Are Swans Aggressive? Ultimate Guide to Keeping and Breeding Swans

If you liked this post, share it now!

There is a lot of curiosity regarding swans on forums, but there is very little info on how you can acquire them and care for them. Hence, to gain some insight myself and to help my audience as well, I decided to research all about it. Here are my findings.


Are Swans Aggressive? Ultimate Guide to Keeping and Breeding Swans

Are swans aggressive?

Swans are generally considered aggressive, but they are not always that way. Swans are aggressive when they are protecting their females or new ones. In the mating season, it is not a good idea to come near a male swan (cob). They are fiercely protective of their own and would die to save them.

There is a lot more to learn about swans. As swans aren’t a commonly owned pet, there is not much reliable information available online; hence, reading this article completely can really help you out.

Do swans attack humans?

Swans are quite territorial, and they can attack humans if you come near them, especially in mating seasons. Swans do not use their hands, but rather, they attack using their wings. There have been reports in the media of swan attacks on kids roaming around water bodies.


Are swans more aggressive than geese?

Both swans and geese are aggressive, territorial waterfowls. Some say that swans are more aggressive than geese as they are larger, but others disagree. In any case, the aggression will depend on your familiarity with them and their personal nature.

Can Swans kill dogs?

Swans can kill small dogs, but they will be unable to do much damage to larger ones. It is instead the other way around. In fact, a lot of pet swan deaths happen due to dog attacks. [1]

Can swans be pets?

Credits to Instagram user unioncanalswans (Original post here)

Swans can be pets but not in the same way as cats and dogs are. You cannot keep a swan inside a small housing or without a big backyard. Their cygnets can live in a little place, but the large ones need a lot of things to survive.

We will discuss those things later on in this article.

Do swans live long?

Swans live in a long life in captivity. In the wild, their age is predicted to be around ten years. But, in captivity, they can live as high as 30 years.

How to buy a pet swan?

There are a lot of swan varieties available in the United States, but the most common ones are mute swans, black swans, whoopers, et cetera. In these, mute swans are preferred by most new owners.

Swans can be purchased from private breeders both online and off-line. But, before doing that, you should check out the regulations regarding them, or it may end up in a buyer’s remorse.

Regulations regarding mute swans

Mute swans are considered to be feral animals. They are labeled as invasive species by the federal regulators. Besides federal laws, there are also state laws which govern whether you can own a mute swan or not.

In any case, if you can own a swan/mute swan, you will need to get it pinioned (removing their ability to fly).

I have compiled a list of states that allow their citizens to own or possess a mute swan.

State Private possession Permit needed Extra details
Alaska Likely
Arkansas Yes Proper documentation of ownership required in case of inspection
California Unlawful
Colorado Likely
Delaware Unlawful
Idaho Yes According to federal law
Illinois Likely Not protected species
Indiana Yes Yes
Kentucky Unlawful
Louisiana Unlawful
Main Likely
Maryland New ownership Unlawful Yes Only those on private properties before 31 Aug 2009
Massachusetts Unlawful
Michigan Likely According to federal law
Minnesota Likely
Missouri Yes
New Jersey Likely
New York Yes with Permit Yes
North Carolina Yes No Pinioning is must
North Dakota Yes, with Permit and tagging Pinioning is must
Ohio Yes According to federal law
Oregon New ownership Unlawful
Pennsylvania Yes
South Dakota Likely
Tennessee Yes
Texas Yes No law
Utah Yes
Vermont Yes Pinioning is a must. Sterilization? Required
Virginia Unlawful
Washington Unlawful
Washington DC Unknown
West Virginia Unlawful
Wisconsin Yes with Permit Yes

Black Swans, Blacknecks, and Coscorobas are considered exotic pets, and ownership of them is allowed mostly all over the states. For other native swans like whoopers, you need to check out the details with your agriculture and wildlife authority.

You need a permit in most states to own native species like Trumpeters and whistlers as the Federal Waterfowl Act protects them.

All of these are current laws and can change in the future. So, cover yourself and ask the Wildlife authority in your state before making the decision.

Besides the US, UK also has strict regulations regarding mute swans. According to the Wildlife And Countryside 1981, anyone trying to “take” a wild waterfowl can be criminally charged.[5] Hence, keeping a swan as pet in the UK is a big NO-NO. Unless, the Queen can give a go ahead.[6]

In Canada, regulations require you to at least have a permit to keep mute swans[7]

Should you buy two swans instead of one?


It is better to have a pair instead of just one swan. Swans can become lonely and sometimes aggressive towards other waterfowls if they don’t have a partner to bond with. Even a male would do, but females are preferred.

black swan pair
photo from

If you want to keep mutes, one or two pairs are fine. You can have up to 5 pairs for black swans.

How much do swans cost?

A pair of mute swans can cost anywhere between $ 250 to $ 1500 based on the convenience and the breeder. Cygnets are much cheaper, though. A swan egg can cost anywhere between 50 to 100 dollars from a private breeder.

But, there is the problem of incubating their eggs regarding which there is not much data available. Still, I have compiled a guide for you to help you out.

Can I incubate/hatch a swan egg?

A swan Egg

As said before, there is not much data available on swan breeding. However, I read from a lot of sources and was able to compile a list of guidelines that, if followed, can result in an excellent success rate.

Swans breed from spring to summer and the cygnets come out a month after that.

Swan lay about 4 to 7 eggs at a time and the incubation lasts for 30 to 37 days. You need a lot to be right to get the cygnets out alive.

For this, you need a couple of equipment. Firstly you need to acquire swan eggs that are not dead on arrival. Then you need to get a good quality incubator. This one on Amazon has been found successful with swan eggs according to posts on the backyard forum. [2] If that’s not available, you can check here.

swan egg incubator
example of an incubator via

Besides that, the process is quite similar to incubating other waterfowl eggs like duck eggs. Check out this video to understand how the process goes for a duck egg.

YouTube video

The only difference that you need to do is that you should not mist or candle a swan egg. Two people on the backyard forum tried incubating swan eggs, but only one of them was successful. The difference? The second one, as stated in his post did not mist the eggs or remove them from their intubation device.

He kept the temperature at about 99.5° or 37.5 Celsius. And the humidity to about 60°.

This is also proven by a research paper done from 1993 to 1994. In that research, they found that a lot of swan eggs went to waste because of the change in humidity and temperature. You can read the paper here.

What do swans need to survive?

Water to swim

Swans cannot survive in indoor conditions when they are fully grown. You must have an outside space with at least a 20” diameter pool. The waterbody also needs an outlet to clean out the pool often.

You must also have an aerator so that the water doesn’t become extremely cold or icy in the winter seasons.

Swans have a large body, and they do not like to walk much. They mostly spend their time on a body of water. They also need water to digest food properly. Hence, in the starting, you can have a large kiddie pool, but eventually, you must have a sizeable real pool or pond settle them.


Besides that, they should have a shelter for night time and winter seasons. The housing or shelter should be large enough so that it covers their height, and they could flap their wings.



take from

Swans can graze on grass, but they should be provided with bird feed or pallets to get them enough protein for their muscles. You can offer them Mazuri bird food. You can also provide them with vegetables and fruits. Swans are also capable of eating lettuces, insects, and some small fishes.

In case you’re worried about feed pricing, you can also procure bird feed from a local mill. The price of 50 lbs bag should be around $ 9 to $ 10.

BTW they can also be provided with cracked corn, cereal, shredded carrots, spinach, brown rice, etc.


You should also create a barrier or fence at least two meters high so that they are protected from predators like dogs, foxes, bobcats, et cetera. As there is plenty of security and food here, they are unlikely to stray away with a fence.

Is there anything more to taking care of swans?

Small children should be kept away from swans, especially when they are mating. Swans could definitely hurt a small child even to the extent of breaking their bones and causing serious injury.

By installing a good fence, you would be able to provide the children with a view without letting them close to danger.

Also, do remember to wash hands and other parts of the body that in contact with the birds every time you do their handling. Birds like ducks and swans can have salmonella even if they are perfectly alright, and they can infect you and your kids. Do not allow anyone to kiss them.

In case you want to keep other poultry with these, give them some time to adjust. Swans can live with ducks and geese of large enough sizes. But, make sure that they have their separate areas in the pool, and the pool should be big enough to accommodate all of them.

Do add a lot of poultry animals as a larger group would make the pool messier more often.


Related Questions

Will swans fly away?

Swans are large birds, and therefore, the constant movement for them isn’t easy. Some species like the mutes rarely migrate to other places. If you have accommodation for all the swans and predator proofing, it is unlikely that they will fly away.

In some cases, a larger mute swan can push away other swan cobs (male swan) to safeguard his mate.

Are swans mean?

Swans are prey animals, and they can be easily preyed upon due to their less agile characteristics. They also mate once, and hence protecting their loved ones is the biggest priority for them. If they find anyone coming in between the protection of their family, they can get mean.

Besides that, several users have reported that their swans are quite mild and mellow. Once they get familiar with the parent/adopter, it can be possible to some extent.

Has a swan ever killed anyone?

Swans usually do not kill people, but a rare accident happened in 2012. A swan killed a man by pushing him out of his kayak and then repeatedly attacked him till he died. The news story does not cover the reason why the swan was so angry with him.

Why do swans hiss at you?

Swan hissing is a sign of aggression. If a swan is hissing at you, that means it is telling you to back off. Take your safety in mind and do so else things might get nasty.

How do you befriend a swan?

You can befriend a swan by respecting the boundaries, providing them treats, and avoiding interaction with them during mating seasons.

Do swans die of a broken heart?

There are reports [3] in news websites that swans can die from a broken heart. Swans usually mate for life, and hence losing a partner is quite heavy for them. However, this does not happen with every swan. They likely find a partner and remain with for the remaining part of their lives. [4]

What does it mean if a swan wags its tail?

In most waterfowls, wagging the tail is a sign of happiness. If swans are like ducks, they are likely wagging their tail in the introspection of a treat or food. They are happy!

Do both swan female (pen) and male (the cob) incubate the eggs?

Incubating is primarily done by the pen. The male, however, helps later when the cygnets get first time into the water.


If you liked this post, share it now!

Learn More