Turtles swimming around in a pond are just adorable. They provide a change of scenery and some biodiversity in such a closed ecosystem. On the flip side, they can become a nuisance and a source of danger.
Turtles are omnivorous scavengers, which means they can very well eat fish and fish eggs. Snapping turtles can cause bodily harm if they bite children or pets. Turtles are also known to transmit diseases, like salmonella, to humans. So what can you do about it?
You can learn how to get rid of turtles in your pond directly and efficiently. The process can take a few minutes or a couple of days depending on the number of turtles. But in the end, your pond will be safer for the fish inside and the humans around it.
Turtles are mostly harmless little creatures. They look quite nice in a pond and offer a little more visual intrigue than having only fish swimming around.
Aside from being cute, turtles also have a job to do in your pond. They feed on overgrown weeds, catch insects, and prey on sick or weak fish. They can also eat dead fish before they decompose, releasing harmful bacteria into the water.
The effect of pond turtles is minimal on the ecosystem of your pond. If left alone, they don’t pose a threat to the fish or wildlife in the area. Turtles might actually improve the water quality and make the pond more hospitable for the fish.
That said, they aren’t without their disadvantages.
Having pond turtles isn’t all fun and games. Sometimes, they compete with your fish for the available resources and can eat some of the fish feed. They can also do some serious damage to rare aquatic plants as they don’t know the difference between a plant and a weed.
Not all pond turtles are created equal. For instance, snapping turtles have a knack for attacking humans or small animals, like pets. Their bites are incredibly painful and can get infected if not treated properly.
Moreover, some turtles can infect humans with salmonella. The symptoms include abdominal pain, nausea, and vomiting. If you suspect an infection after handling a turtle, it very well might have been the cause.
There’s also the problem of overpopulation you can face if a turtle makes a nest near your pond. Let’s discuss this in detail:
The short answer is yes. Ponds are relatively limited ecosystems, so if the pond has a large number of turtles, it will run out of food pretty fast.
Turtles are omnivorous creatures that can eat both plants and animals. In regular circumstances, turtles prefer eating underwater plants, insects, and maybe sick or dead fish. They also enjoy fish food and can scavenge for fish eggs.
Therein lies the problem; if your pond has too many turtles, you might notice a sharp decline in the fish population. Since the turtles and the fish will be competing for the same space and resources, the fish are the weaker link and will lose out.
Many different freshwater turtle species can live in ponds. Each of them has its mating habits, but most of them have similar egg-laying behaviors.
Pond turtles don’t lay their eggs in pond water. Instead, they migrate to a nearby dry, preferably sandy, area and dig a hole to nest in. After they lay the eggs in the hole, they move back to the water and wait for the eggs to hatch.
A few months later, the clutch of eggs should hatch, spawning about 25 small turtles. The hatchlings then make their way back to the nearest body of freshwater.
It’s no secret that turtles live for a long time. However, not all turtle species can break the 100+ years milestone like land tortoises often do.
Pond turtles can easily live longer than a decade but it depends on which species you have. Here’s a summary of some of the most common pond turtle species and their life expectancies:
- Common Map Turtle: 15 to 100 years
- Bog Turtle: 20 – 30 years
- Slider Turtle (Red-Eared & Yellow-Bellied): 20 – 30 years
- Box Turtle: 25 – 35 years
- Spotted Turtle: 25 – 50 years
- Cooter Turtle: 40+ years
- European Pond Turtle: 40 – 60 years
- Musk Turtle: 40 – 60 years
- Wood Turtle: Up to 50 years
- Painted Turtle: Up to 50 years
- Western Pond Turtle: 50 – 70 years
- Snapping Turtle: Over 100 years
The decision to get rid of turtles in your pond depends on their number, the size of your pond, and the turtle species.
In most cases, you shouldn’t worry too much about having the turtles around. They should keep to themselves and not bother your fish, and they can make your pond cleaner and tidier.
That said, if you’re scared your pond will be taken over by turtles, you should consider getting rid of them before they reproduce. A single clutch of turtle eggs can hatch up to 25 turtles, and they’re usually more carnivorous than adults.
It’s also less complicated to trap and release one or two adult turtles than trying to catch 20+ small ones. So, should you decide to get rid of the turtles in your pond, read the following guide.
Getting rid of the turtles in your pond should be a pretty straightforward job. There are two steps to the process:
- Trapping the turtles.
- Relocating the turtles.
Let’s go over each of them in detail.
You can trap the turtles in your pond using an active or passive method. This depends on how many turtles you have and whether they’re hanging around the pond’s perimeter or under the water’s surface.
The most important thing to remember is to always wear gloves and personal protective equipment. Turtles carry and transmit diseases, so handling them bare-handed can put you in a lot of trouble.
Here are your options for catching pond turtles:
The first and simplest way to catch a turtle in your pond is to use a telescoping pond skimming net. The advantage of such a tool is the long handle that allows you to trap the turtle when you see it even if it’s away from you.
This method will only work if you have a small or medium-sized backyard pond. It also makes more sense to use the pond net if you have just a couple of turtles to catch.
The next option you have is to bait the turtles and catch them using a normal fishing hook and line. You can use this method as a passive trap by putting bait on the hook and encasing it inside an empty can.
To set this up, you’ll need an aluminum can of the appropriate size to house the bait and hook. Just open the can completely on one side and punch a hole through the other end. Thread the line through the hole and place the hook and bait inside the can.
Secure the fishing line to a nearby tree, shrub, or rock. Then, you can place the apparatus near the area where you usually see the turtles.
Lastly, you can catch the turtles by placing traps around your pond with food inside to entice the turtles. These traps can be found online, all you have to do is set them up.
If you’re catching a snapping turtle or soft-shelled turtle, use a submersible trap. If your target is a slider turtle or another type that likes to bask in the sun, then use a floating trap.
Now that you’ve successfully caught all the turtles, relocating them is the next step. We wish it were as easy as driving to the nearest stream and letting them loose, but unfortunately, it’s not.
Turtles can become an invasive species in some areas if the circumstances allow. On the other hand, they can face mortal danger if their predators are abundant where you drop them off. They can also transmit diseases to an area where the turtle population is vulnerable.
Your best bet is to call your local conservation office, which usually follows the Department of Wildlife. They’ll be able to tell you where to let the turtles go, or whether you need to hand them over to the local ASPCA.
Avoid harming or killing the turtles at all costs. Some turtle species are endangered and you could be committing a criminal offense.
If all of this sounds like too much work and you’d rather prevent than cure a pond turtle situation, you have several options.
- Pond Net: This is the cheapest and most effective option you have. Covering the pond can prevent turtles, frogs, and other nuisance animals from jumping in.
For those worried about aesthetics, there are plenty of options on the market that are almost invisible. They’re made of heavy-duty materials that withstand exposure and the teeth of a snapping turtle chewing through them.
- Pond Fence: Similar to a pond net, a fence goes around the pond’s perimeter, walling it off from unwanted visitors. It’s a less-attractive option, but should make fishing and cleaning the pond much easier than a pond net.
- Backyard Fence: If you have a small yard this might be a good option to consider. It should also keep out other animals, like deer, raccoons, and possums. So, you’ll be taking care of your yard and your pond at the same time.
Learning how to get rid of turtles in a pond can help you protect the fish and aquatic plants you’ve worked so hard to keep. While cute and seemingly harmless, turtles can be quite the opposite.
They pose some risk to the well-being of your pond’s ecosystem and can even transmit diseases to humans who interact with them. That’s why you should keep an eye out for the problem before it even begins.
Ben has a bachelor’s degree in construction engineering. When not constructing or remodeling X-Ray Rooms, Cardiovascular Labs, and Pharmacies, you can find him at home with wife and two daughters. Outside of family, He loves grilling and barbequing on his Big Green Egg and Blackstone Griddle, as well as working on projects around the house.
If you want more backyard tips including recipes, how-tos and more, make sure you subscribe to my youtube channel