The Muscovy Duck had probably been domesticated for centuries by South American Indigenous cultures at the time of its introduction to European colonialists.
The Domestic Muscovy duck is descended from the wild Muscovy Duck. While the majority of its ancestors were also wild Muscovy Ducks, the males of two other wild species also contributed their genepool.
The South American Comb Duck drake was crossed with the first semi-domestic founders.
Muscovy Ducks as pets are very popular because raising them is inexpensive and less time consuming.
Muscovy ducks don't generally like to be over handled by humans (unless they were raised by them); however, they can grow very confiding.
Muscovies are less prone to illnesses as compared to other ducks.
As Muscovy Ducks lay large clutches and can be encouraged to produce up to three clutches of offspring a year, the selective breeding regimes of the South American Indian cultures were successful in producing dramatically larger domestic muscovy with unusual coloration making individuals recognizable. This is critical in the development of domestic breeds.
Once the domestic Muscovy Duck reached the Philippines and Indonesia it readily became the most important poultry for many European settlements for the qualities of the meat and tolerance of heat and wet.
At some point, Europeans and/or their Asian neighbors either inadvertently or purposely hybridized the now critically endangered White Winged Wood Duck to their domestic Muscovy Ducks. The White Winged Wood Duck is much closer related to the Muscovy Duck than the Comb Duck. Fertile male offspring were bred back into the domestic Muscovy Duck gene pool in high enough numbers to introduce a number of new traits into the populations of founders that reached African and European Shores.
Species Research by Sibylle Johnson
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