Do Ducks Eat Tadpoles? (what else from the pond will they eat?)

I have been keeping and breeding ducks for well over 20 years, and over that time I have grown to admire a duck’s ability to forage for its own food.

Whilst ducks still need us keepers to provide them with a balanced diet, they are incredibly resourceful and will eat a wide range of different foods.

In this article, I look at 11 potential foods a duck might find living in and around their pond and consider whether or not your ducks are likely to eat them.

Do Ducks Eat Tadpoles?

Ducks do eat tadpoles, especially if the tadpoles get caught in a shallow part of the pond with no easy escape route.

Ducks will eat as many tadpoles as they can. They seem to have an endless appetite for tadpoles. I have seen my ducks eat tadpoles both in the early stage of the tadpoles’ development and even once the tadpoles become much larger and begin to develop legs.

If you want to prevent ducks from eating your tadpoles, the only realistic option is to cover the entire pond with netting to prevent the ducks from entering the water and eating the tadpoles.

Alternatively, you could remove the tadpoles from the pond and raise them to frogs before releasing them back into the pond, although this is a large time commitment and does take considerable effort.

Do Ducks Eat Frog spawn?

Much like tadpoles, ducks will eat frog spawn, although in my experience I think it is something they only eat if they are hungry enough.

On many occasions, I have watched my ducks swim right past a large clump of frogspawn.

With that said, ducks will eat pretty much anything, and there is no doubt that in the right situation ducks are considered predators. If you have frog spawn that you want to protect, you will need to either find a way to keep the ducks from eating the frog spawn (perhaps using a wire mesh cage) or remove the frog spawn and raise the tadpoles away from the pond.

Do Ducks Eat Frogs and Toads?

Yes, ducks do eat both frogs and toads if they can catch them. Frogs and toads can swim pretty deep down into a pond, and although ducks can dive too, it does seem that when in the water the frogs are fairly safe.

If however ducks discover frogs or toads on land, in my experience the ducks will chase down the frog and eat it.

I have also watched two ducks fight over a single frog, pulling it apart in their beaks, each eating a bit of it.

Do Ducks Eat Fish?

Yes, ducks will eat fish, providing they are small enough and the ducks can catch them.

Obviously for a duck to eat a fish the fish needs to be small and a fairly slow swimmer. Ducks will happily eat minnows, shinners, and Mosquito Fish as well as baby goldfish, and baby koi.

Naturally, the fish have the advantage over the ducks, and in a large, deep pond there is little danger of the fish being eaten, however, in small, shallow ponds, the fish can be an easy target for the ducks.

Ducks do not have teeth, and as such, they will catch a fish and then rotate it around so they can swallow it head first.

Do Ducks Eat Newts?

In the same way that ducks will eat frogs and frog spawn, they will also happily eat newts and newt spawn.

I have witnessed my ducks chasing down newts on several occasions, and although the newts will typically swim down deeper than the ducks do, in the shallows the newts struggle to get away from the ducks.

Do Ducks Eat Algae?

Yes, ducks do eat algae. In fact, ducks will pick at and eat almost any type of algae they find in their pond.

Ducks will happily eat algae that form on rocks, pieces of wood, and the banks of their pond. They will eat brown algae, green algae, and black beard algae.

The only algae ducks will not eat is blue-green algae (although this is technically Cyanobacteria, a form of bacteria rather than algae).

Do Ducks Eat Duckweed?

Duckweed gets its name from the way it is spread from watercourse to watercourse, which is on the feet and underside of ducks.

Duckweed clings to whatever it touches, and a duck swimming across a pond makes the perfect transportation system to help this tiny plant spread.

Ducks will eat duckweed. They will consume duckweed in fairly large quantities. However, due to the rapid way in which duckweed reproduces itself, the ducks rarely manage to make a dent in the duckweed population.

Do Ducks Eat Blanket Weed?

I have never seen any of my ducks eating blanket weed. I haven’t actually read any studies that suggest ducks will actively eat blanket weed.

As such, until I hear credible evidence to the contrary, I am going to say ducks do not eat blanket weed.

Do Ducks Eat Dragonflies?

Yes, ducks do eat dragonflies. They will eat almost any flying insect that comes close enough for them to catch.

Dragonflies are typically fairly warey of going near ducks, and as such ducks do not get to eat them on a regular basis. I have however witnessed my own ducks either creeping up on a dragonfly before grabbing it, or the dragonfly being unaware of a duck’s presence before landing near the duck and the duck snapping it up quickly.

Ducks will happily consume any dragonflies that come within reach of their beaks.

Do Ducks Eat Earthworms?

Earthworms are a firm favorite of ducks, and although the ducks do not actively dig for worms like a chicken might, they will quickly consume any earthworms they come across, both on land and in the pond.

Ducks will also eat bloodworms, mealworms, tiger worms, and I suspect any other type of terrestrial or aquatic worm they come across.

Do Ducks Eat Slugs & Snails?

Yes, ducks will eat both slugs and snails. For many years ducks have been recommended as the ideal organic control for both slugs and snails.

Duck relish eating these slimy critters. On my own homestead, I will allow my ducks to free-range across the vegetable patches once we have eaten all the produce.

Unfortunately, ducks are just as good at eating our lettuce, cabbages, and kale if they get the chance.

Bearing in mind that ducks will readily eat both slugs and snails, it is important you do not allow your ducks into any area where slug and snail pellets may have been used as the ducks will happily eat the slugs and snails not realizing they have consumed the poison pellets. This can make your ducks very ill and possibly prove fatal.

In Conclusion

I think it is fair to say, ducks are not fussy eaters. Ducks are both greedy and opportunistic feeders that will eat pretty much anything they can catch.

Ducks are omnivores, and as such, they will happily consume vegetable matter and live prey if they have the chance.

In fact, in my experience, ducks will eat pretty much anything they can swallow in one go. That can be fruit and vegetables they find as well as small frogs, fish, and flying insects.

If you found this article helpful, why not check out one I wrote recently titled ‘Why are my ducks scared of me?’.

Aaron Homewood

Aaron Homewood is‘s poultry editor. Arron has spent over 20 years keeping, breeding, and showing different poultry breeds, including chickens, ducks, geese, and quail.​
Poultry Editor