The duck being cleaned by staff. Picture: RSPCA

A mother duck is recovering at the RSPCA’s East Winch Wildlife Centre after being found drenched in engine oil.

The duck and her four ducklings were regular visitors to the grounds of Swaffham Veterinary Centre in Tower Meadows, where staff had even made her a makeshift pool.

They were horrified to see the mother and one of her ducklings were drenched in engine oil she visited earlier this month.

Staff called the RSPCA and they were taken to the East Winch centre, where they were washed in warm water and detergent to remove the oil.

It took around 10 minutes to clean the youngsters and 20 minutes for the mother. They were then rinsed thoroughly to remove any remaining oil and the detergent and then moved into a heated recovery room.

“Birds can get hypothermic post wash so staff had to help them dry off as quickly as possible then give them fluids to recover,” a spokesman said. It is not known how the birds became covered in oil but veterinary staff believe the birds may have accidentally fallen into something.

One of the ducklings is still extremely poorly after ingesting oil and it is not known if it will survive.

Centre manager Alison Charles, said: “It was very sad to see the poor mum covered from head to toe with oil, she literally had it dripping off her beak.

“While it would appear this has been an accident, we would always urge people to be mindful of how they dispose of and store oil.

“We know the staff at the vets are extremely fond of them and have really missed not seeing the family waddling by as usual, but it may be some time before they can go home.”