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Author Topic: Ducks cannot digest bacon
snopes
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Comment: I have heard something similar to the alkaseltzer bird thing..that
ducks cannot digest bacon,and that tying raw bacon in twine will be
immediately pooped out,(and consequently swallowed by another
duck),resulting in a veritable 'string of ducks'...while this strikes me
as an obscure,infantile,and unusually cruel type of prank...could there be
any credence to it?

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Pixiechic
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I think what scares me most about this comment is that it's actually readable. Almost no misspellings and the person actually used words like "infantile".

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Nick Theodorakis
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That could be the explanation why a duck's quack doesn't echo.

Nick "and no one knows why"

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Major D. Saster
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The "string of ducks" thing is older than one would think - 1786 in fact - it's one of the many tall tales of Baron Münchhausen.

Here a link to Gottfried August Bürger's original german text (chapter II : hunting stories):

http://gutenberg.spiegel.de/buerger/muenchhs/muench02.htm

(I can't find it in english, and have no time for an extensive translation, so here it is in short : the Baron stands by a lake and sees a few dozens wild ducks, unfortunately too widely scattered to be taken with one shot - and anyway, he only has a single cartridge left. So, he attaches a piece of greasy bacon to a long dogleash he's got, and waits for the first duck to eat it... of course, the bacon swiftly slips "through" the duck, to be eaten by the next one, and so on until Münchhausen has a long string of ducks to serve his numerous friends for supper. As there are too many of them to be carried home easily, he turns the rope around his chest and shoulders a few times. Suddenly, the ducks start flapping their wings, and the Baron conveniently flies home.)

... and although Baron Münchhausen himself actually existed

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Baron_Munchhausen

... I don't think the story's true. [Wink]

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skeptic
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I heard from family that my uncle did this as a child and succeeded in getting some ducks.

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Casey, making hot chocolate
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The versions I've heard mention salt pork instead of bacon. Could it be the fat they can't digest?

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Major D. Saster
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Strangely enough, all the results I got by Googling duck, bacon, string, fat, hunting and so on (together or separate) only led to delicious duck receipes.

If it was a well-known, centuries-old traditional way to catch ducks, how comes that no one mentions it, and why the Hell do duck-hunters keep on schlepping around those heavy shotguns instead of strings and bacon ?

And, if ducks can't digest fat, how do they make "foie gras de canard" ? Feeding them with Kellog's Special K ?

Inquiring minds want to know. [Big Grin]

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The Fourth Man
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You're probably being facetious, but foie gras isn't made by feeding the ducks with fat. It's made by feeding them large amounts of grain (generally maize).

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Major D. Saster
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I was being only half-facetious. What I meant is that if ducks could not digest fat, they also wouldn't stock it in their liver, thus producing foie gras. Whatever they're fed with (mostly maize, but also a mixture of grains, which are generally fat).

But OK, I might be wrong as we're talking self-produced and not ingested fat.

About the duck string story, I stand to my opinion: tall tale. (BTW, two more questions : how long would it take for the bacon to go through the duck ?... and why should a duck feel attracted by a piece of bacon... especially if it comes out of a colleague's bum ??)

If someone proves me wrong, I'll eat a roasted magret de canard drinking Sauternes in his/her honor.

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Doc J.
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quote:
Originally posted by Major D. Saster:
I was being only half-facetious. What I meant is that if ducks could not digest fat, they also wouldn't stock it in their liver, thus producing foie gras. Whatever they're fed with (mostly maize, but also a mixture of grains, which are generally fat).

[Confused]

Grains contain very little fat - they are mostly carbohydrate (starch).

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Arriah
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Bodies (even duck bodies) are very very good carb to fat transmuters [Smile] Which is why the Atkins diet was so popular.

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Major D. Saster
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Oops - you're right. My bad. I may be lost in translation.

Yet, I found this official FAO site (in French) about duck-keeping. In point 2.3, they talk about optimal duck-feeding, which includes a certain amount of fat(graisses), sunflower seeds and peanut (arachides).

http://www.fao.org/docrep/field/003/AC556F/AC556F02.htm

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Dutch Angua
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Although I do think most of the foodstuffs from bacon is not absorbed, I very much doubt it will come out completely intact after a dunk in the gastric juice. I don't even think the pylorus sphincter would easily allow such a great chunck of food to pass from the stomach that easily.

At least, this is what I learned about the (standard)digestive system of animals. I don't know if this goed for birds too, that's a subject for next trimester.
So if you guys can wait two or three months [Big Grin]

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Major D. Saster
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Excellent idea, and while we wait, we can start other clever discussions based on Baron Münchhausen stories, and try to find out if it's possible to whip a wolf out of its skin, knock sparkles out of your eyes to ignite gunpowder, ride a cannonball or lift yourself out of a swamp by pulling your own hair. [Big Grin]

'C'mon, fellow Snopesters, Debunking Münchhausen, someone ? [lol]

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Horse Chestnut
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I always thought this was the source of the old phrase "...like grease thorugh a goose"; the belief that birds cannot process fat, and it will pass through their digestive tract in a matter of minutes.

I remember reading a horrific story in a book, (Red Sky At Morning?) about someone doing this to a seagull. They threw a piece of bacon fat tied to a string into the air. A seagull caught and swallowed the fat. The fat passed right through the seagull, and the kid had himself a literal seagull "kite".

I couldn't find anything about this by Googling either. Just haven't phrased it right, I guess.

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geminilee
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Even if they could not digest it, it would not come out right away. It would sit there not being digested for as long as it takes for food to get through a duck normally. Kind of like the quarter you swallowed as a kid didn't come shooting out right away, even though you couldn't digest it.

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Evil_eyes
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Can I hijack for a sec. When I was scrolling down the main message board page, I read this title as: Drunks can't digest bacon. you may continue on now.

E * who is being a smartass today* E

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mouse goddess
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Didn't Silas say that he did this as a kid?? Seems like I remember him confirming the "geese through a goose" thing.

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Mama Duck
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Well, I know I have no problem digesting bacon, though I've never tried raw. That has to count for something right?

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Zamboni_Rodeo
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quote:
Originally posted by skeptic:
I heard from family that my uncle did this as a child and succeeded in getting some ducks.

Interesting... my dad told me that his father did something similar as a kid, only he strung geese together using a piece of liver on a string. Different variables, same result.

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Seraphina
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Even if it did work and the bacon would give the bird such a diarrhea that it would come out the other end fast, it would be coated in the feces. I doubt that any other bird would be in hurry to swallow it.
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Penny
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Leaving aside the "bait" portion of the tale, is it even possible for a creature to have an unbroken length of string running through it? Wouldn't it get tangled in the intestines or interfere with the operation of the sphincters?
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Troberg
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I don't know about ducks, but I think they did that stunt in Jackass as a "full body floss". Duck, obviously, are much smarter than the Jackass crew, and would probably not try it.

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DrMerkwuerdig
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Ducks do eat a fair amount of animal matter (worms and so on). That must contain some fat, so they can not completely lack a digestive system for fat. Even if they do have problems with digesting large amounts of fat, it will still, as others have pointed out, take a long time to pass through the duck.
Also, I doubt that any non-synthetic string can stand up to stomach acid long enough for this to work.

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Spamamander in a pear tree
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Some kind of strings apparently can survive digestive tracts however- a pediatrician at the military hospital told me when they were checking my daughter for giardia (nasty lil intestinal parasite, we were running out of ideas about what was causing her tummy trouble) about the "old" method of testing back in perhaps WW2... where the person would swallow a capsule with a string on it, and keep one end of the string hanging from the mouth... and when the other end hit, er, bottom it would be drawn out to get a sample. Through the mouth. Uggh.

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Artemis
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Even if it did come out of the duck so fast, why would it still be hanging out of the duck's anus like a string? Wouldn't it just pass entirely out of the duck?

...can't believe I am posting this question...

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Horse Chestnut
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There are no stupid questions, Artemis, only stupid ducks. Which is why we can supposedly catch one by tying a piece of bacon fat to a string and waiting for the duck to swallow and pass through the fat.

Which begs the question; if we pull on the string too fast, would the bacon fat just come back out of the mouth by the same route?

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Troberg
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quote:
Some kind of strings apparently can survive digestive tracts however- a pediatrician at the military hospital told me when they were checking my daughter for giardia (nasty lil intestinal parasite, we were running out of ideas about what was causing her tummy trouble) about the "old" method of testing back in perhaps WW2... where the person would swallow a capsule with a string on it, and keep one end of the string hanging from the mouth... and when the other end hit, er, bottom it would be drawn out to get a sample. Through the mouth. Uggh.
Sounds like a myth to me. As the intestines is more or less a big tangle, I suspect that you would run a huge risk of tearing them as you pull. Then we have the entire issue of transferring bacterial cultures from places where they are supposed to be to places they are not supposed to be.

I think he was just making conversation with a lighthearted story to show that it could be worse.

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Neffti Noel
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quote:
Originally posted by Spamamander Sushimi:
Some kind of strings apparently can survive digestive tracts however- a pediatrician at the military hospital told me when they were checking my daughter for giardia (nasty lil intestinal parasite, we were running out of ideas about what was causing her tummy trouble) about the "old" method of testing back in perhaps WW2... where the person would swallow a capsule with a string on it, and keep one end of the string hanging from the mouth... and when the other end hit, er, bottom it would be drawn out to get a sample. Through the mouth. Uggh.

Wow, I'm sure there is a reason for pulling the string back through the mouth, but it makes more sense to me to pull it so it passes through in the direction nature intended...
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betabox
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quote:
Originally posted by Troberg:
quote:
Some kind of strings apparently can survive digestive tracts however- a pediatrician at the military hospital told me when they were checking my daughter for giardia (nasty lil intestinal parasite, we were running out of ideas about what was causing her tummy trouble) about the "old" method of testing back in perhaps WW2... where the person would swallow a capsule with a string on it, and keep one end of the string hanging from the mouth... and when the other end hit, er, bottom it would be drawn out to get a sample. Through the mouth. Uggh.
Sounds like a myth to me. As the intestines is more or less a big tangle, I suspect that you would run a huge risk of tearing them as you pull. Then we have the entire issue of transferring bacterial cultures from places where they are supposed to be to places they are not supposed to be.

I think he was just making conversation with a lighthearted story to show that it could be worse.

I knew a woman (Actually, she was a Friend Of A Co-worker, but I met her and talked to her) whose dog died as a result of eating a snagged end of a nylon-loop carpet.

It was a fairly young dog, and it got ahold of a snag in the carpet, and just kept eating as the carpet unraveled.

By the time she found the dog and got it to a vet, the indigestible nylon had worked its way into the intestines, and had done enough damage to result in the death of the dog.

Debunking Munchausen isn't always pretty. [Frown]

-bb

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mouse goddess
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That is true, but sometimes the dog can be saved through surgery...I'm sure Cervus can agree, I've seen dogs that have eaten baseballs (lots of string in there) have to have their abdomens cut open to get all of that mess out.

On the other hand, I was in an unenviable position involving string with some deer once. A little bit was hanging out of this deer's back end.......I thought at first that it was something stuck to the deer, and pulled on it, it wasn't.....The deer had followed someone into the feed barn, and when no one was looking, had eaten the pull-string off of the top of a bag of feed.
So here I am, pulling the whole mess out of the deer's back end.

Which I guess, does answer the question mentioned above about whether string could make it through the digestive system of an animal without being dissolved.

This would be cotton string in the gut of a ruminant.

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Kindly Wise
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The duck thing is a camp-fire story, although it is possible for a duck to pass a length of string,to leave the bitter end hanging from the anus/cloaca.

The reason string can be fatal to animals (or people, for that matter) is that the bowel tries to pass the string along by peristalsis. This results in two peristaltic waves acting as "anchor" points, which eventually causes the string to become taut. Intermediate peristaltic waves then act on the linear foreign body produced by the taut length of string, trying unsuccessfully to move it along. Repeated movement against the string actually saws through the bowel wall, leading to perforation, peritonitis and eventual death.

Diagnosis of this phenomenon involves taking contrast X-rays, which show the bowel piled up on itself in accordian-like pleats.

Surgery to remove a piece of string from a cat's bowel involves "multiple enterotomies", several incisions into the gut to get all of the string freed up from the anchor points.

We can, therefor, re-phrase the old conundrum "how long is a piece of string?" as "how MUCH is a piece of string?". The answer is "about $4000.00 US"....

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