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Muscovy Ducks

Cairina moschata

Regulatory Status

Muscovy ducks are not native to Florida and are regulated as Class III wildlife, meaning a permit is required to possess them for exhibition or sale. A permit is not required to possess them as personal pets. Muscovy ducks are also protected under the federal Migratory Bird Treaty Act, but the United States Fish and Wildlife service has issued a control order for the species.


Muscovy ducks are large ducks, averaging 4.3 kilograms (9 lbs.) with a typical wingspan between 137- 154 centimeters (54- 61 in). Males are generally larger than females. Muscovy ducks have red, fleshy protuberances on the face while their plumage is brownish-black with iridescent green and purple and white wing patches.

Muscovy ducks are social. They have a social hierarchy in which males protect territories that they establish by dominating other males with visual displays. Dominant males maintain territories and mate with females that nest in those territories while other males that live within the territory act as bachelors. This species is non-migratory and active during the day.


Muscovy ducks are omnivorous, feeding on roots, stems, leaves, and seeds of aquatic and terrestrial plants, as well as, small fish, reptiles, crustaceans, insects, millipedes, and termites.

Native Range

They are native to Mexico, Central, South America, and some parts of Texas.

Florida Distribution

Muscovy ducks have populations all over the state with the largest being in Jacksonville, Miami, Fort Lauderdale, West Palm Beach, Fort Meyers, Tampa, and Orlando. See where the species has been reported in Florida.

Potential Impacts

Muscovy ducks can create problems through competition with native species, damage to property, and transmission of disease. In 2010 the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service revised its regulations concerning Muscovy ducks.

Frequently Asked Questions

Does the FWC remove Muscovy ducks?

The FWC does not remove nuisance Muscovy ducks.  Removal of ducks can be done by the landowner or by a hired nuisance wildlife trapper with landowner permission.

Do I need a permit to possess Muscovy ducks?

No permit is required to possess Muscovy ducks.  However, both Section 379.231, Florida Statutes, and federal regulations 50 CFR 21.25(b)(8)(i) prohibit the release of Muscovy ducks.

Do I need a permit to remove Muscovy ducks from my property?

No, a permit is not needed to remove Muscovy ducks using humane methods of live capture, typically using nets or cage traps. All traps must be checked at least once every 24 hours and any captured non-target species must be released on site. Muscovy ducks may also be taken by use of a firearm on private property during daylight hours with landowner permission. Must use non-toxic shot or bullets. Please check with the local sheriff’s office or police department for firearm ordinances before discharging a firearm. All euthanized birds must be disposed of by burial or incineration (USFWS 50 CFR 21.54).

How do I catch Muscovy ducks?

If the birds are accustomed to being fed, you can often bait them in and get close enough to capture them by using a net.  Funnel traps made of welded wire and baited with corn can also be used.  Some trappers will remove Muscovy ducks for a fee.  A list of nuisance wildlife trappers (searchable by county) can be found at the bottom of this page.  Remember, it is a violation of Federal regulations to release captured birds.

Why is it illegal to release Muscovy ducks?

Muscovy ducks can transmit diseases to or interbreed with Florida's native waterfowl. Furthermore, Muscovy duck populations can increase quickly, which can lead to conflicts between neighbors, excessive nutrient loading in small ponds, and messy sidewalks and driveways. Please see the Federal Control Order for more information on the prohibition of releasing or relocating Muscovy ducks.