African Pygmy Goose Fact File


Despite their name the African pygmy goose is actually considered to be a species of duck despite the short stubby bill which is colored yellow with a black tip in males and a dark color in females.

They are pygmy both in name and nature with the African pygmy goose considered to be the smallest species of waterfowl on Earth.

Males and females are considered sexually dimorphic due to the difference in their appearance. Males have a white face surrounded by green feathers along the back of the neck and the back.

Females are duller in color with a greyish face featuring a dark brown eye stripe and a small patch of green on the head.

Both males and females feature chestnut brown plumage around the lower portions of the body with a white belly.

Their short legs are colored grey.

Males tend to be slightly larger than males. An average length for the species is 30-33cm (12-13in) long with an average weight of 260-285g (9-10oz). They have a wingspan of 14.2-16.5cm (5.6-6.5in) across.


African pygmy geese are considered omnivores. They will feed on seeds, insects and small fish which they find in quiet, reedy water.

African pygmy goose

Scientific Name

Tetrao urogallus

Conservation Status

Least Concern


260-285g (9-10oz)


30-33cm (12-13in)


14.2-16.5cm (5.6-6.5in)


15 years



-- AD --


Africa is the native home of the African pygmy goose. Here they can be found throughout the Central and southern portions of the continent along with occurring on the island of Madagascar.

Their range covers the following countries - Angola; Benin; Botswana; Burkina Faso; Burundi; Cameroon; Central African Republic; Chad; Congo; Congo, The Democratic Republic of the; Côte d'Ivoire; Djibouti; Equatorial Guinea; Eritrea; Eswatini; Ethiopia; Gabon; Gambia; Ghana; Guinea; Guinea-Bissau; Kenya; Lesotho; Liberia; Madagascar; Malawi; Mali; Mauritania; Mozambique; Namibia; Niger; Nigeria; Rwanda; Senegal; Sierra Leone; Somalia; South Africa; South Sudan; Sudan; Tanzania, United Republic of; Togo; Uganda; Zambia and Zimbabwe.


They will make their home in slow moving bodies of water which provide cover through aquatic plants such as lilies. Their home may be at an inland wetland, open swamp, river pool or estuary. Occasionally they are found in coastal lagoons.

African pygmy goose


Breeding season for the African pygmy goose is variable across its range as it is triggered by rain. Most pairs nest on their own.

The nest is formed in a hollow tree which is filled with different kinds of grass. It may also be built on the ground, in a termite mound or in a thatched roof.

In to the nest an average of 6 eggs will be deposited though as many as 12 have been recorded. The female undertakes most of the incubation duties.

At hatching the chicks will have blackish down with white spots on top.

The chicks will fledge at 7 weeks of age.

Sexual maturity is reached around two years old.


This species is considered either nomadic or partially migratory. They will move around based on the availability of water.

Outside of the breeding season these birds will form small groups of between 10 and 200 individuals.

These birds are a member of the perching duck family and can be seen perched in trees.

African pygmy goose

Predators and Threats

Throughout their range the African pygmy goose faces a range of threats including hunting, habitat degradation and disturbance. The introduction of non-native fish has changed aquatic life in some environments and forced them out of these areas.

These animals have experienced a small benefit from the building of dams which has created the perfect habitat for them.

Quick facts

African pygmy geese are considered to be the smallest species of waterfowl.

African pygmy goose

Photo Credits

Top and Middle One

By DickDaniels ( - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,

Middle Two

By Ltshears - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,


By Derek Keats from Johannesburg, South Africa - African pygmy goose, Nettapus auritus, at Muirhead Dams, Royal Macadamia Plantations, Machado, Limpopo, South Africa - male, CC BY 2.0,


Verhoef-Verhallen, E., 2006. The complete encyclopedia of wild animals. Netherlands: Rebo International. 2021. [online] Available at: <> [Accessed 2 April 2021]. 2021. Animal Details. [online] Available at: <> [Accessed 2 April 2021].

BirdLife International. 2016. Nettapus auritus. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2016: e.T22680095A92842795. Downloaded on 02 April 2021.

Detroit Zoo. 2021. African pygmy goose - Detroit Zoo. [online] Available at: <> [Accessed 2 April 2021].

The Buttonwood Park Zoo. 2021. African Pygmy Goose | The Buttonwood Park Zoo. [online] Available at: <> [Accessed 2 April 2021].

Denver Zoo. 2021. Lucy the African Pygmy Goose - Denver Zoo. [online] Available at: <> [Accessed 2 April 2021].

The Maryland Zoo. 2021. African Pygmy Goose | The Maryland Zoo. [online] Available at: <> [Accessed 2 April 2021]. 2021. African Pygmy Goose Facts and Information | SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment. [online] Available at: <> [Accessed 2 April 2021]. 2021. African Pygmy Goose | San Diego Zoo Animals & Plants. [online] Available at: <> [Accessed 2 April 2021].

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