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Animals

Baby Ducks Eat Discarded Cigarette Butts At Nature Reserve

June 14th, 2019

Kym Welsh decided to visit the Anton Lakes Nature Reserve in Andover, United Kingdom to take wildlife pictures that morning. She had heard that some ducklings have hatched and she wanted to capture them in nature. Having been a nature photographer for just a year, she was excited to take photos of these young mammals in their natural state.

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Kym Welsh Source: Kym Welsh

But, when she arrived at the Nature Reserve, she was appalled at what she discovered.

The ducklings had just come back from being in the water with their mum. Naturally, they’d start foraging for food once on land. Kym decided to take photos of the ducklings looking for food when she captured an appalling moment. The ducklings found cigarette butts on the ground and were passing it from duckling to duckling using their beaks. Oh no!

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Kym Welsh Source: Kym Welsh

Ducks are omnivorous birds

They are constantly foraging for food and they will eat what they find. Out in the wild, they’ll eat small fish, worms, slugs, grass, leaves, algae, grains, small insects, seeds, berries, and fruits. They will also eat sand, pebble and gravel to provide the grit that they need for digestion.

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Kym Welsh Source: Kym Welsh

Ducks will eat almost anything they can get their beaks on.

That’s why when they find a cigarette butt on the ground, they will most likely pick it up, believing it was a leaf or gravel. And unlike gravel, cigarette butts are toxic and harmful to them. Used cigarette butts are very toxic and contain carcinogens, nicotine, and toxins found in all tobacco products.

Kym said, baby-du because little tiny things like ducklings and cygnets will eat anything.”

News Scientist performed a very important experiment about the dangers of this toxic trash.

They soaked one cigarette butt in one liter of water for 96 hours. Do you know what they found out? That cigarette butt leached out enough toxins to kill half of the fresh or saltwater fish exposed to them. And if the ducklings carried the cigarette butts into the water, it will destroy half of the sea life in that lake. And if they ate it, goodbye, ducklings!

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Kym Welsh Source: Kym Welsh

Will the ducks eat the cigarette butt?

Kym exhaled a sigh of relief when the ducklings let go of the cigarette butt and did not eat it. They instead followed their mother back to the lake. Who knows what could have happened to the ducklings if they had eaten the cigarette butt?

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Kym Welsh Source: Kym Welsh

Kym took the photographs to raise awareness and encourage smokers to be more responsible for their litter.

The Test Valley Borough Council is doing their best to preserve the Anton Lakes Local Nature Reserve, the nature around it, and the animals that live in the area.

Kym said, “I just think it’s absolutely atrocious. There are bins dotted all the way around the lake so there is no need to litter. People that go to these places need to remember that it is a nature reserve and you can’t just throw your trash down because little tiny things like ducklings and cygnets will eat anything.”

This isn’t the first time that Kym came across animals feeding on litter.

She was in Cornwall when she spotted a seagull trying to swallow a folded piece of foil butter wrapper. She said these things will continue to happen even when she’s not there if people stop being responsible about where they throw their litter.

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Kym Welsh On Unsplash Source: Kym Welsh On Unsplash

She’s hoping these photographs will make people more aware of the impact they make when they litter.

Do you know other people who could use this awareness?

Please SHARE this with your friends and family.

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