Many waterfowl birds like ducks and swans like to eat fish, so does that mean that geese eat fish too? Geese are migratory waterfowl that live on and around bodies of water just like ducks and swans, so it is not a far-fetched idea to think that geese eat fish.
Do geese eat fish? Geese eat fish, but not all the time. Geese are herbivores that enjoy eating grass and plants more than fish or insects, but they will eat fish on occasion.
Some geese enjoy eating fish more than others and a lot of times their desire for fish depends on a variety of factors including food availability and individual preference.
Fish may not be the ideal treat for a goose, but it is a good source of protein and energy for them if they need it. Herbivores like geese prefer to eat plants and plant material but that does not mean you will never see them eat fish or other animals.
The more you learn about geese and their curious, albeit uncommon, desire to eat fish, the more you will understand why some geese do not fit completely into the herbivore box.
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Wild geese vs. Domestic geese: Fish or no fish?
Even though geese are considered to mainly be herbivores, eating mainly plant-based food, wild geese and domestic geese have been known to eat fish on occasion.
This has caused many people to classify geese as omnivores, but that is a little bit of a stretch. Geese will eat fish periodically in the wild, sometimes because they just want to and sometimes because they grab them accidentally while eating plant matter in the water. (source)
Wild geese will also turn to eating fish if they are running low on grass or plant-based foods to eat. Domestic geese will often begin to eat fish if they are easily accessible and if other geese or waterfowl teach them to eat fish.
Many backyard geese owners agree that while their geese are not interested in fish handed to them, they sometimes will enjoy grabbing tiny fish out of ponds.
This is especially true if they see ducks on your property grabbing up small fish and eating them. Pet geese may not have naturally eaten fish, but once they learn the behavior, they may begin to eat fish regularly.
Although it is not extremely common, if you see wild geese or your own domesticated geese eating fish out of a pond or lake, do not be alarmed.
What kind of fish do geese like to eat?
Geese that enjoy eating fish do not prefer eating certain kinds of fish over others, but naturally they are only going to be able to eat certain sizes of fish.
Geese can only eat small fish that they are able to grab with their small bills. This most often is minnows and young, tiny fish that come to the surface to feed on insects.
Larger fish and fish that rarely come to the surface will not end up as food for a goose. Geese are not concerned with bringing home a trophy fish, they are only interested in the fish they can grab easily and eat relatively quickly.
What other live animals do geese eat?
While geese prefer to eat plant material over animals, they will sometimes eat fish along with other insects, worms and even tadpoles. Often, they eat these tiny live animals incidentally while they are consuming plants in and out of the water.
Some geese enjoy grabbing insects and other minuscule animals more than others. Geese are not carnivores, animals that mainly eat other animals, and geese do not eat animals larger than a small fish or long worm.
You will never see a goose actively hunting another animal besides a small fish or insect. They do not eat other geese, waterfowl or large animals because they do not have the ability to overpower these animals.
Geese can defend themselves to a point, but they are not hunters by nature. Their bodies are designed to consume and derive energy from eating plant-based matter as opposed to other animals, so they instinctively desire plants over animals. (source)
Is it ok to feed fish to a pet goose?
It is perfectly fine to let your goose eat fish, but if you hand feed them fish, you may find that they are not interested. Many pet goose owners try to feed the waterfowl fish by hand, but the goose does not eat it at all or seem to understand that it is food.
Fish are not a typical food source for geese, and they will not actively look for it naturally. Most geese that enjoy eating fish also enjoy the fun of catching the fish in the water.
If you find out that your pet goose or geese are like this, you can add fish to a pond on your property so that they can decide for themselves if they want to eat fish or not.
Is fish healthy for geese to eat?
Geese are herbivores and their bodies are designed to run off the energy they get from eating plants and plant-based material. While eating fish is not bad for geese, it cannot be their only source of food because their body will not process it as easily and completely as it can plant-based foods.
They will need their plant-based meals to give them the vitamins, minerals and energy they need to live long lives. (source) Moderation is key when it comes to letting your geese eat fish regularly.
You should always make sure that your geese have plenty of access to plants or specially formulated waterfowl feed to help offset the fish that they consume.
Can I feed my pet goose canned or cooked fish?
While it probably will not harm them, you should avoid feeding pet geese canned fish products or cooked fish. Their bodies were not designed to handle these processed and cooked foods and it is not considered healthy for them to eat it.
Instead, feed your goose feed designed specifically for waterfowl or provide them access to ponds that they can eat natural plants and insects, as well as live fish, whenever they want. This will ensure that they receive the balanced diet that they need to thrive.
Why geese eat less fish than ducks
Many people mistakenly assume that ducks and geese, both waterfowl, eat similar amounts of fish in the wild. The truth is that ducks eat way more fish on average than geese do.
Ducks are omnivores, which means they eat an almost equal blend of plant and animal-based food sources depending on what is available. A duck’s bill is designed for eating a vast array of plants, insects and fish while geese have bills that are made more for grabbing grass and plants than eating other animals.
Instinctively, geese prefer eating plants over fish, which seems to be in part due to evolutionary changes that help waterfowl of different species exist together.
If geese are better suited for grazing on plants and ducks can eat more fish, plants and insects, then both ducks and geese can live in harmony together without competing over the same exact food. (source)
Geese do occasionally eat fish, some more often than others, and it is perfectly healthy for them! Some geese may not like fish at all and that is understandable as they are primarily considered to be herbivores that eat mostly plants and occasionally insects. Steer clear of feeding your goose fish unless it is live and fresh from the water, preferably ones that they catch themselves.