick to a set schedule.

Some Ducks are Surprisingly Active at Night

A real shock for some new duck owners is just how active their birds can be at night. This is especially troublesome for people who are used to keeping chickens because they, as mentioned, invariably go to bed at sundown without failure.

That’s just not the case with ducks, and they might be up roaming around looking for something to eat, going for a swim, preening, or doing who knows what.

This is something you must be prepared for and you must be doubly prepared for it if you have a noisy breed, like Calls, and then double that preparation again if you keep your ducks very close to your home.

Take it from your author here that you might not be getting very much shut-eye if your ducks have lots of energy in the middle of the night!

When Do Ducks Go to Sleep?

Whenever they want. No joke! The vast majority of ducks do not have a set bedtime schedule.

As mentioned, it could be multiple times in the daytime, partially through the night, or any other combination you can think of. They do not dependably go to sleep at dusk, dawn, or any other time.

Ducks Will Take Naps Whenever They Feel Like It

Ducks, if they can be said to follow a rule at all when it comes to sleeping, will go to sleep whenever they feel safe and when they need to get some rest. As long as they aren’t completely stressed out or actively under attack, they can sleep whenever they want to.

But how they’re able to manage this is actually pretty remarkable. Ducks can actually put one half of their brain to sleep at a time, entering a state known as unihemispheric slow-wave sleep.

Basically, it allows one part of the brain to shut down and benefit from sleep while the other one remains active and in control.

This can allow ducks to basically “zone out” while standing on their feet, perched in a tree, or in any other circumstances while remaining partially alert. If your duck seems to be standing there, doing nothing, it might actually be napping!

Can Ducks Sleep on the Water?

Yes, they sure can! Many ducks are known to go to sleep right on the water, and most prefer to do this because they feel safer from predators. They have fewer predators that might attack them from below and most birds of prey tend to be reluctant to try to take them off the surface of the water.

Even more remarkably, because half of their brains remain engaged while they are sleeping, they can even paddle to stay in formation with other ducks that are sleeping near them, or fight a slow current. Pretty amazing!

Ducks Really Do Keep One Eye Open While Sleeping

Like I mentioned above, you might not even know your ducks are actually asleep. That’s because they can quite literally sleep with one eye open! It may not look like they’re sleeping at all from your perspective.

This amazing natural ability not only lets ducks grab meaningful rest whenever they feel like it, but they can also remain vigilant for threats, changes in the environment, or the approach of you or other ducks, so chances are good you’ll never be able to sneak up on them while they’re sleeping.

When ducks are moving together in a larger flock, they will engage in group resting, with ducks near the outer edge of the flock keeping an eye on the perimeter.

How Can You Tell if a Duck is Really Asleep?

It can be hard to tell if your duck is really asleep. But, there are a few telltales. First, watch for a duck to rotate its head backwards and then tuck its beak under its feathers, whether or not it is standing or sitting. If it assumes that position and is holding still, that’s a surefire indicator.

Another indicator is if the duck is standing on one leg, whether or not it is tucking its beak. This is a position that many breeds assume when sleeping, especially when standing on damp ground or near the water. However, if it is very cold outside, your ducks might stand on one leg just to conserve body heat.

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