Anser anser

Order: Anseriformes


Husbandry Information

Housing Requirements

Diet Requirements

  • In the wild, geese feed primarily through grazing.
  • In captivity, they are fed Mazuri game bird pellets, lettuce, and grit
  • Geese are effective weeders because they like grasses but not broadleaf plants. The use of geese as weeders began in the United States in the 1950s when geese were used to weed cotton fields. Since then, geese have been used to weed a wide range of crops.

Veterinary Concerns

Notes on Enrichment & Training


Colony or Breeding Management

Notes species is housed or managed socially or for breeding purposes.

Individual Identification

Dimorphism or practiced ways to individually mark species (such as those in colonies, like giant millipedes).

Programmatic Information


Temperature Guidelines



Tips on Presentation

Touching Techniques

Tips on Handling


Potential Messaging

Acquisition Information


Comments from the Rating System

Natural History Information

Range and Habitat

Geese can be found worldwide. They can adapt equally well to hot climates (as long as shade is provided) as to cold climates – as seen in their ability to withstand cold northern winters with the minimum of shelter. In spite of this broad adaptability, there is little commercial goose production.

Physical Description

There are many breeds of goose, and each look slightly different.

There is the only one breed of goose that can be sexed by color: the Pilgrim goose. Males are all white with blue eyes, and females are pale grey with some white on their heads and brown eyes. Beaks and feet of both sexes are orange, not pinkish. The Pilgrim goose is a medium weight goose, weighing between 12 and 16 pounds when fully grown. Generally, the males weigh about 14 pounds and the females weigh about 13 pounds.

Life Cycle

Geese are seasonal breeders, and become more sexually active under increasing hours of daylight. Laying season lasts for approximately four months.
Geese can live 14 to 30 years.


Different breeds of geese will have different behavioral traits. Pilgrim geese, for example, are exceptionally calm, sweet-natured, and self-sufficient. Although they are much less aggressive than other breeds of geese, they can become protective of newly hatched goslings. They are very hardy birds with a strong urge to flock.

Threats and Conservation Status

As a species, the goose has no special conservation status. However, the American Livestock Breeds Conservancy lists several breeds of domestic goose as endangered.

Did you know…

  • The goose is very intelligent and has a good memory. It will not forget people, animals, or situations easily, which is what makes it such a good watch animal against intruders, whether human or animal.
  • There are two main types of domestic geese. One type is thought to originate in Europe, descended from the wild Greylag goose (Anser anser) and the other is thought to originate in Asia, descended from the wild Swan goose (Anser cygnoides.) Crosses between the domestic breeds from these two lines are fertile and have resulted in a number of recognized breeds.
  • Oscar Grow, a water fowl authority in the early 1900s, claims he developed the Pilgrim breed in Iowa. He says his wife named these geese after their relocation, or pilgrimage, from Iowa to Missouri during the Great Depression. The breed was first documented by the name “Pilgrim” in 1935.




Any Documents to attach, species spotlights, etc.

Contributors and Citations

  • The Philadelphia Zoo