Can Ducks Change Gender? Let’s Find Out!

Recently you have been noticing some unusual behavior in your female duck. Maybe it is acting more like male ducks and not laying eggs. Or maybe it is growing a functioning testis!

Now you’re wondering can ducks change gender?

Yes, they can. However, it happens only in female ducks. They turn into male ducks. It also depends on their situation. Mainly an ovary failure causes it. Loss of the only functional ovary can lead to hormonal changes in female ducks. They eventually start to develop male sexual organs as in a testis.

If you are still confused, don’t worry! Because, In this article, we have included why and how female ducks change their gender. Plus, everything else you should know about it!

Keep reading to find out!

Why Do Ducks Change Gender?

Why Do Ducks Change Gender

A duck may change gender due to different reasons. It also depends on the condition of these ducks. 

Female ducks tend to have a high possibility of changing their gender. It happens when they are at a high risk of losing their single functional ovary. Gender change may also happen due to ovary issues that arise from some injuries or infections.

Hormonal imbalances are another factor that makes a female duck vulnerable to gender change. 

Generally, all ducks possess a default male gender when hatching. It means that female ducks can also generate a particular segment of male hormones. That hormone is testosterone.

Nevertheless, a female duck can keep its male hormone at bay when its ovary is functional. Female ducks with fragile or under-developed ovaries are not capable of countering testosterone successfully.

Hence, they retain excessive testosterone in them. This makes those female ducks susceptible to gender change.

How Do Ducks Change Gender?

How Do Ducks Change Gender

It is usually the female ducks that can change their gender to male. However, the process does not occur overnight. It is a lengthy process. And the changes happen very slowly at first for you to notice.

So, as a duck owner, you may think there is something wrong with your pet. Also, you may not understand how your duck just changed its gender. 

Here we have provided an explanation for you detailing how your duck can change its gender from female to male. Read carefully to get a clear idea about it.

Ovary Failure

Unlike many mammals, female ducks tend to have only one ovary. That means this sole ovary helps them lay eggs. If your female duck loses its ovary, it also indicates that it will not be able to release estrogen. 

Estrogen is the hormone in female ducks. It helps combat those existing male genes within them due to ovary failure. So, ovary failure will cause a substantial decrease in estrogen production in females and an increase in male genes. A big factor in causing female ducks to turn into males.

Male Plumage

Female ducks can develop male plumage as a result of hormonal changes. This change arrives with the ovary loss. 

Male plumage development does not happen instantly after a female duck loses its ovary. The growth may take place over the duration of months. Sometimes, it can take even a year.

Nonetheless, it mainly depends on which species the ducks are. Also, the condition of that female duck.

Growth of Male Sexual Organs

There is a prominent absence of estrogen in female ducks after they lose their ovaries. They are likely to start growing male sexual organs. For example, the vestigial ovary will masculinize and develop into a testis. The sperms that are in testis usually tend to be fertile.

There is also a high possibility for female ducks to begin shedding. Then they start to develop feathers. Feathers that actually look like those of the male ducks.

As their functional ovaries are lost, they can not lay eggs. They may be even eligible to generate sperm. It is due to the kickstart of the transformation of their undeveloped ovary.

It is basically caused by male genes. They help turn it into fully functioning testis.

How Long Does It Take for Ducks to Change Gender?

Ducks can’t change their gender overnight. In fact, the process of the alteration is relatively long. There is no definite time duration for this.

It may take months or even years to detect that your female duck is turning into the male. As ducks generally live between 2 to 12 years.

The hormonal change that occurs acts as the main factor behind the gender change. And this hormonal change is also a long-winded process.

However, some species of ducks, for example, mallards, may take less time in changing their gender. Nevertheless, it definitely takes at least 5 to 6 months of time to detect any apparent male traits in your female duck.

Which eventually leads to proper gender change with time. Again that is a procedure that can take about a year.


Can a male duck turn into a female?

No, they can’t. Unlike female ducks, male ducks don’t have ovaries. Hence, it is impossible for them to lose ovaries and encounter hormonal changes. And this hormonal change is one factor that leads to the gender change in female ducks. So, due to this, male ducks can’t turn into females.

Is gender change in ducks rare?

Yes, it is. For gender change to occur, ducks need to lose their ovaries. The hormonal changes need to happen properly. This is a long process. An ovary failure in ducks does not happen very often. Plus, the female ducks need to have the coping ability to encounter these changes happening in their bodies.

Can male ducks lay eggs?

No, they can’t. This task is solely carried out by the female ducks. The male ducks usually take off after mating. The female ducks use this period for incubation. But during this time, male ducks may stick around. They protect females by coaxing predators away. Thus saving them from any kind of attack.

Do only mallard ducks change their gender?

No, not only mallards ducks that change gender. Gender change may happen in every type of duck species. Female ducks in all species possess an ovary which means there’s a possibility of them changing gender. 


Hope we’ve cleared your queries of can ducks change gender? Now that you know they can, look for any unusual behavior in your pet duck. 

If it’s behaving like male ducks or not laying eggs. Or maybe you can find a developing testis. You’ll be able to tell whether your female duck is changing its gender.

Have a great day!

Ryan Dugan
Ryan Dugan
Ryan Dugan

Ryan Dugan is a dedicated pet care professional who offers top-notch services for a variety of pet species. He has a soft spot for my own feline companion, Sophie. He is passionate about animals He shares his knowledge and experience on his blog to help other pet owners understand and care for their own beloved companions. Whether you need a pet-sitting service or advice on pet care, He is the go-to expert.

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