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Foreign Body Ingestion

Traumatic Ventriculitis

Ducks in many ways are similar to toddlers, in that they are very curious and like to explore their environment with their mouths. This can present a problem if ducks are allowed access to small foreign objects that can harm their bodies if ingested. Ingested objects can cause impaction, inflammation, metal poisoning, peritonitis, and/or if sharp enough, can penetrate their gastrointestinal tract.

Ducks are particularly drawn to any shiny objects. Some examples of objects which ducks have ingested (either on a one time or routine basis), resulting in harm to their bodies include:
  • Jewelry
  • Stones
  • Bedding
  • Small metal objects such as nails, nuts, washers, clips, bits of wire, screws, staples, etc.
  • Pieces of glass, wood, plastic, string, feathers
  • Floats and lures
  • Woman's stockings
  • Trash
  • Carpet fibers
  • Loose change

Diagnosis and Treatment

Foreign object ingestion may be difficult to diagnosis, for even when radiographs are taken, only metal objects are able to be detected, which may not all be visible. Depending on the object in question and it's location, removal by endoscopy may be possible. Otherwise, surgery may be needed to remove certain objects which will cause internal damage or are toxic.


Respiratory distress
Head shaking
Difficulty swallowing
Loss of appetite
Enlarged abdomen
Weight loss


  • History
  • Clinical signs
  • Physical exam
  • Endoscopy
  • Radiography
  • Blood tests


MethodMethod Summary
Supportive careIsolate the bird from the flock and place in a safe, comfortable, warm location (your own duck "intensive care unit") with easy access to water and food. Limit stress. Call your veterinarian.
Endoscopic removal
SurgeryMay be required to remove the foreign body.

Reported Cases

  • Case 1: Ingestion of polyacrylamide gel in a Birds at a zoo Two birds from a zoological collection suffered fatal intestinal obstruction after each ingested single particles of polyacrylamide gel. Polyacrylamide gel, used in soils for gardening and agriculture, exists as small granules in the dehydrated state but expands markedly upon exposure to water. Ref


  • Do not leave small metal or plastic objects where ducks have potential access to.
  • Carefully search, using a metal detector if needed, for the presence of small metal objects following the construction or repair of the duck's pen
  • Do not allow ducks access to trash
  • Provide enrichment objects within enclosures to help alleviate boredom (which is often associated with ingestion of foreign objects that shouldn't be eaten)


Risk Factors

  • Leaving small metal or plastic objects (nails, pennies, fence staples, wire bits, sticks, string, pieces of wood, small toys, etc.) where ducks can access.
  • Recent history of construction of or repairs to the duck's enclosure
  • Allowing ducks access to trash