swan aggressive to mate

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    Danee Stengel

    Hi, We have a pair of swans we got when they were about 1 year old. They are about 4 years now. A couple of weeks ago, the male started chasing to where she wouldn’t go in the water and was hiding on land at the other end of the lake in front of our neighbors house. We separated her to our side yard for a couple of days to see if it would stop, given she was sitting in their front yard that isn’t fenced which could be hazardous for her. She did fine and we decided to try her back in the lake again, and we put the male in the side yard for the day to let her have some space. We released him the following day and she started a role reversal and started chasing him. He is currently hiding in between a bush and a chain link fence. He comes out occasionally for food and water but not often. This has now been going on for a week. She fidnd him and starts pecking at him and grabbing his neck with her beak. He runs into the bush to hide as she continues to chase and peck at him. He has now lost his metal band that identifies him somehow in all of this, and it looks like his ankle where the band was is slightly cut, and his beak is covered in bloody marks from her.
    We have not had this issue at all in the past. They never seemed super close, and haven’t mated yet. We thought it started as maybe a mating thing, but this seems concerning, and he wont venture back to the lake at all. Do you have any ideas what this might be?
    I took a short video if that helps and there is a way to upload it

    #214457 Reply
    Swan Expert

    If these swans have never mated in 4 years, it would seem that you have two males instead of a mating pair. Some breeders sell swans based upon cloacal checking instead of the more reliable DNA Sequencing. Cloacal checking is not reliable, especially at a young age because the genitalia are not as developed until later, so what you think you have may not be a reality which will show up during mating season. First, you need to have the gender verified for both swans through DNA Sequencing which can be conducted by a veterinarian.

    Once verified, you have several options. If both males and aggressive behavior does not settle after a couple of weeks due to hormones, then you need to keep them separated on the pond ( must allow water and food access to both at same time only separated so that one does not become king of the pond– you can also remove both from the pond at the same time and move indoors- separated but within sight range) Indoor separation will require safe enclosure from any predators climbing in or digging under, clean food daily and using straw so no abrasive substrate (flooring). After couple of days, reintroduce both swans to pond, monitor closely and see if aggression continues.

    1. If aggression continues, you need to find a good safe home for one of the swans and allow the remaining swan to live its life alone- males will do fine on their own.

    2. Trade out both swans for a pair of mating swans- would recomnend not going back to sane breeder if they gave you wrong gender at the time of sale of these swans because you can possibly have a recurrence of wrong i.d. If there is a possibility of trading one or both swans, would recommend you contact Bob Knox- 847-875-3947.

    3. If you are looking for breeding pair of Mute Swans, you may need to check on your state laws. Many states are killing Mute Swans and will not allow you to have any Mute Swans, much less a breeding pair. Should you have a breeding pair, you may need a license for possession and a breeding license since you will need to find a good safe home for all cygnets once the next mating season occurs as the parents will chase them from the pond. All cygnets must be pinioned (rendered unable to fly at 1-2 weeks of age by a reputable avian veterinarian).

    Mute Swans can produce 1-12 cygnets annually, which means you will have the pinioning and rehoming issue every year. It is for this reason, that we strongly urge you find out the gender of your swans, rehome one if the aggression does not work out or trade out both swans for 2 females( non-breeding). Female swans will get along with other females, especially if they are raised together at young age, unlike males which usually not accept another male unless they are siblings, and even then may not get along.

    Swans will mate with each other regardless of gender if the same genders are raised together. Males (if they do get along, will mate, construct a nest but obviously produce no eggs). Females will mate with each other, build a nest and produce eggs- but obviously will not produce young.

    We think you have two males and each are trying to establish dominance during a heightened hormonal mating season. This may resolve itself once hormone levels go back to normal- several days to a week.

    Unscrupulous breeders sell swans without notifying potential buyers of state laws and requirements of raising and breeding swans, or will sell same gender swans without doing diligent sequencing or knowingly passing off same gendered swans or sick swans so they can make a sale. Always do your homework and do background checks on breeders, ask for veterinarian or other certified health/gender documentation and inquire about warranty on bill of sales if something goes wrong. We hope this information is of benefit. The Regal Swan

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