ANIMAL CHARITIES across Ireland are pleading with teenagers and their parents not to buy ducklings after a social media craze led to dozens of the creatures getting hurt or dying.
Ducklings are being sold for as little as €5 on buy-and-sell websites, no Facebook, Snapchat and even on the streets, according to reports emerging across Ireland.
Animal charity Clonalkin Animal Aid yesterday posted a statement warning parents not to buy ducks for their children after they became aware of "a new apparent trend amongst teenagers of getting a pet duckling".
"Please please please do not allow your teenager to get a pet duck," they wrote. "They do not do well without other ducks and many people don't understand their needs.
"The poor ducklings are being taken from their poor mothers too early and will not do well.
"The cruelty we've seen already is just awful," they added. "Can't believe I'm even writing this."
Throughout the day, CAA posted updates on the situation, stating they were inundated with messages from people looking to surrender their pet ducklings, and while they thanked them for doing the right thing, they were now struggling with huge amount of ducklings in the already busy rescue site.
"There’s no words for the madness of today," they wrote.
"It was absolutely crazy. So so many sweet innocent little ducks treated like toys."
Farmers and others who responsibly own poultry have also offered to adopt some of the ducklings to take the pressures off the charity.
Other charities, including the Dublin SPCA, also reported being inundated with calls from parents whose children had bought ducklings and were unable to care for them.
The DSPCA said they were "astonished ... at the reckless behaviour that went on in the last day or so, involving young vulnerable ducklings."
"Many calls that we took the duckling had sadly already died. Please if your children have bought ducklings call us and we will take them into our care. Please also tell your children NOT to buy any ducklings."
"Ducklings can not survive in cold water without the oils from their mothers feathers and can die from hypothermia. They cannot learn to feed and can die from the wrong diet."
In many cases the ducklings were not intentionally treated cruelly, but were hurt or killed simply by not being in the correct environment: taken from their mother too soon, without siblings and being kept indoors.
However one heartbreaking image showed a new duckling with two broken legs; the mother of a teenage boy said he had bought it from two other teenagers after seeing it was injured, and brought it home to seek help.
Another video making the rounds on social media shows two teenage boys cycling down the street while holding a duckling each in their hand.