Geese are a type of waterfowl that can commonly be seen all over the world and come with a large variety of physical features.
While most people may be familiar with the Canada goose, there are vastly more unique-looking geese across the world, such as the Chinese goose or the Emperor goose.
No matter what part of the world they’re in, geese all share similar dietary needs.
Geese may be best known for being fowl, but there is so much more to these massive waterfowl.
Do Geese Eat Fish?
No, geese do not eat fish and are completely unable to do so.
Because geese don’t have true teeth like most carnivores and omnivores, they are unable to even chew fish.
While there may be some birds that have no problem swallowing a fish whole, geese don’t have the strong digestive systems they’d need to break down the fish.
Birds that are able to eat fish have strong digestive enzymes that allow them to break down the proteins found in meat, but geese lack these enzymes because they have never had to eat fish.
Another reason that geese are unable to eat meats like fish is their incredibly short digestive tract.
While this shorter digestive tract is excellent for when they go on long flights, it limits the types of foods that geese can actually eat.
Geese aren’t predators.
Rather, they spend their days foraging for things like plant matter and insects.
Some of a goose’s favorite meals include roots, seeds, stems, shoots, flower bulbs, grass, grain, and berries.
One attribute that makes Canada geese unique from other breeds of geese is their ability to eat food underwater.
Canada geese love the foliage that can be found in freshwater locations, such as ponds, lakes, or rivers.
Geese that live in populated areas are more likely to rely on humans for their food, due to some people making a hobby out of feeding them.
As long as you’re feeding them things like seeds, whole wheat, or cracked corn, it’s a fine hobby to have.
Those who want to invite wild waterfowl like geese or ducks to live in a certain area will find that feeding them regularly is all it takes to earn their trust to a certain degree.
Do Geese Have Teeth?
No, geese do not have teeth like humans or other carnivorous animals.
Instead, geese have what are called tomia.
Although tomia may look like teeth, they’re actually hard, spiky cartilage that is attached to the tongue and beak.
Their long rows of saw-like teeth help grind up the insects and plant matter.
Tomia may be made of cartilage, but they aren’t as powerful as human teeth, which are covered in enamel.
A goose’s teeth are incredibly sharp, allowing its food to be broken down before it hits the digestive tract.
Due to the tiny nature of a goose’s digestive tracts, its food needs to be finely shredded before it swallows it.
If the food isn’t shredded finely enough, this can lead to digestive problems such as blockages.
Tomia are used for more than just shredding food.
They also aid in a goose’s attempt to grab food.
The tomia on a goose’s tongue are especially useful for gripping food like roots, insects, and other foliage that may need a tug.
The tomia on ridged lines of their tongue help keep in struggling prey.
A goose’s beak is too smooth to use for gripping fine things like blades of grass or small bugs, which is why the tomia on the sides of their beaks are so important.
Geese’s tomia aren’t as tough as a human’s teeth, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t hurt like crazy when you get bit by one.
Geese are known for being aggressive and are always ready to put up a fight.
When a goose bites you, it feels like two pieces of serrated wood clamping down on you.
Not only does it hurt from the pinching feeling, but the tomia are strong enough to break through the skin.
Just because a goose’s teeth are weaker doesn’t mean they should be underestimated.
What Shouldn’t Geese Eat?
Although people have been feeding bread to ducks and geese for generations, it has been killing birds slowly.
Human foods such as bread and crackers are like junk food for geese, but with worse health concerns.
If geese grow up eating bread, it can cause a condition called angel wing.
Angel wing causes the carpal joints in geese’s wings to grow incorrectly, which makes the wings stick flat out to the sides, rather than the goose being able to firmly tuck them in at its sides.
This deformity causes the birds to become flightless and affects the way their flight feathers grow in.
There is no way to cure angel wing in geese once it has set in, and these are normally rejected by their flock, meaning that the goose will most likely die alone.
If you are able to catch angel wing early enough in a gosling’s life, the damage can be reversed with a drastic change in its diet and medical intervention.
Angel wing isn’t the only problem that bread can cause.
When a goose lives on a diet of mostly bread, it isn’t getting the calcium it needs.
This can lead to metabolic bone disease, which causes all of a goose’s bones to soften and break more easily.
If its bones aren’t strong enough, a goose will no longer be able to fly and too weak to fight other waterfowl for food.
This leads the goose to become completely reliant on people to feed it.
Otherwise, it will starve to death.
There are also things that a goose may forage for itself that could lead to them getting fatally ill.
Some of the most common toxic foods that geese are exposed to include blue-green algae, botulism, cedarwood, copper, lead, mycotoxins, pesticides, herbicides, rodenticides, wood stain, and paint.
Why Geese Make Great Pets
Despite wild geese being known for their feisty and aggressive nature, domesticated geese can be a completely different story.
Some domesticated geese are just as friendly as a dog or cat, depending on how they’re raised.
When compared to other fowl, geese are incredibly easy to raise.
As long as they have enough room to roam around and forage, you rarely have to feed them.
They’ll spend their days ridding your lawn of bugs and take a bite out of any tasty plant they see.
Their upkeep costs increase during the winter months because you need to feed them, but food for poultry or fowl is never expensive.
Geese are also much more resistant to cold weather than chickens or ducks.
What makes geese positively unique from other livestock birds is their ability to build strong bonds with their owners, especially if they’re raised young.
The more time you invest into your geese, the more loyal they become.
As a goose becomes closer with its owner, you’ll often see it become more affectionate and excited to see you.
Some geese love to snuggle up in their owner’s lap, and others like to play with their owners.
Another hidden bonus of raising geese is that they make excellent watchdogs.
Geese are known for being incredibly territorial, which can play to an owner’s advantage if they’re looking to keep other critters or even people out.
Not only are geese willing to fight for their home, but they also make amazing alert systems.
The second a goose sees something unfamiliar or new come into its territory, it will begin honking furiously and may even begin to hiss to alert the flock.
What separates a nice goose from a mean goose is the way they’re raised.
Your devotion pays off with geese.
The Problem With Raising Geese
As wonderful as geese can be, there’s always the chance that your goose may not turn out the way you expected.
Some fowl just seem to have an unbreakable mean streak in them, but it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t still care for them.
One of the best ways to keep your pets from becoming problematic is to research the problems that can arise in them before you actually get a pet.
Being knowledgeable in the struggles of raising geese is the most proactive step you can take.
While geese make incredible alert systems for people who may not live close to neighbors, people who are right next to others may want to reconsider adopting geese.
Geese are incredibly loud and are known to lead to more than one noise complaint.
Part of the reason that geese are so loud is that they’re easily startled.
In the wild, geese have to remain on guard, or they’ll become a meal for a local cat or coyote.
When geese are startled or confused, they’ll honk loudly until the problem is solved in their eyes.
Geese can be startled by anything, from the snap of a twig to fast movements.
When children are interacting with geese, their time should be supervised.
A child who runs up to a goose with open arms is more likely to get bit than hugged, with some exceptions for geese that have been raised by the child and are used to their mannerisms.
Because geese are social animals, they need to be a part of a flock.
Geese are better able to protect themselves if they’re in a larger group.
Although geese may be able to defend themselves from small predators, they need to be in a secured area to prevent animals like foxes from picking them off.
Can Geese Live With Ducks Or Chickens?
Yes, geese are able to live with ducks and chickens.
The most successful mixed-species flocks start at young ages and are able to grow up together without too many problems.
Whenever you adopt a new bird, there will be some minor physical altercations due to the birds’ natural desire to have a pecking order.
This is why it is better to introduce birds of similar ages and consider the personalities of the birds.
Considering your flock dynamic is crucial to ensuring that all the members of the flock get along.
You should consider details such as the gender and the age of the new bird, how much room your flock has inside and outside of its coop, and the type of environment you’re introducing the new bird to.
You should avoid raising male geese or ducks with chickens.
Unlike roosters, male geese and ducks have actual penises, and they don’t see much of a difference between a chicken and another waterfowl.
If a male goose or duck were to try to breed with a hen, this could leave the hen with a prolapsed vent.
When this occurs, the vent is left protruding outside of its body and can be fatal for the hen.
Another thing to consider when combining waterfowl with chickens is that these birds prefer different habitats.
Chickens like to stay dry, whereas geese and ducks need water to survive and be happy.
The best way to combine waterfowl and chickens is by giving waterfowl their own pool area that is away from the coop.
This gives them a chance to get dry and find another spot to feel comfortable relaxing in.
To prevent in-flock fighting, ensure that your birds have plenty of room to forage and rest.
Limited space can lead to fighting over resources.
Geese Aren’t As Foul As They Seem
There’s no denying that geese can be mean and downright strange, but they’re beautiful creatures that deserve to be treated with the same respect ducks receive.
It’s important to be mindful of wild geese’s territory and their dietary needs when interacting with them.
When all geese have known is violence from other creatures, you can’t blame them for hissing in an attempt to tell you to back off.
Those who choose to learn how to read animal behavior will have a more positive experience with even the meanest birds.NEXT: JennAir Vs. KitchenAid (12 Differences Explained)