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My youngest son has just learned the word “mammal” and he has been referring to each animal and bird (even ducks, geese, and swans) as mammals ever since. Yesterday, I saw him pointing towards a duck while calling her a mammal. Even though my 10 years old knew about his habit, she still got a bit confused and wanted me to clarify whether ducks are mammals or not.
Frankly, It’s not just him or my oldest daughter, I have seen several adults considering ducks a mammal. So, I decided to educate him and my fellas online. It’s a widely asked question that deserves a detailed answer.
In this post, we would be revealing the truth about whether ducks are mammals or not(with scientific logic)? If they are, why are they so, and if they are not, why can we not call them a mammal? But first, let’s get to know ducks a bit more in detail.
Ducks are members of the Anatidae family that often get confused with coots, grebes, loons, and gallinules.
Ducks have feathers but they can not take flight like normal birds, they usually spend most of their life on or around fresh or seawater.
Dogs, coyotes, wolves, foxes, bobcats, skunks, hawks, owls, bears, and snapping turtles are their biggest predators whereas insects, worms, small water snails, amphibians, and crustaceans usually become their prey.
Now, let’s get back to our topic and settle the debate
Is Duck a mammal?
No Duck is not a mammal. Ducks, the most beloved part of the waterfowl family called Anatidae, can not be categorized as a mammal at all. Ducks are often confused as “mammals” or “amphibians” but the truth is the said creature is neither mammal nor amphibian.
Now that you know Ducks can not be referred to as “mammals” allow us to define what mammals are so you would be able to tell why ducks can not be called mammals.
Most of our previous science students now readers might already know what mammals are because we all have grown up reading about mammals, amphibians, birds, and reptiles repeatedly in our 3rd, 4th, and 5th standards.
These terms(mammals, amphibians, reptiles, and birds) are known but they can still confuse the art students or people that are quite weak at general knowledge. So, to make this post as helpful for them as it is going to be for the rest of us, we have decided to get a bit in detail.
Coming back to the point, let’s briefly discuss what mammals are, so we can tell why ducks can not be categorized as mammals.
Mammals or Mammalia are defined as a group of vertebrate animals that have the following
- Mammary glands(exocrine glands that induce milk production)
- Fur or hair
- Three middle ear bones
Mammals are super intelligent, they can communicate and organize themselves without any aid. Though the communication and the organizing ways can be different, some mammals communicate by singing, speaking, signaling, scent-marking, and echolocation and can form fission-fusion societies, harems, and hierarchies.
Several hundred species of mammals have been domesticated, some of them are used for transportation and agriculture whereas, the other a source of food; meat, and fur.
Why Can’t Ducks be Called “Mammals”?
Ducks can not be called or categorized as mammals for a variety of reasons;
- They can not produce milk as they lack mammary glands
- They have feathers, neither fur nor hair
- No middle ear bones
- They have beaks, not teeth
- They lay eggs, only a few mammals can lay eggs most of them give births otherwise
Other than these three specific reasons, ducks can not be used for transportation and agriculture like mammals, they can only be raised for eggs, meat, or pest control. So, it’s “totally” wrong to consider or call a duck mammal.
It’s understandable why ducks are often confused as amphibians, considering them a mammal is baseless
As amphibians and ducks live most of their life on the water, so it’s quite fair to get confused but there is no reason to call them a mammal when they have been blessed with feathers, wings, webbed feet, and beaks.
Ducks are birds belonging to the taxonomic class Aves, the debate settle here
Ducks are neither mammals nor amphibians, they are rather birds. Like all birds, they belong to the taxonomic class called Aves. Is this not proof enough for them to be called birds? The wings, feathers, and beaks are the few signs that make it mandatory to call a creature “bird”. Even though ducks can not fly around like all small-sized birds, still calling them reptile, amphibian, or mammal is not scientifically correct. Here are some ducks that can swim underwater to know their species.
Anatidae is a family of waterbirds, if this is not legitimate proof what else would be?
“Anatidae” is a biological name of a water bird family that includes ducks and ducks like birds geese, and swans. The birds belonging to this family are more adapted to swimming, floating, and diving in water than flying around like regular birds.
So, it’s clear that a bird does not always have to take a flight to be called a bird. Even if ducks can not fly, they would still be categorized as birds. The legitimate answer to the question “ducks a mammal?” No, ducks are not mammals, they are rather birds belonging to a bird family.
To be more specific, Ducks are aquatic birds
As Ducks spend most of their time in the water, they are generally referred to as aquatic birds, birds that live on or around water their entire life. The webbed feet, and water-adapted beaks, and legs make ducks a great aquatic bird.
Besides being simply called a bird, aquatic bird, Ducks are often called by other familiar terms as well
Ducks are most commonly referred to as aquatic birds, but some of us call them by several other terms as well. The most commonly used ones are;
Other than that, the other generic terms we use are a bird, flock, and chick, etc. No matter what they are called, they are authentic aquatic birds.
Ducks also fall in the farm animals category, but they are hardly regarded as one
As ducks are often raised at farms mainly for eggs and meat, they also fall in the category of farm animals. That is a least-known fact, so most of us do not regard them as farm animals. The feathers, wings, and webbed feet also make it not let the word “animal” suit such birds.
No, ducks can not be considered or categorized as mammals, they are flightless birds. Ducks are usually referred to as water birds, waterfowl, or aquatic birds.
The subject being discussed belongs to a biological water bird family called Anatidae and that leaves no confusion about their identity. Other than that, ducks can not be categorized as mammals because they do not have mammary glands(exocrine glands that induce milk production), fur or hair, and the three middle ear bones, the three conditions that make a living thing a mammal.
Despite being flightless, ducks are categorized as birds because ducks can not produce milk as they lack mammary glands, they have feathers, neither fur nor hair, no middle ear bones, they have beaks, not teeth, they lay eggs not give birth otherwise. If not regarded as birds(which they should be), ducks can also be categorized as farm animals, because they are usually raised at farms mainly for meat and eggs.