African Pygmy Goose

Nettapus auritus - Anserelle naine

  • Order 


  • Family


  • Genus


  • Species



Boddaert, 1783

  • Size
    : 33 cm
  • Wingspan
    : -
  • Weight
    : 260 à 290 g
Geographic range



Anserelle naine
♂ adult
Anserelle naine
♀ adult

The African Pygmy Goose is a small Anatidae (30-35 cm, weighing under 300 g), easily recognizable by its white face, its reddish underside and its dark green back.
The adult male in its nuptial plumage is especially distinguished by its entirely pure white face, its vivid orange bill with a black nail, and at the back of its head and neck, two black-fringed oval green patches.
In the female, the face and neck are dingy white, sometimes spotted with black. The forehead, headcap and nape are dark brownish-black. There is a dark line around the dark eye, and a blackish post-ocular band. The ear is adorned with a dark spot. The bill is less vivid orange than that of the male and has a dulled keel. The green of its back is usually more dull, less shiny, than that of the male.
When visible, the belly is white in both sexes. In flight, wings and tail are black. The wing shows a diagonal white bar which starts in the wrist area, passes through the coverts and broadens as it crosses the secondary remiges. The tertiaries and scapulars are shining dark green.
The young resemble the female, but are generally more beige-coloured. Young males acquire the orange bill and the green patch at the back of the head by the age of 6 months.

Subspecific information monotypic species

Foreign names

  • Anserelle naine,
  • Gansito africano,
  • ganso-pigmeu-africano,
  • Schmuckzwergente,
  • afrikai törpelúd,
  • Afrikaanse Dwergeend,
  • Oca pigmea africana,
  • afrikansk dvärgand,
  • Praktdvergand,
  • kačôčka čiapočkatá,
  • kachnička pestrá,
  • Afrikansk Dværgand,
  • afrikankääpiösorsa,
  • Dwerggans,
  • oca pigmea africana,
  • kaczuszka afrykańska,
  • Африканский блестящий чирок,
  • アフリカマメガン,
  • 厚嘴棉凫,
  • 厚嘴棉鴨,

Voice song and cries

Anserelle naine
♂ adult plum. breeding

The African Pygmy Goose is quite vocal, particularly during the breeding season or when under threat. It emits a series of high-pitched kwik sounds, on one or two notes.


Anserelle naine
♂ adult plum. breeding

The African Pygmy Goose lives in all kinds of terrestrial wetland habitats such as swamps, marshes, shallow lakes, and slow-moving rivers, as long as there is an abundance of aquatic vegetation which it depends on for its food.

Behaviour character trait

Anserelle naine
♀ adult

The African Pygmy Goose is a sedentary bird. However, it can make localized movements depending on the water level and the availability of food. It is very dependent on water and rarely ever comes ashore. It perches on submerged branches or trunks, or very close to the water. It usually lives in pairs or small family groups. Bigger gatherings are rare.


Anserelle naine
♂ adult

The beat of its wings is quick and energetic. The African Pygmy Goose usually flies at low altitudes over short distances.

Dietfeeding habits

Anserelle naine
♂ adult

The African Pygmy Goose mainly feeds on aquatic plants (leaves, bulbs, young shoots, etc.), and more particularly on water lilies and water lotuses whose seeds and flowers it appreciates. Occasionally, it can also eat aquatic insects and larvae. It rarely dives under the water surface.

Reproduction nesting

Anserelle naine
♂ adult

The African Pygmy Goose is monogamous and couples form for a long duration. The start of breeding season is variable due to its vast geographical spread, but usually coincides with the rainy season.

Anserelle naine
♂ adult
The couple selects the nest site together, often a cavity in a tree (old woodpecker or barbican nest), less often on banks or in a termite mound. The choice of site is guided by its proximity to water. The couple lines the nest with twigs, leaves, and down. The female lays 8-12 eggs which she incubates alone for 3-4 weeks. The hatchlings emerge simultaneously. They are mostly fed by the female. The male defends the territory. The chicks take flight around 40 days old.

Geographic range

Anserelle naine
♂ adult

The African Pygmy Goose can be found throughout Sub-Saharan Africa, with the exception of the more arid areas in the southwest of the continent. It occurs from Senegal in the north to Eritrea, and south to Angola and east to South Africa.

Threats - protection

Anserelle naine
♀ adult
IUCN conservation status
in the Wild

The African Pygmy Goose is considered of minor concern by the IUCN due to its very wide distribution area. However its density is low and the bird is generally uncommon. Its global population, estimated at around 200,000 individuals, is tending to decrease.

Sources of information

Other sources of interest

QRcode Anserelle naineSpecification sheet created on 30/07/2023 by
Translation by AI
published: - Updated: 08-03-2021
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