Are Ducks Mammals Or Reptiles? (Neither)

I’ve heard people say that ducks are reptiles and others say that they’re mammals. Who is right? Well, Neither.

Ducks are birds, so they can be classified neither as mammals nor reptiles. More specifically they are waterfowl. Waterfowl are birds that spend most of their life on or near water.

Here you can find the most prominent differences between the categories.

What Are The Differences Between Birds And Mammals?

Image by Alexa from Pixabay

Birds are warm-blooded, covered with feathers, lay eggs that hatch and have wings. Mammals are warm-blooded, covered in fur or hair (except for whales and dolphins), give birth to live young and have mammary glands to nourish their young.

Birds Differ From Mammals In That Birds Have Feathers, While Mammals Have Hair Or Fur.

First, because they evolved from two different groups of animals, which then led to them developing two completely different types of covering.

Feathers are made of keratin, the same substance that makes up our fingernails. As opposed to fur, feathers don’t get much longer than their growth spurts, which means a bird’s feathers stay the same length for its entire life. The main purpose of feathers is evolutionary speaking, to help them fly.

Another Big Difference Is The Fact That Birds Lay Eggs, But Mammals Do Not.

A bird’s egg is encased in a hard shell to protect the developing embryo. This is also a protective measure so that if the mother bird is killed during incubation, the egg can survive without her. In contrast to this, mammals give birth to live young; a characteristic that has evolved over time for mammalian young to be more able to protect themselves and be better equipped for survival.

Mammals Have Mammary Glands, Birds Don’t.

Mammary glands are specialized organs that allow mammals to give their young milk for nourishment. Birds, however, do not produce milk for their young. Instead, birds have a crop, a special sac for storing food.

When the female bird’s offspring is ready to leave the nest and begin to hunt for its own food, the mother bird will give it a ‘meal’ made from chewed up food in there crop. In some cases, the young bird will continue to return to its mother’s nest to be fed regurgitated food. This is referred to as a brood patch.

Mammals and birds do share similar traits, however: They have four limbs (wings or legs), a head, torso and tail. Birds have a beak instead of teeth, feathers instead of hair, wings instead of arms and legs.

See Also: Do Ducks Produce Milk?

Differences Between Birds And Reptiles

Image by Caribe_Costa_Rica from Pixabay

One Of The Main Differences Is That Reptiles Have Scales, Whereas Birds Have Feathers.

Scales are more similar to plates of armor, with the purpose of protection from predators. This is why a reptile’s skin is scaly; to protect it from the elements. In contrast, feathers are used by birds for flying and insulation. Birds also have hollow bones, which allows them to fly, while reptiles have solid bones.

Despite Being From Different Groups Both Birds And Reptiles Lay Eggs.

This could be the reason why some people get easily confused.

Anyway, the process is quite different for a bird and a reptile, Reptiles that lay eggs carry their young for longer than ducks do. They deposit their eggs when the embryo is nearly one-third grown, and they hatch shortly thereafter. A duck’s egg takes around 28 days to develop and hatch after it is laid.

Birds Are Warm Blooded While Reptiles Are Cold Blooded.

Image by M W from Pixabay

This is a big difference between birds and reptiles. Birds maintain a constant body temperature, which is necessary for life. In contrast, reptiles are cold-blooded and rely on their surroundings for constant body temperature.

Also, Birds have four toes (one facing backward and three facing forward) while reptiles have five toes with two facing backward and three facing forward or two facing toward each other at 180 degrees opposed to one another.

See Also: Why Do Ducks Have Webbed Feet?

In Summary

As we saw even if the different classes have few characteristics in common, that’s where the confusion likely stems from, they are fundamentally different from one another.

The correct classification is that ducks are birds, waterfowl to be exact.