Duck Predators: How to Protect Ducks from Weasels

Learn How to Discourage this Persistent Predator & Protect Your Flock

by Erin Snyder

Duck predators come in many sizes, but one of the duck’s most deadly predators is the weasel. Learn how to protect your flock from an attack and discourage these persistent duck predators from visiting your backyard.

Getting to Know the Weasel’s Hunting Style

When comparing a list of duck predators, weasels may seem small and unlikely to inflict much damage compared to a fox or coyote. A small member of the mustelid family, weasels are ferocious predators that can destroy an entire flock in one visit.

While they prefer to do most of their hunting at night, weasels also hunt at dawn and dusk and even attack in daylight. Before attacking a duck, these tiny, blood-thirsty predators dance, twisting their bodies and hopping about to confuse their prey.

Once the flock is confused, the weasel will pounce on its target, wrapping its long body around the prey to immobilize it before inflicting a lethal bite to the back of the head or neck.

Calling Card

Weasels will often destroy an entire flock in a night. Deceased victims will frequently be placed in a neat pile with the blood sucked out and the head and neck bitten off.


Like many duck predators, weasels are primarily ground hunters. However, if hungry enough, they are strong climbers and will scale run walls and trees to gain access to the coop or run. Often inhabiting marshlands and ponds, weasels are excellent swimmers and may attack ducks floating on a pond or stream.

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Like many other duck predators, weasels also excel at digging under and gnawing at fencing and can squeeze through small holes to gain entrance to the coop or run.

A Weasel’s Habitat

Weasels thrive in many environments, including woods, farmland, and marshes, where they often live close to humans without being seen. They frequently make their nests in tree roots but will also nest in small crevices in marshland or fields.

Why Ducks?

Did you know? Backyard ducks are more likely to be attacked by a weasel than chickens. When left to float on a pond or stream, many domestic waterfowl find themselves an easy target for savvy predators like the weasel.

A Duck’s Self-Defense

Despite the popular myth that domestic ducks can avoid a predator attack by flying away like their wild cousins, many backyard duck breeds cannot fly. Being grounded puts ducks at a disadvantage to predators. While ducks can’t protect themselves from predators, flock owners can take many steps to prevent their flocks from being attacked.

Stay Off the Pond

Yes, ducks love water, but your flock doesn’t need a pond to stay clean, healthy, or happy. Many backyard ducks prefer splashing in a kiddie pool or stock tank in the safety of the run.

While most weasels attack at night, some may prey on unsuspecting waterfowl during daylight. The best way to ensure these cunning hunters don’t kill your flock is to avoid the pond, no matter how calm and inviting the waters may look.


A Safe Coop and Run

Weasels are also among the smallest of the duck predators. With the ability to squeeze their tiny bodies through gaps as small as a quarter, chicken wire is no match for these fierce killers.

Protect your ducks from weasels by predator-proofing your coop and run. Cover the run sides and roof with a half-inch 19 gauge hardware cloth and attach predator skirts to deter digging predators. Leave no gap bigger than ½ inches in either your coop or run.

Coop floors should be constructed from cement or wood to prevent weasels from burrowing underground and gaining access to the coop.

Free Range Safely

Another way to prevent a weasel attack is allowing ducks to only free-range while directly supervised by an adult. Supervised free-ranging prevents many predators from trying to steal a duck.

Not only does supervising free-range time with your flock create a safer experience for your flock, but it’s also a great way to bond with your ducks.

Many duck owners prefer to free-range their flock. To do so safely, ducks should always be confined to the coop an hour before sunset and let out an hour after sunrise the next morning.

Deterring Weasels

Creating an unfriendly environment is one of the best ways to deter weasels on your property. Cleaning up weeds, brush, fallen trees, and spilled feed will reduce the chances of weasels wanting to take up residence in your backyard.

Weasels will often prey on rodents, so eliminating mice and rats on the property is also an excellent weasel deterrent.

Employing a few barn cats should help to keep weasel populations in check. Remember, feral and domestic cats can also prey on ducklings and ducks, so be sure to protect ducks from your feline friends.

Another weasel deterrent is to have a male dog mark around the perimeter of your coop and run. However, bobcat urine (available from feed stores and outdoor retailers)  will also work if you don’t own a dog.

While weasels are among the most deadly duck predators, attacks can be prevented when ducks are housed in a secure coop and run. Going the extra mile and avoiding ponds and free-ranging will significantly reduce the chance of a weasel attack on your backyard flock.

This article about duck predators was written for Chickens magazine online. Click here to subscribe.

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