Things To Understand Before Keeping Indian Runner Ducks As Pets

For those who want to keep Indian runner ducks as pets in their farm or garden, it would be a perfect choice, given the shape and nature of these birds. Not only are they great entertainers, but they are also excellent for a lucrative business.

The elegant and slim Indian Runner Duck is an extremely unique breed of duck and, although there is a great debate about its origin, (many enthusiasts believe they were bred for their beauty and uniqueness rather than evolve from a natural selection over a period of time).

The truth is that the best breeders and associations around the world agree that it is vital that the purity of the Indian runner duck breed be protected not only by their highly precious personalities and amazing movements but by their incredible placement skills that you can turn into a profitable business. Indian Runner Ducks are used for two main purposes: Duck farming and keeping as pets

In many ways, the Indian Runner Duck is the perfect farm duck or backyard you can have.

The body of the Indian Runner Duck almost projects a very funny figure. It is narrow and long and maintains a characteristic cylindrical shape throughout. It flattens only around the shoulders and a kind of funnels towards the body.

Traits of Indian Runner Ducks

  • Length: 23 inches or 58 cms
  • Wingspan: 30 to 40 inches or 76 to 102 cms
  • Weight: 3 to 5 pounds or 2 to 4 kilos
  • Diet: Omnivorous. Feeds on seeds, tubers, aquatic plants, and crops
  • Range: Usually found near wetlands.
  • Classification: Class: Aves, Order: Anseriformes
  • Sexual Maturity: 5 to 9 months
  • Mating Season: Spring
  • No of Eggs per month: 10 to 12

Want to know how to feed your Indian Runner Ducks? Here you can read: What Do Indian Runner Ducks Eat: Runner Ducks Feeding Guide

The Indian Runner Duck is possibly the most recognizable duck in history due to its unusual vertical posture, striking shape, and bone definition, all of which contribute to its unique status in the duck world.

When they are excited, their body is almost completely erect. When these ducks are absolutely straight, you can see a correct line from the back of the head to the tail. However, when they are relaxed, they tend to keep their bodies tilted at an angle between 50-70 degrees.

Where other ducks “waddle”, these ducks “run.” The reason why Indian Runner Ducks are literally able to “run” is the unusual placement of a set of very strong legs located just at the back of their bodies.

Runner ducks are a very light breed, which contributes to their agile skills, super speed, and incredible strength. Its strong legs are able to easily carry thin and upright bodies and long necks, frantically foraging and generally doing mischief.

The total length of the duck is measured from the tip of its beak to the middle toe. A drake (male duck) usually measures between 65 and 80 cm, while a hen (female duck) measures between 60 and 70

The head of the Indian Runner Duck has a remarkable wedge shape and shows an unusually straight beak with eyes that are placed high on the skull. This is not a duck that you can easily confuse!

The head is usually lean and aerodynamic to help the duck to run better.

The bill has a very obvious wedge shape and fits perfectly in the skull with the flat top. The eyes of the Indian Runner Duck are particularly interesting. They are bright and alert and have a characteristic fullness. The eyes are placed so high that sometimes they seem to be above the skill line.

The neck is always in line with the body. The long thin neck is an important feature of these ducks. There is a part of the neck that is muscular and well marked. It stands out and has a layer of hard feathers around it that accentuates this muscular region.

Usually, the ratio of the body to the neck is 2:1


Runner ducks were discovered in carvings made of stone over one thousand years ago in the Indonesian islands of Java. Later found in Malaya and Lombok in the mid-19th century, European explorers observed these agile and determined foragers in their accounts of their explorations. Indian runner ducks have also appeared in several Dutch paintings of the early 17th century.

However, the origin of the Indian Runner duck has often been the subject of debate. While many believe that the breed must have originated in India because of its name, this is not entirely true. However, derived from cave paintings and other historical records, it is quite obvious that this breed originated in the East Indies.

In addition, the Indian runner ducks and their eggs were salted and preserved by sailors on ships that traded with the Dutch East Indies in the early 17th century, hence the name of ‘Indian’ Runner Duck. Of course, the name is quite explicit. However, there is more to this breed than its roots. It has been developed and improved in several countries, giving us various colors and types of Indian runner ducks.

However, the circumstantial evidence available shows that these eastern ducks could have reached Europe and England well before the 19th century. There are several records of ships that carry loads of ducks. This could have been the name of the Indian Runner Ducks back then. On top of that, duck eggs were sent back in the same charges to the Cape of Good Hope.

The paintings of Dutch masters, already in the seventeenth century, suggest that the existence of a certain breed of ducks that closely resembles the Indian runner duck. The shape and color patterns of these ducks are strikingly similar to the modern Indian Runner Duck.


Indian ducks are believed to be the most adaptable species of all. These birds not only inhabit several countries in the northern and southern hemispheres but also inhabit various diverse climatic regions. Whether in the cold Arctic tundra or in the subtropical parts of the world, Indian runner ducks can live in several inhabitants.

They are found in both saltwater and freshwater wetlands. Usually, these ducks prefer to live in wetlands to feed and forage. They are also found in parks, lakes, estuaries, rivers, and small water entrances.

Sometimes they are also found in the open sea, near the coast. In general, Indian runner ducks choose water with a depth of less than 1 meter. They avoid areas that are too deep.

If there is aquatic vegetation near a body of water, you will likely find a larger population of Indian runner ducks.

For more information: Do Your Pet Indian Runner Ducks Need A Pond? (Explained)

The population of these Ducks is so important that, most frequently, regulations for hunting are established after the study of the distribution of Indian Runner Ducks in a particular region. It is ironic that, although the Indian runner duck is the most hunted duck in North America, it is the population of these ducks that determines the conservation status of several species of waterfowl in a particular region.

The reason why most ducks are in a wetland habitat is that wetlands are easily the most productive of all ecosystems. In this habitat, you will find several organisms that live in perfect harmony and also benefit from each other. Wetlands are a very important part of nature, as they improve the quality of life on earth.

If you planning to keep Indian runner ducks as pets in your home or farm, you should make sure to provide them with at least one artificial pond or a body of water where they can feed and live comfortably. Good water for swimming is a survival requirement for an Indian runner duck. Here you can learn more about the types of housing for Indian Runner Ducks you can provide.


An Indian Runner Duck is the perfect backyard duck. These ducks are very calm and pleasant birds to have around. However, all you need to know about this breed is that they are extremely anxious birds. They will be dead of fear (not literally) for almost anything.

Therefore, if you need to handle these birds or lift them, you must be more cautious. You should also try to keep them in flocks or in pairs so they can cope better with anxiety. Socialization is extremely important for Indian Runner Ducks and you should ensure that you provide an environment that allows it.

Indian Runner Duck has often been compared to pets like dogs. These birds tend to follow you around the house. They can also be taken for walks like Ducks if you only have them as pets, without commercial interest. In the latter case, you would obviously have a larger flock that will not require long walks with the owners.

The best quality of these ducks is that they are awfully silent. These birds will never bother you if they are in a flock. They will quack endlessly if they are threatened. However, they will usually take care of their own job and simply look in your backyard with the fellow ducks.

Indian runner ducks are extremely friendly, social, and shy types of birds, which generally form small groups (composed mainly of family members) during the breeding season. When breeding is not at the forefront of their minds, they tend to form larger groups, although they do not tend to form the immense flocks that other water birds make. On rare occasions, ducks will live alone.

Male Indian runner ducks engage in intimidation behaviors to defend their territories and secure their reproduction rights. During such exhibits, drakes will raise and lower their cranial crests, shake their heads, move their tails from side to side, clap their beaks, hiss, and peck at their rivals. Males also perform similar behaviors to attract the attention of females.

Indian ducks are the most vocal of all duck species. They can be extremely noisy. As I discussed earlier, the typical call of a male Indian runner duck is usually a loud whistle. The sound emitted by a male duck is extremely shrill, while the sound made by a female is a typical duck quack.

Dabbling Ducks

Indian runner ducks belong to a group of ducks known as dabbling ducks. These ducks belong to the bird family known as ‘Anatidae’.

The most famous duck species in this family are the ‘Moa Nalo’ that are extinct. However, it is believed that all dabbling ducks, including Indian Runner ducks, are related to this extinct species.

The list of birds that belong to this family has been much debated for several years. While some biologists argue that only ducks with membranes should be included in the Anatinae family, others say that most ducks belong to this family. Indian runner ducks are among the species that have definitely been classified under this family.

Dabbling ducks have been named that way because they only eat the plant matter found on the surface. They tend to graze or upend the surface of the water to eat. These ducks dive very rarely. These ducks are usually found near estuaries and freshwater.

The body of these birds does not allow them to dive easily. Their legs are usually placed in the center of the body. This allows them to swim comfortably and also walk well on land. However, they cannot dive deeply to look for food.

These ducks are also known as “puddle ducks.” As they usually feed on the surface, they prefer to remain in waters that are not too deep. The most obvious difference between dabbling ducks and diving ducks is the size of their feet. Usually, puddle ducks or dabbling ducks have feet that are smaller. Since they do not need to propel themselves deeply into the water to feed, they do not have very large feet.

The flight patterns of the two types of birds are also clearly different. While splashing ducks can easily take off from the surface, diving ducks need more strength to fly. They may also need to run a short distance on the surface of the water before taking off.

What is evident is that dabbling ducks are better at flying. In fact, they are very strong at flying. Needless to say, Indian runner ducks also maintain this characteristic feature. They are migratory birds that fly very long distances in the winter months in search of food and adequate nesting. These birds leave their usual nesting sites in the winter months and make trips to Northern Mexico. They usually choose to migrate at the beginning of the fall season.

The only things these birds need to survive are food and a good place to rest. These birds are highly adaptable. So when natural foods like pondweed, wild rice, and smartweed are not available, they simply eat grains like corn. They find these alternatives on farms and also agricultural land.

Then, during the migration period, you will see that rice fields in the southern hemisphere attract large populations of Indian runner ducks. They also tend to cause a lot of damage in the process of finding something to eat!

Reproductive Cycle

The Indian Runner Duck is known for its egg-laying abilities. In a breeding season, a female can lay up to 220 eggs. That is why the Indian Runner Duck is one of the most preferred ducks for those who are interested in a lucrative egg business.

Female Indian runner ducks prefer to mate with large males that have the largest crests. Unlike most other ducks, which form monogamous couple bonds, Indian ducks have a promiscuous reproduction system, characterized by brief interactions. The largest and most imposing males usually reproduce with several females. More than one male can breed with some females.

Indian wild ducks breed from August to May, during the summer of the southern hemisphere. Domestic Indian runner ducks adapt to the climate in which they live, which means that most captives in North America and Europe breed from March to September, in the summer of the northern hemisphere.

Most ducks only copulate in the water. However, Indian runner ducks will breed in water or on land.

Male ducks have spiral-shaped penises. Similarly, a female’s vagina is spiraling; however, the vagina and penis spiral in opposite directions. It is believed that this is an adaptation that prevents males from breeding with involuntary females.

Shortly after reproduction, the Indian Runner ducks begin to prepare a nest. Wild Indian ducks usually nest in hollows of trees that are between 12 and 60 feet (4 to 18 meters) from the ground. However, some females will use remote areas on the ground, such as hollow logs or groups of thick vegetation.

Captive Indian ducks generally build their nest on the ground, in a secluded area, hidden by vegetation or other objects. Females cover the bottom of the nest with soft feathers.

Females begin to lay an egg every day until the nest contains approximately 8 to 16 eggs. Once the final egg has been laid, the female begins to incubate the eggs, colloquially called “sitting” in the nest. The interesting thing about the Indian Runner Duck is that it is a lonely nest. Females like to choose a male and mate with only one male in each breeding season. Although ducks normally exhibit aggressive sexual behavior, with Indian runner ducks, it is the female who takes a call.

Until this time, the eggs remain dormant. they do not begin to develop until the female begins to keep the eggs warm. This causes the eggs to synchronize so that they all hatch at about the same time. Otherwise, the first egg laid can hatch up to two weeks before the last egg, which would cause problems for the mother, since she would have to incubate the remaining eggs, as well as brood and feed her young simultaneously.

While incubating the eggs, the female will leave the nest for about an hour each day. During this time, she will eat, drink, defecate and, occasionally, bathe or swim. During this time, the eggs of wild Indian runner ducks and free-range captives are at the greatest risk of predation.

Approximately 35 days later, which is about a week longer than most other duck species to incubate their eggs, will “pip”, which means that the ducklings will pass through the shell and prepare to leave the egg. In the process, the hatchling has a calcified structure at the tip of their beaks, known as an egg tooth, which will fall alone in about three or four days.

For more details: Mating And Hatching Of Indian Runner Ducks (Explained)

The hatchlings emerge from their eggs within approximately 24 hours of the piping. When leaving the eggs, the young ducks are wet and their back lies against their bodies. However, young ducks dry quickly and, in a few hours, they seem dry and fluffy. Young ducks have their eyes open and walk well at the time of hatching, and are considered precocial.

Youngs is always completely covered with feathers. Once they have hatched, they are ready to leave the nest in approximately 16 hours. After about 50 to 70 days, these birds are completely independent.

Young ducks are unable to keep their body temperature adequately high by themselves, so the mother keeps them warm by sitting on them and covering them with their feathers.

Food Habits

Indian Runner Ducks are opportunistic omnivores who eat a surprisingly high variety of foods. An important part of their diet is composed of several aquatic and terrestrial plants, while animal prey comprises the rest.

They consume the leaves, stems, roots, fruits, seeds, and flowers of these plants. These ducks graze on grasses, herbs, similar to geese.

In addition, animal-based foods are an important component of the diet of Indian ducks. They are not terribly fussy and will consume virtually any small creature they can catch. Insects, spiders, worms, and other invertebrates are their most common prey, but occasionally, Indian ducks will eat small snakes, frogs, fish, and other creatures.

When feeding in the water, the Indian runner ducks will “end up” collecting food from the mud below. These ducks prefer to forage in relatively shallow waters, between 6 and 18 inches (15 to 45 centimeters) deep. This is especially true for young ducks, which tend to avoid deeper waters as a practice.

Indian Runner Ducks depend on different food sources in different geographical areas. This is due in large part to their opportunistic eating habits. If it is an unusual or unique food source is available in a certain area, such as waste corn from an agricultural area, the ducks will seize the opportunity.

Adaptations Made By The Indian Runner Duck

Like all other duck species, the Indian Runner Runner Duck has certain survival adaptations that have helped them thrive. To survive several generations, these birds have made physical and behavioral changes according to changing circumstances.

Floating Mechanism

One of the most important adaptations in all ducks is its Air Sacs. Ducks are not big birds but they are relatively heavy. There are some features that help birds stay afloat on water surfaces.

There is a special gland, the Uropygial gland. The oil produced by this gland spreads throughout the duck’s body, which makes it water-resistant. As the water is not retained in the feathers, the weight of the duck remains constant helping them stay afloat.

The presence of internal Air Sacs keeps these birds floating. When the ducks simply float on the water, the alveoli fill with air. However, when birds want to dive, they squeeze the air and become heavy.

The last and most important feature is the presence of hollow bones. Like all birds, Indian runner ducks also have hollow bones that keep them light and help them swim.

Caring For The Young

In the case of ducks, it is the females that take care of the ducklings. Males tend to leave females after eggs hatched and move to their own flocks. The female has developed several interesting methods to protect her young.

To begin, when she sees a threat approaching, she will shout out loud to kill the predator. If the predator closes, the mother duck usually leaves the nest and keeps the ducklings behind. While this may seem cruel, it is important to know that ducklings have been trained for a situation like this. They will remain absolutely still.

While the predator is lingering around, the mother duck will jump into the open water and flap around like she is injured. This takes the attention of the predator from the little ones.

Mother ducks are extremely brave. They will not hesitate to attack a predator when the time comes.

Flying Ability

The Indian runner Ducks only flies in case of an emergency. These ducks simply leave the waters and fly vertically. The Indian Runner Duck does not take long to ascend when it leaves the water. The wings can create a huge force that combines with the paddling of the feet to generate this strong propulsion. Although these ducks are considered migratory by nature, domesticated birds do not really use their wings to fly long distances. These powerful wings are their coping mechanisms when facing any danger.

There are several other physiological adaptations that are common to all species of ducks. To begin with, webbed feet help ducks paddle quickly in the water, although the ground march is quite uncomfortable. In the Indian Runner Ducks, the unique location of the feet towards the tail helps them move better on land.

The Indian Runner Ducks also have a flattened bill that helps them venture well. The waste is filtered when the duck reaches the food and swallows it. The gizzard of the Indian Runner Duck is also very strong, which allows it to digest all the foods it eats easily. Even if the duck swallows small pebbles by mistake, the stomach can grind it and use it as fodder in the digestion process. Therefore, the Indian Runner Duck has survived over the years.