Make Way For Ducklings!

Wasn’t this such a fun book in elementary school?

Let me preface my story by explaining that my family’s home, the home in which I grew up, has recently been considered by some to be a zoo. I’m sure the craziness of my family only adds to the metaphor, but the main reason is the number and type of pets we currently have.

There’s Elvis (he’s quite the showman and hates to get his picture taken; he must think he’s really The King):

        

There’s She’n’i (pronounced with a long E and a long I. My dad was obsessed with the song “She and I” by Alabama when we got her. It was 1994,but the song is older than that, in case that’s not obvious enough from the video):

Clearly there’s nothing too unusual about a cat and a dog. Now it gets more fun.

Meet Chuck.

Chuck is a sulcata tortoise, and he weighs about 25 lbs. This is a picture of him enjoying the nice weather we had last week and the chance to finally be outside. He’s one of the reasons we’re often told we live at a zoo. There is also a pond in the backyard, and a snapping turtle in a fish tank in the house – my dad loves turtles and I am in fear of the day he finally decides to set the snapper free in the river; a finger may go missing.

But now on to the newest additions to the family/zoo! Today, after about 7-10 days in their mommy’s nest, then 18-21 days in an incubator bought just for them…three ducklings were born!

The third one was born awhile after these two, even though its shell was probably the first to be cracked. It wasn’t moving for a long time and so we thought it would be best to help it along and carefully broke some of the shell away with a small tweezer. Even after that, it still wasn’t doing much to get out, so we pulled a little more away and finally the third duckling slid out of its shell!

There is a story to explain how these ducks came to be at my parents’ house. My parents have a pool in the backyard and for years, we’ve had a male and female Mallard duck come and swim in the pool or its winter cover in the early spring (I have no idea if it was the same couple every year). This year, the female laid a nest in one of the gardens near the pool and there were 11 eggs. She sat on the nest for a little over a week until one night when something got to the nest, and maybe even her, and took six of the eggs. My dad was torn over trying to hatch the eggs ourselves or just letting them go (it’s from him that I get my love of animals), but my sister and I convinced him we had to try. So we found an incubator at Tractor Supply Company (my first visit – neat place!) and brought it home for the remaining 5 eggs. We “candled” them to make sure they were fertile, and thankfully, they all were.

They sat in the incubator for about three weeks until Thursday night when my dad called to tell us that he heard chirping inside the eggs! I had the worst feeling that these ducks would be hatching the next day when I was at school and everyone else in my family had off, but the duckies held out! Friday afternoon when I went home to my parents’, I noticed a crack in one of the shells and as I watched, a few of the eggs would rock slightly and the ducklings would chirp. It was the neatest thing to see!

This morning, I went back over as soon as I could and sat there almost the entire day watching the eggs and watching as the ducklings got closer and closer to hatching. I noticed that if I made a quacking sound, or a cheeping sound like they did, they were more active, so I did this as much as I could and finally, after almost three hours, two of the ducklings hatched within 10 minutes of each other. It was such an amazing process to watch, and so unbelievably exciting each time the shell would move and more and more of the duck would show. My sister recorded the first duckling hatching on her phone, so as soon as I get the video from her, I will (hopefully) post it for all to enjoy!

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