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< >  Nettapus coromandelianus - Cotton pygmy-goose (Click photographs/illustrations: full picture & further details)
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General and References

Alternative Names (Synonyms)

Cotton teal
White pygmy goose
White-quilled pygmy-goose
White-quilled dwarf-goose
Pygmy goose
Koromandelzwergente (German)
Zwerglanzente (German)
Anserelle de Coromandel (French)
Sarcelle de Coromandel (French)
Ganso pigmeo de la India (Spanish)
Gansito Asiatico (Spanish)
Nettapus coromandelianus coromandelianus - Indian pygmy goose
Nettapus coromandelianus albipennis - Australian pygmy goose
Nettapus coromandelianus albipennis - White-quilled pygmy-goose

Names for newly-hatched

Duckling, downy.

Names for non-breeding males or other colour-phases


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Species Author

Debra Bourne

Major References

B1, B3, B6, B8, B19, B25, B26, B44.9.w1

Aviculture references:
B7, B11.33.w1, B29, B94, B97, B139
D1, D8

Other References

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TAXA Group (where information has been collated for an entire group on a modular basis)

Parent Group

Specific Needs Group referenced in Management Techniques

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Aviculture Information


General information:
  • Perching Ducks and "geese" are generally happier maintained fully-flighted if possible, for example in an aviary for the smaller species, or under flight netting.
  • While the larger species in this group are hardy, the smaller species may be more delicate and require winter shelter. These species eat a high proportion of vegetable matter and appreciate a grazing area. Most of these species are hole-nesters.
  • Many of these species are sociable outside the breeding season, although Cairina moschata - Muscovy duck, Cairina scutulata - White-winged duck, Pteronetta hartlaubii - Hartlaub's duck and Plectropterus gambensis - Spur-winged goose can all be aggressive and require separate enclosures.

(B7, B11.33.w1, B94, D1)

  • Pygmy geese are delicate and breed extremely rarely in captivity. They may be best maintained fully-flighted in an aviary. A raised nest box should be provided. The normal laying period is May to June (B29); eggs laid July to September, New York (N1.90.w1).
  • Ducklings apparently feed by straining small particles from the water. Feeding may be stimulated by rapidly moving fingers in a dish of water containing fine feed; this may be required for three weeks or more. Duckweed may also be useful to encourage feeding, but may itself be too large for young downies to eat. Supplemental tube feeding has been useful in downies during the initial rearing period (N1.90.w1).

(B7, B29, N1.90.w1)

Species-specific information:

  • Cotton pygmy-geese are more winter-hardy than the other pygmy geese and have been maintained outside even with weather sufficiently cold to partially freeze their pond, although they are still considered cold-sensitive.
  • Small seeds (e.g. finch mix, budgie mix) and waterweeds or other green food, also starter crumbs may be fed.
  • Breeding may be best if birds of this species are kept in a colony on a large open sunny pond. Nest boxes 30x30x48cm, with a 9cm diameter hole 12cm from the top of the box should be provided, a ramp giving access to the box and nesting material (sawdust and fine shell grit) provided inside.
  • Parent-rearing has been successful where shallow water allowed small particles to be stirred up by the adults and eaten by the ducklings (N1.90.w1). Parents are good sitters and are attentive to the ducklings, usually rearing them (B139)

(B97, N1.90.w1, D1). B139

Aviornis UK Ringing Scheme recommended average ring size: E 6.0mm (D8).

Management Techniques

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External Appearance (Morphology)

Measurement & Weight

Length 13 inches, 33cm (B3); 31-38cm (B1).
Adult weight General 380-400g (B1)
Male 311-430g average 403g (B3).
Nettapus coromandelianus coromandelianus 9.0-11.0 ounces, Nettapus coromandelianus albipennis mean 14.2 ounces (B8).
Female 255-439g average 380g (B3).
Nettapus coromandelianus coromandelianus 6.5-9.0 ounces, Nettapus coromandelianus albipennis mean 13.4 ounces (B8).
Newly-hatched weight --
Growth rate --

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Adult Bill Male Blackish (B3, B8, B25, B26).
Variations (If present) --
Eyes (Iris) Male Red.
Variations(If present) Female:- Brown.
Juvenile Bill Blackish (B3, B8, B25).
Eyes (Iris) Brown (B3, B25).

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Adult Male Blackish (B3, B8, B25, B26).
Variations (If present) --
Juvenile Blackish (B3, B8, B25).

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Adult Male Head and neck white with blackish forehead and crown and narrow black eyering. Upperparts green-glossed black, Breast and underparts white with narrow breastband black; flanks pale grey, tail and undertail coverts black, uppertail coverts whitish.
Wing green-glossed black, primaries wide white subterminal band secondaries white tips. (B3, B6, B8, B25, B26).
Variations (If present) Female:- Duller: head, neck and underparts whitish with grey-brown wash and darker mottling, darkest on flanks; crown, hindneck and eyeline dark grey-brown; upperparts green-glossed dark grey-brown. Wing dark except secondaries white-tipped (B3, B6, B8, B25, B26).

Eclipse:- Similar to females, but upperparts darker; retain male wing pattern (B3, B6, B25).

Juvenile Similar to female but duller upperparts, darker mottling on underparts, eyestripe more distinct, males soon have more white on wing (B1, B3, B25, B26).

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Newly-hatched Characteristics

General: Upperparts dark grey-brown with white patches, underparts including face and neck white with dark eyestreak. (B6, B1).
Bill: Grey (B6)
Feet: Grey (B6)

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Reproductive Season

Time of year Variable, laying during rains. Begin November-January in South-east Queensland, Australia (B1). Nesting February to August Sri Lanka, June to September northern India, January to March Australia (B25). Mainly June to August in Asia, November to April Australia (B8).
No. of Clutches Possibly a second clutch in some locations, but not confirmed (B3).

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Nest placement and structure

In tree hollows, usually 2-5metres up, sometimes higher, near water; occasionally using buildings. Line with down and feathers. (B1, B3, B8, B25, B26)

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Egg clutches

No. of Eggs Average --
Range 6-16 (B1); 6-10 (B8).
Egg Description Creamy white (B3), sometimes initially olive-tinged (B8); size: 47x35mm; weight 27g (B3).

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21-24 days (B8); 28 days recorded in captivity (B139).

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45-55 days (B8).

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Sexual Maturity

Males --
Females --

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Feeding Behaviour

Adults Dabble, graze while swimming, pick food from surface, snap at insects (B1, B8, B25, B26)
Newly-hatched --

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Parental Behaviour

Nest-building Solitary nests. (B1)
Incubation By female (B3)
Newly-hatched Tended by both parents (B8)

Families stay together until fledging (B8).

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Social Behaviour

Intra-specific Usually found in pairs or small groups (B8, B25, B26).
Inter-specific Sometimes found with other species (B8).

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Sexual Behaviour

Strong pair bonds, may be seasonal (B8).

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Predation in Wild


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Activity Patterns

Circadian --

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Natural Diet


Basically vegetarian: seeds, grasses, green parts of aquatic plants; some insects (B1, B3, B26).

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Range and Habitat

Distribution and Movement (Migration etc.)

Normal Nettapus coromandelianus coromandelianus lowlands of southern and eastern Asia, Sulawesi, New Guinea (up to 7,400 feet).
Nettapus coromandelianus albipennis north-eastern Australia (eastern Queensland)
(B1, B8, B19)

Mainly sedentary. Some northern birds (e.g. China) move to lower latitudes. Some dispersal in rainy season (B3, B8)

Occasional and Accidental




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Tropical lowlands: well-vegetated deep fresh-water pools, lakes, lagoons; also marshes, swamps, slow-flowing rivers, streams (B1, B8, B19, B25, B26).

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Intraspecific variation

Nettapus coromandelianus coromandelianus - Indian cotton pygmy-goose slightly smaller; Nettapus coromandelianus albipennis - Australian cotton pygmy-goose slightly larger and much less abundant. (B1, B8).

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Conservation Status

Wild Population -

Not considered globally threatened, and locally common, but Australian sub-species Nettapus coromandelianus albipennis numbers low. (B1, B8)

CITES listing --
Red-data book listing --
Threats Nettapus coromandelianus albipennis: loss of habitat from wetland drainage and introduced water-hyacinths which choke water surfaces (B8, B44.9.w1)

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Captive Populations

Uncommon in collections but more success in breeding recently (B8).

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