Small Animals

Swimming Ducks


Look at how excited this guy is to get in the water start swimming like an Olympic athlete. He says “Let me down! Let me down! I want to swim!” It’s almost like he can sense that he’s close to the water. Once they let him go he will probably look a lot like this little guy.

The interesting thing about this little duck, is even though he so excited and it seems like he can almost feel the water in between his webbed toes, a duck cannot actually feel water regardless of the temperature, as there’s no nerves or blood vessels in their feet. There webbed feet are designed specifically for swimming, they work as paddles that propel them through the waters at great speeds.

These webbed toes also help them travel quickly over slippery riverbanks, and allow them to glide smoothly through the water. By catching the water with the webbing in between their toes and pushing it behind them this allows them to quickly glide through the lake faster than humans or any predators on their trail. Due to this webbing, they can’t move very well on land, this is why you see is so many ducks waddling from side to side.


Just about every part of a ducks body is designed for swimming. This includes the feathers on their body as well. They have a special gland called a Preen Gland, near their tail that produces oil which coats their feathers for complete water protection. A duck will then use his long beak to move that oil over his entire body. If they didn’t have this type of protection their feathers would quickly become waterlogged which would hold them back due to the weight of the saturated feathers, and allow the water to get to the soft fluffy feathers underneath.

His beak or sometimes called bill is not only used to move this oil, but it’s also used to collect vegetation throughout the water. It’s generally long and flat and has notches along the side called lamellae. These lamellae, prevent any food from escaping out of the sides.

Think of how useful it would be if we all had webbed toes. We could glide to the water as eloquently as ducks do, and get as excited as these guys every time summer came around and it was time to go for a swim.


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