Mandarin Duck  


English Name

Mandarin Duck

Spanish Name

Pato Mandarín

Latin Name

Aix galericulata







In full plumage, the male has a pair of "sail" feathers that are raised vertically above the back, a crest of orange and cream feathers, and a broad white eye-stripe that is bounded above and below by darker feathers.


The female is also distinctive with her grey head, pink bill and heavily spotted breast and flanks but you have to check that she’s not a female Wood Duck, another species which sometimes escapes from captivity. The key thing to look at is the shape of the white marking around each eye. In Mandarin Duck this extends backwards from the eye in a long, narrow tapering line, like the outline of white spectacle frames, but in Wood Duck it is shorter, broader and blunter.

The female is duller in colour and has an overall grey appearance marked by a curving white stripe behind the eye and a series of white blotches on the under parts. In flight, both sexes display a bluish-green iridescent speculum.






Size T à 8.7 mm.


They are easy to manage and suitable for mixed-species collections.

Pair bond may be renewed over several breeding seasons, but males are sometimes promiscuous while the female is incubating and may form a second temporary pair-bond at this time.

Temperament is variable, and depends on the amount of handling the duck receives.



They may be fed grain, pellets, duckweed or other green food and bread.

Foods such as chopped hard-boiled egg and duckweed are useful initially for ducklings in addition to rearing crumbs.

Their natural diet consists of : Varied diet. Acorns, other nuts, grain, aquatic plants (seeds, stems, and roots) seeds and fruits of other plants, insects, small fish, and snails.

Mandarins should be consuming Gro-Cal Pellets and Game bird Crumbles.  NEVER give any medicated grain food!  This will kill the beneficial bacteria in the duck's digestive system.  It will get prone to ailing, and will eventually die.  As a treat, I feed mine various berries, melons, and grapes.  I give them some lettuce as well.  They also eat wild bird seed.  I also purchase feeder gold fish at my local pet store.  I go home and after fifteen minutes, I release them in the duck pond.  The ducks go wild!  I enjoy watching them hunt!

Correct feeding entails dividing the year into two bits: the lean non-breeding period and the breeding period. During the lean non-breeding period (mainly in winter) the birds should be fed meagre rations of wheat, corn, sorghum and natural grassy forage.

During the breeding season, from early Spring, feed chicken grower crumbles and supplement the feeding with insects and natural forage.

Clean drinking water is essential.

It's also important that the ducks aren't too fat leading up to breeding season, as they will not breed if carrying too much weight. A simple diet of grower pellets (available from stock supplies and pet shops) is all they need prior to and during the breeding season.


Breeding Cages









Hole Diameter


Raised (e.g. 2-3 feet (60-90cm) high nest boxes are preferred (12x12x12inches (30x30x30cm) with a 4inch (10cm) entrance hole) and a ramp leading from the ground or water to the hole for flight-restricted birds. Although they may also use a tunnel nest box.

In order to breed, Mandarins are required to have a nest box.

Mandarin ducks demand very specific breeding sites preferring to nest near water and, ideally, with the nest box accessed from the water, ie: facing a pond or lake, and raised on a platform a metre or more above ground level, reached by a ramp.


Nesting Material


Breeding Period

These ducks are easy to breed. Laying usually begins from end of March or later, and may continue to June (UK).




Poor fertility in some strains is thought to be related to inbreeding. Many females sit reliably, some are nervous.

Ducklings may be reared by the female or by a foster duck or a broody hen or hand reared. they are easy to rear, although they  initially try to jump or climb out of rearing boxes, which must be covered, and require protection from rain and cold wind when young. Good results may be obtained by parent rearing in covered pens or aviaries.

Female incubates the eggs and tends to the babies.


28-30 days


40-45 days

Pens for ducklings must be covered, as they are good climbers.


The hen may lay a second clutch later in the summer.



Breeding Life


Sexual Maturity

One year old.

Fertility is higher in a two-year-old hen. 


A secure enclosure is essential to keep the Mandarin ducks in and keep out potential predators such as foxes, hawks, crows, and domestic cats and dogs. Pairs usually are allowed a 2m x 2m pen, preferably with a small pond. True enthusiasts will often landscape the enclosures with reeds, grasses and plants to create a natural setting.



Mandarins are winter-hardy, although they may require shelter in severe climates, and may be kept in various types of enclosure

Health Problems



The mandarin duck is the only specie of duck that cannot interbreed due to a different number of chromosomes.


Colour Mutations



The only mutation, thus far, is the White Mandarin. White Mandarin males are white.  They have the same markings as the Mandarin, and wherever there is a dark colour on the Mandarin, the White Mandarin haves a light chestnut/tan colour.  The beak is a bright red.  Females are all white.  Some may have a chestnut/tan stripe in a few of the flight feathers.