Do Ducks Have TEETH? – Not Exactly

Close up of a duck face

Duck owners might know a lot about their ducks, but one thing that people might wonder about is: do ducks have teeth. Ducks are really great to keep as backyard pets or for eggs. However, a lot of us don’t know about certain things like how they eat or if they have teeth. Let’s dive in and find out more about this.

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Do Ducks Have Teeth?

Let’s answer the question – do ducks have teeth? The answer is NO! They don’t have teeth. In fact, no birds have teeth. The mouths of birds are distinctive from those of other animals. All birds use their beaks or bills to catch, hold, and manipulate food. There is a wide variety of beak types, each one tailored to the food of a particular bird species. This makes it so that they don’t need teeth in order to eat.  Read More: How Long Do Ducks Live? When it comes to knowing everything there is to know about ducks, you really should know how long their lifespan is as well.

How Do Ducks Eat?

duck in water
If you’re a duck owner you still might not know the ins and outs of how a duck eats. It’s important to know these details so that you know exactly what you’re dealing with and what is safe to feed your duck.
Like all animals, ducks spend their time eating and drinking water for them to survive on a daily basis. Lamellae are the main thing that they use to eat food. The lamellae line the duck’s bill and this is what is sometimes mistaken for teeth in ducks. They are small comb-like projections that line all the way around their bill.  Though lamellae are most commonly associated with waterfowl, other filter-feeding birds like flamingos also have them. Lamellae may superficially resemble teeth, but ducks don’t eat with them. Although a duck’s nibbling motions may look like chewing, they are merely a means for the bird to rearrange its meal before swallowing it whole. In addition to the lamellae, duck bills have a few other unique characteristics. Many ducks rely heavily on touch when foraging, so their breaks are delicate and sensitive. A duck’s top jaw has a small, hard protrusion called a nail that the bird can use to sift through the muck in search of food. In addition to lamellae, some ducks and geese also have spiky projections from the sides of their tongues called papillae. These are useful for filter feeding as well. Read More: How to Keep Duck Bedding Dry. Dry bedding can prevent smells and disease. Here’s how to keep your duck’s bedding clean!

Ducks Can’t Chew

duck with mouth open
Ducks technically don’t chew their food, but the protrusions on their bills do help with breaking down and moving around the food inside their mouth to better swallow and digest it.
Even though ducks’ various beak shapes aid in digestion, these birds do not chew their food. Instead, ducks arrange food inside their bills with little nibbling or chewing actions before swallowing it completely. The saliva produced by a duck’s salivary glands not only aids in digestion but also the swallowing process. Understanding the anatomy of a duck’s bill and how it works for feeding them and knowing what foods they can eat with the most ease can help you to better care for your ducks. Read More: Why is My Duck Losing its Feathers? Losing feathers is normal for ducks, but here’s when it’s not.

Types of Duck Bills

duck in grass
Duckbills are an important part of the duck and how they eat, hunt, and groom themselves. There are different bills based on the breed of bird.
Ducks lack the necessary teeth for tearing and grinding food in the same way that other creatures like wolves and humans do. However, ducks do  have a variety of adaptations that aid in food manipulation and swallowing:


Ducks’ beaks are long and narrow. Ducks have bills that are shaped like spatulas, which they use to crush food like that of teeth, however without the same strength for crushing tough meals, and without requiring them to constantly chew. Ducks use their beaks to scoop out food from the bottom of bodies of water, sand, and dirt. Bills with greater sharpness, like those of mergansers, are adapted to consume larger quantities of fish. Read our related article, Do Ducks Like Fish? Is it good for them? We discuss duck diet in this guide!


A duck’s bill has features called lamellae, which look like tiny combs or fringes. You can find these serrated teeth’ just inside the bill’s edge. The pointy part of the bill is called the nail, and ducks use this part for foraging often. Ducks use the nail to dig through muck and debris in search of food, such as worms, seeds, and other buried treats. Here’s a video that shows more about if ducks have teeth:

Read More: Can Geese Eat Chocolate? What do they eat? Here’s what you can and can’t feed geese (and other birds)!


While ducks don’t have teeth in the traditional sense, they do have bony ridges in their mouths that help them to tear apart their food. These ridges are especially prominent in ducklings, who use them to grind down their hard-shelled food. As ducks mature, these ridges become less pronounced, but they’re still there – just hidden behind the soft tissue of the duck’s bill.