Hottentot Teal (Anas hottentota)

Hottentot Teal

[order] ANSERIFORMES | [family] Anatidae | [latin] Anas hottentota | [authority] Eyton, 1838 | [UK] Hottentot Teal | [FR] Sarcelle hottentote | [DE] Hottentottenente | [ES] Cerceta Hotentote | [NL] Hottentottaling | [copyright picture] Nick Athanas


Monotypic species


Anas is a genus of dabbling ducks. It includes mallards, wigeons, teals, pintails and shovelers in a number of subgenera. Some authorities prefer to elevate the subgenera to genus rank.[1] Indeed, as the moa-nalos are very close to this clade and may have evolved later than some of these lineages, it is rather the absence of a thorough review than lack of necessity that this genus is rather over-lumped. The phylogeny of this genus is one of the most confounded ones of all living birds. Research is hampered by the fact the radiation of the two major groups of Anas ? the teals and mallard groups ? took place in a very short time and fairly recently, roughly in the mid-late Pleistocene. Furthermore, hybridization may have long played a major role in Anas evolution, with within-subgenus hybrids regularly and between-subgenus hybrids not infrequently being fully fertile.[1] The relationships between species are much obscured by this fact, and mtDNA sequence data is of dubious value in resolving their relationships; on the other hand, nuclear DNA sequences evolve too slowly to resolve the phylogeny of the subgenus Anas for example. Some major clades can be discerned. For example, that the traditional subgenus Anas, the mallard group, forms a monophyletic (in the loose sense, i.e. non-holophyletic) group has never been seriously questioned by modern science and is as good as confirmed (but see below). On the other hand, the phylogeny of the teals is very confusing. For these reasons, the dabbling duck lineages more distantly related to mallard group (which includes the type species of Anas) than the wigeons should arguably be separated in their own genera. These would include the Baikal Teal, the Garganey, the spotted black-capped Punanetta group, and the shovelers and other blue-winged species. Whether the wigeons, which are very distinct in morphology and behavior, but much less so in mtDNA cytochrome b and NADH dehydrogenase subunit 2 sequences, should also be considered a distinct genus Mareca (including the Gadwall and Falcated Duck) is essentially the one remaining point of dispute as regards the question which taxa should remain in this genus and which ones should not.

Physical charateristics

orsal head from eye upward, and hind neck black-brown, ventral head, sides and fore-neck buff with dusky patch on sides of upper neck. Breast and underparts buff with dark brown spots, largest on fore flanks; rear flanks plain buff. Rump blackish, tail-coverts and hind abdomen/ventral region vermiculated buff and blackish. Upperparts dark brown with greyish edges to feathers. Wing black-brown with faint green-blue gloss, secondaries metallic green, black subterminal band, broad white tips. Female is duller, crown browner, patch on neck less defined, scapulars shorter, ventral region not vermiculated, secondaries browner.

Listen to the sound of Hottentot Teal

[audio: Teal.mp3]

Copyright remark: Most sounds derived from xeno-canto

wingspan min.: 58 cm wingspan max.: 69 cm
size min.: 30 cm size max.: 36 cm
incubation min.: 25 days incubation max.: 27 days
fledging min.: 45 days fledging max.: 55 days
broods: 2   eggs min.: 6  
      eggs max.: 9  


Africa : East, Southeast, South, Westcentral. Tropical eastern Africa: Ethiopia to Cape Province, westward to northern Botswana and Namibia, and Madagascar


This species frequents shallow, freshwater marshes, swamps, pools and lakes, feeding at muddy edges and amongst submerged, floating (water-lilies) and emergent (Papyrus, reeds – Phragmites spp., bullrushes – Typha spp.) vegetation. It may occasionally be seen on more open lakes and reservoirs, or sewage pans, and will feed on land in flooded fields, rice paddies and waterside areas heavily disturbed by wild ungulates or cattle. During the dry season this species regularly occurs in small numbers on small scattered pans in semi-arid regions. Throughout the day the species often sleeps on open water or in quiet marshy backwaters and may also rest on land.


Onset of breeding with geographical variation; may be most of year when water levels suitable; mainly January-April in South Africa, June-October in Kenya. Nests are built from surrounding vegetation and well hidden above water in drowned trees, Phragmites or Typha reeds, Cyperus sedge or in Papyrus clumps. Nest on ground, cup-shape, sometimes covered, constructed from reeds and grass, with dense down lining Usually this species nests singly, but pairs will sometimes nest close together. They breed solitary or in loose groups, nest is built by female. Clutch size is 6-9 eggsincubated by female. Male remains nearby to defend mate. Newly-hatched are tended by female, but males sometimes accompany. Young fledge after 45-55 days.

Feeding habits

This species is omnivorous, as although its diet consists largely of seeds (especially of the grass Sacciolepis), fruits and other vegetable matter, it may take aquatic invertebrates such as crustaceans, molluscs, water insects such as beetles and the larvae of flies (especially if these are super-abundant). The species is crepuscular, being active usually only at dusk and dawn. Forages by dabbling on surface while swimming and wading and from shore, head-dip and up-end in shallows.

Video Hottentot Teal


copyright: Josep del Hoyo


This species has an extremely large range, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the range size criterion (Extent of Occurrence <20,000 km2 combined with a declining or fluctuating range size, habitat extent/quality, or population size and a small number of locations or severe fragmentation). Despite the fact that the population trend appears to be decreasing, the decline is not believed to be sufficiently rapid to approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population trend criterion (>30% decline over ten years or three generations). The population size is very large, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population size criterion (<10,000 mature individuals with a continuing decline estimated to be >10% in ten years or three generations, or with a specified population structure). For these reasons the species is evaluated as Least Concern.
Habitat degradation (e.g. wetland conversion by commercial and subsistence agriculture in South Africa) is the main threat to this species, so the protection of wetlands and waterside vegetation (also deliberately burnt in South Africa) is necessary to maintain populations. Utilisation This species is hunted (e.g. it is hunted for local consumption and trade at Lake Chilwa, Malawi), and although hunting at current levels does not threaten the species, a control of hunting practices may be necessary in the future to maintain population sizes at current levels.
Hottentot Teal status Least Concern


This species is sedentary in West Africa and Madagascar but partly migratory elsewhere, undertaking regular but unpredictable4 short-distance movements (up to 700 km) in southern and eastern Africa in response to changing water levels.

Distribution map

Hottentot Teal distribution range map

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *