RAIN is often referred to as “nice weather for ducks” but that has not been the case this year.
Staff at RSPCA East Winch Wildlife Centre in Norfolk are currently caring for a staggering 284 ducklings, with many being brought in as a result of the recent bad weather - or attacks by other animals.
The ducklings have come in from locations across the area but the largest number to arrive in one go were 15 from Stamford, after their mother was killed by a dog.
If left unprotected in water, ducklings can catch hypothermia and die as they have not yet developed their waterproof coat.
Ducklings gain their waterproofing through contact with their mother’s plumage, so without her they run the risk of becoming wet and waterlogged when they first attempt to swim.
Administrator at East Winch Wildlife Centre Sue Levings said: “We really are inundated with ducklings at the moment, and I do feel the high numbers could be as a result of the unusual wet weather we have been experiencing in recent weeks.
“We have got our duckling routine down to a tee; they go through a series of care phases as they develop and grow. Initially they go into a box on newspaper and a towel with a heat lamp, a very small bowl of water for them to drink but not swim in and access to food at all times.
“As they progress they move to an outside area with a shallow pool and access to grass.
“A duckling will usually stay at the centre for about two-and-a-half months but it is all worthwhile knowing we have managed to save them and help return them back to the wild where they belong.”
The RSPCA advises anyone who does find ducklings to monitor from a distance first for a minimum of two hours to ensure mum isn’t still around.
If you are sure the duckling has been orphaned or abandoned, place it in a cardboard box with newspaper and a hot water bottle wrapped in a towel to keep it warm and take it to the nearest wildlife rehabilitation centre, or call the RSPCA.
Never put ducklings onto water without their mother. For more information visit www.rspca.org.uk