Meet the Arthurs

Khaki Campbell Ducks on slug patrol

Khaki Campbell Ducks on slug patrol

We didn’t have a slug problem, we had a deficiency of ducks! After a lot of research we decided to get Khaki Campbell ducks. These ducks love to eat slugs. Our good friend Chris Dixon who has kept them for over 20 years describes them as “slug devourers par excellence”!

khaki-campbell-ducks One minute

One minute everyone is happy drinking water and preening ...

After trying various methods to stop the slugs from eating our veggies and very young trees (including the old favourites – egg shells and sunken jars of beer in strategic places) all to no avail. It was decided we couldn’t wait for the eco-system to naturally work itself out. We have plenty of habitats that hedgehogs would absolutely love, they just don’t seems to know about them yet. We HAD to get something in to eat the little slimmers now. Ducks!

We bought four young female ducks, one young male and three very cute two week old females from a separate breeder back in July (the peak of slug activity).

khaki-campbell-ducks the next

.. the next, someone has decided the water bowl is a bath!

Wow do these ducks love to eat slugs! Afraid that they might also eat my young vegetables, for the first weeks while they got used to their new home, I gathered slugs and put them in one of the water bowls for the ducks to devour – my what a racket! Larger slugs for the older ducks, smaller for the younger. I gave a three short whistles each time I approached with food and in no time the younger ducks were eating out my hands (a bit disgusting – slug slim yuck! – but brilliant too). The older ducks were at that time being all timid and afraid, only approaching the water bowl when I was out of sight.

A few months on, all the ducks are walking around the land in one big slug patrol gang. They take their job seriously! They forage for slugs all the time that they are not sleeping or playing in the water. The Sillies (the three younger ducks) still come to my whistled call and eat freshly found slugs from my hands 🙂 The older ducks, envious of the younger ducks getting all my slugs now race towards me too.

Originally we were going to give all the ducks names. Arthur (the only male) was the first and easiest to name. We only had to think of one boys name, and he is very easy to identify. The seven other females, well we couldn’t think of enough names (let alone find differing features to identify them with), so they all ended up being called Arthur.

Leopard slug, Limax maximus

Giant Leopard slug (Limax maximus)