Here’s What It Means if You See a Rubber Ducky on a Jeep

A brief history of the Duck, Duck, Jeep trend and how you can join this community of Jeep drivers by playing the lighthearted game

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Jeep is one of those brands that has a dedicated base of consumers who seem to be tethered to each other through a shared passion for Wranglers, Cherokees—and now Jeep ducks. The last item there isn’t a new car model, so what is it?

Over the past few years, this social-media-driven Jeep duck trend has unified Jeep owners while they are on road trips or just running errands around town—much like how cruise ducks have bonded cruisers together with an inside secret. Jeep ducks are not car gadgets that make driving safer, but the interesting facts about the Jeep duck movement could make driving your Jeep even more fun than it already is. You may even make a few new friends along the way!

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Why do people put rubber ducks on Jeeps?

At the heart of the Jeep ducks phenomenon is a desire to put a smile on someone’s face. Jeep owners leave rubber duckies on other Jeeps to surprise the owner. It’s an inside joke and a random act of kindness among fans of this beloved auto brand.

A custom that started after one Jeep owner felt unsafe and unwelcome, Jeep ducks are all about the opposite, making strangers and travelers feel like they are part of something bigger and kinder.

How did Jeep ducking start?

The movement now known as Jeep Ducking began in 2020, during the early days of COVID, in Ontario, Canada. After an ugly spat in a gas station parking lot, a Jeep owner named Allison Parliament needed to rely on a friend for a much-needed pit stop to calm down before continuing on the road.

To thank her friend, Parliament bought a bag of rubber duckies and hid them around his house as a joke before heading farther north into Canada to reach her family’s home. Before those ducks were scattered around an unsuspecting friend’s home, however, Parliament put a single yellow duck on a stranger’s Jeep in the store’s parking lot, with a simple, sweet note saying “nice Jeep.”

The owner of that Jeep saw her and laughed then suggested that she post about it on social media. She did, and that was the birth of a movement that now has more than 73,000 fans (and growing) on Facebook. How’s that for an answer to the eternal question, What is community? Parliament’s social media group is now the official Jeep duck account recognized by Jeep itself!

What should you do if you find a Jeep duck?

When you’re surprised by a duck on your Jeep, take a picture and post it on your social media channels with the #duckduckjeep hashtag. That way, other members of the Jeep duck community can find it, like it and comment on your gift. Then, put that duck on your dashboard as a badge of honor, and keep on waving to other Jeep owners you pass on the road. You may choose to keep the duck you were given or opt to pass that duck along to another Jeep driver.

What are the rules for Jeep ducking?

The only real rule of Jeep ducking is kindness. You can buy rubber duckies to keep in your Jeep, then randomly put them on other peoples’ Jeeps as you see fit. You can also re-gift one that was left for you.

Most commonly, Jeep ducks are placed just outside the driver’s side window, near the windshield wiper or in front of the inspection stickers, so the driver will easily see it before driving away. Maybe you will choose to leave a duck on a Wrangler because you like the color, or on a Grand Cherokee because it’s the exact same model as the one you drive. The choice for placing ducks is all yours, although some people who are into Jeep ducking like to color coordinate the duck to the Jeep or use seasonal ducks to match an upcoming holiday. In short, there are no concrete rules.

Jeep ducking is simple and sweet. Unlike spotting a boot on a fence, green porch lights shining in front of neighborhood homes, painted trees or dryer sheets in mailboxes, the Jeep duck trend isn’t an effort to spread awareness about a specific cause. 

Are Jeep ducks only for Wranglers?

It started out as a Wrangler thing, but Jeep ducking is no longer exclusive to that Jeep model. In fact, today, Jeep ducks might be found sitting atop Cherokees, Liberties, Compasses and every other model of vehicle baring the Jeep logo.

Drivers of other car brands are co-opting the duck trend as they place them on vehicles all over the globe too. We think any extra smiles are welcome, whether they come via a Jeep Cherokee or a Toyota Corolla, which consistently ranks as one of the best cars to buy.

Should you leave a note when Jeep ducking?

If you want to, absolutely. That very first Jeep duck that Parliament left for an unsuspecting car owner had a tiny note, and it quickly became one of the uplifting stories of neighbors connecting during COVID. But you don’t need to affix any message to rubber ducks while Jeep ducking.

If you do decide to write something, you may choose to briefly describe Jeep ducking to share this new tradition and grow the community. Or you can compliment the person’s Jeep or their funny bumper stickers, make a Jeep- or duck-related pun or simply leave a note of positivity along with the #duckduckjeep hashtag. You will be writing another chapter in the story of kindness.

What kinds of rubber ducks can you use when Jeep ducking?

Traditional two-inch rubber ducks that are perfect for bathtub playtime are also the preferred choice of Jeep owners leaving little surprises in parking lots around the world. You can opt for the classic yellow, get silly with a glittery Jeep duck or leave ducks dressed up as pirates, princesses, pets and superheroes—whichever duck quacks to you!

The Jeep company itself got in on the act recently at the North American International Auto Show. The company’s 8,000-pound, six-story-tall yellow duck was a big hit in Detroit, but the rubber ducks you can use to play Duck Duck Jeep are quite a bit smaller!

Get in on the Jeep duck fun


Jeff Bogle
Jeff Bogle is an Iris Award–winning photographer, avid traveler and English football fanatic who regularly covers travel, culture, cars, health, business, the environment and more for Reader's Digest. He is the proud dad of teen daughters.