The Dublin Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (DSPCA) is calling on the public not to buy ducklings, following reports that the young birds were being offered for sale on the city streets.
Gillian Bird, the head of education and media at the DSPCA, told RTÉ radio’s Morning Ireland that there seemed to be a trend on social media where people were videoing a day in the life of a duckling.
“We started getting reports yesterday of people saying that they had been offered ducklings for sale on the streets, we know that some people had actually gone out to buy ducklings,” she said.
The birds on offer seem to be a mixture of farmyard ducklings and wild ducklings. Ms Bird explained that farmyard ducklings are “the lovely little yellow ones” and brown ducklings might be from different breeds of ducks, that have come from the wild ducks that live on the canals and ponds.
“So we suspect that what is happening is that it has caught on now — people know that others are going to buy ducklings — they go down to the canal, scoop up a few ducklings and they seem to be selling them for about €5 each.”
The DSPCA has had reports of young teenagers approaching other teenagers offering them a duckling for €5, Ms Bird added.
“We had one lady who actually bought ten of them off some kids who were selling them. It's one of those situations where we're very worried — where have they come from? Who's going to look after them? Are they going to be looked after properly? A family home, living in your bathtub is not a good home for a duckling.”
Ms Bird explained that it takes up to four weeks for a duckling’s feathers to become fully waterproof.
They also have a lifespan of between seven and 15 years — so what are people going to be doing with them long term?
“So you end up with a situation where they get very cold if they're not kept in the correct environment like under a heat lamp or a heat pad. They've got to be kept warm, they've got to be fed properly. They also have a lifespan of between seven and 15 years — so what are people going to be doing with them long term?”
There were already videos on social media of people saying they were now tired of their duckling and were going to release them back into the canal, she added.
“These ducklings are very young, they should be with their parents, they should be looked after properly and they're just going to get picked off by predators and are going to die.”