You are sipping your tea in your garden, enjoying the morning sun, when you hear a splash in your pond. At first, you assume it’s just your koi fish. Then you see something stir and almost drop your mug as two curious eyes peer out of the grass surrounding your pond to stare at you.
Congratulations, it looks like a terrapin has found its way to your pond!
How did it end up there?
There are many reasons why you could end up with a terrapin in your pond.
One reason is that they are attracted to the warmth of your home.
Another reason is that they may have been dumped in your pond by someone who didn’t realize that they were bringing a living creature into your home.
Another common reason is that your pond was built too close to the edge of a road. Because of this, cars driving past your house can knock over any terrapins that happen to be crossing the road.
What to do if you find a terrapin in your pond
Don’t get scared
Terrapins are pretty harmless creatures. Although they’re usually shy and quiet, they are actually very friendly animals. They enjoy playing with children and love to eat worms—in fact, terrapins are known to eat up to 50% of their own weight every day.
Since their dietary preferences don’t include humans, the very first thing to do is to regain your composure and approach the little guy. Carefully.
Terrapins are very sensitive animals that can get easily frightened. They’ll often retreat into their shells and become completely motionless. This is why it’s important to approach them slowly and calmly.
Once you have approached the terrapin in your pond, try to gently pick it up with one hand so that you can check to see if it has any injuries. If it does, then you should contact your vet or local wildlife rehabilitator immediately.
Protect the eggs
Terrapins tend to lay their eggs during the spring and summer months.
If the terrapin in your pond is healthy and you spot any eggs nearby, protect them from predators such as raccoons, cats, dogs, birds of prey, snakes, and other reptiles.
To keep these predators away, you can use a variety of deterrents including:
- A plastic bag filled with water
- A piece of wood placed near the nest
- An electric fence
- A dog crate
- A snake trap
- A bell
In addition, you can place a sign at the entrance of the area where the eggs are located so that people know not to disturb them.
Contact a vet or animal rescue
If you need assistance, be sure to read our complete handbook on everything you need to know about looking after your very own pet terrapin.
Also, contact your local wildlife rehabilitators or animal rescue organizations. These groups may be able to provide you with further information regarding how to care for the terrapin once it has been rescued.
Do not throw them into a pond or river
Turtles cannot swim and therefore they will drown if thrown into a body of water. Terrapins, on the other hand, can swim quite well. Even so, you should never release them into the nearest river or pond!
Terrapins are not native to the UK and some experts worry they may upset our country’s delicate ecosystem by disrupting fragile ecological balances and displacing other species from their habitats.
In fact, that is why trading terrapins is illegal in the UK, and you risk being fined by releasing them. It is also unfair to the terrapins, who will have to survive in an environment that is not ideal for them.
How terrapins affect your pond
To help your new friend survive, you will need to either bring him inside or let him stay in your backyard.
If you choose to let the terrapin stay in your pond, remember that terrapins may cause problems if they’re allowed to build up large populations in your pond.
For example, terrapins can eat plants and algae which can lead to an increase in plant growth. As a result, the vegetation around your pond can grow thick and dense. This can make it difficult for fish to find food and oxygen.
Additionally, terrapins can also eat small invertebrates such as snails, insects, and even frogs. When they eat these types of creatures, they can leave behind waste material that can clog your pond’s filter system.
Finally, terrapins can sometimes dig holes in the bottom of your pond. This can disrupt the flow of water and it can prevent oxygen from reaching the fish.
Controlling your terrapins
To help control any terrapin in your pond, you can add some type of barrier between your pond and your house. For example, you could install a metal grate over the top of your pond. You can also purchase a terrapin-proof pond liner.
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You might also consider purchasing a terrapin trap. These traps work by attracting the terrapins to a specific location. Once there, the trap closes and prevents them from leaving. You can then move it indoors to keep them safe.
If you notice that your terrapins are becoming aggressive towards each other, then you should remove one of the two individuals. This will allow both of them to get along better.
Tips for a healthy winter pond
Terrapins love warm weather; something that Britain is not famous for.
Now that we’ve covered what to do when you encounter a terrapin in your pond, let’s take a look at some tips for keeping your winter pond healthy during this cold weather season.
- First, you’ll need to ensure that they have plenty of space to move around. To do this, you’ll need to provide them with a deep enough pool of water.
- Second, be sure to check your filters regularly. If you notice any signs of blockage or damage, you’ll need to replace the filter media immediately.
- Third, remember to clean out the skimmer basket regularly. This will help to keep your pond free of debris.
- Fourth, avoid adding too much fertilizer to your pond. Too much fertilizer can lead to algae blooms.
- Fifth, be careful not to disturb the natural balance of your pond. Doing so can upset the ecosystem and it may affect the health of your fish.
- Sixth, be sure to maintain proper lighting levels. A lack of light can lead to algae blooming in your pond.
- Seventh, be sure to monitor your water temperature. If it gets too cold, your terrapins can suffer.
If you follow these steps, you’ll be able to enjoy a healthy winter pond throughout the upcoming months!
Do I need to shut down the whole pond in winter?
If you live in an area where temperatures drop below freezing, you’ll need to close off your pond. Otherwise, you run the risk of having ice build up on the surface of your pond. This could result in a cracked pond liner.
You can bring the terrapin into your house, but you’ll need to buy some basic terrapin equipment that probably includes a glass tank.
- Tartarium 60 Turtle Terrapin Reptile Glass Tank with Ramp
- The tartarium 60, terrarium glass, is equipped with supports and dry zone in high quality white plastic with high gloss finish and a clear plastic lid for the rest of your turtle and for optimal exposure to heat, essential to their well-being and growth. Plastic supports; Plastic RAMP; Lid with clear plastic to prevent the turtle jump. Lid above ramp only, full lid not included or supplied.
- Aquarium Dimensions L60 x W29.6x H19.5 cm RAMP Dimensions L22.5 x W13 x H15.7 cm Black on ramp & decor is for illustration purposes only.
How long does it take to freeze my pond?
The length of time it takes for your pond to freeze depends on several factors:
- First, the size of your pond plays a role. Smaller ponds tend to freeze faster than larger ones.
- Second, the depth of your pond has an impact as well. Ponds that are deeper freeze more slowly than those that are shallower.
- Finally, the amount of sunlight that reaches your pond also affects how fast it freezes.
What happens if I leave my pond open in winter?
If your pond isn’t closed off properly, there’s a chance that it could leak.
This would mean that you’d lose valuable water from your pond. In addition, you could end up with frozen pipes.
Should I use a heating pad to warm my pond?
You should use a heater rather than a heating pad to heat your pond. Heaters work by circulating air through the water. They’re designed to prevent the build-up of ice on the surface of your water.
- You are purchasing a high quality pond heater available in a choice of 150w, 300w and 600w models.
- These pond heaters are a perfect way to protect your fish over the winter, by preventing the surface of the water from freezing, allowing harmful gases and toxins to be exchanged at the surface of the pond.
- These heaters come complete with a floating ring, allowing the heater to float, and a 5 meter cable, with 3 pin UK plug.
Is it safe to store my pond during the winter?
Yes, it is perfectly safe to store your pond during the winter. Just be sure to drain it completely before doing so. Move your terrapins indoors and place them in a terrarium if necessary.
How often should I change the filter media in my pond?
It’s important to change the filter media at least once every month.
The reason why you need to do this is that the media eventually becomes saturated with organic matter. When this occurs, it will clog up the pores of the filter material. This will reduce its ability to remove impurities from your water.
How do I clean out the gravel bed in my pond?
To keep your pond looking great year-round, you’ll want to regularly clean out the gravel bed.
You can do this using a garden rake or shovel. Simply scoop out any debris and then replace the gravel back into place.
How much light should I provide for my terrapins?
When it comes to providing light for your terrapins, you have two options: natural lighting and artificial lighting.
Natural lighting refers to the sun shining directly onto your pond. Artificial lighting refers to lights that shine directly on your pond.
Natural lighting is best for small ponds. It provides enough light for your terrapins without causing them stress. However, it won’t last all day. As soon as the sun sets, your terrapins will no longer receive the necessary amount of light.
Artificial lighting is ideal for large ponds. It allows you to maintain a constant level of light throughout the entire day.
An important step in keeping your pond healthy is to aerate it.
Aeration involves removing sediment from the bottom of your pond. Sediment collects over time. It can cause problems such as algae blooms. To ensure that your pond stays clear, you’ll need to aerate it periodically.
There are many ways to aerate your pond. One way is to use a siphon pump. A siphon pump works by sucking water out of the pond and replacing it with fresh water.
Another option is to use an air stone. An air stone uses compressed air to push water out of the pond. Both methods are effective.
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You can use a deicer when temperatures drop below freezing.
Deicing prevents the formation of ice on your pond. If you don’t use a deicer, ice may form on your pond. Ice can damage your pond’s structure and make it difficult for terrapins to breathe.
- Ideal for keeping a small hole opening the ice during cold winter months
- Ensures proper gas exchange; helps prevent winter fish loss and increases oxygen levels
- Energy efficient design helps keep down operation cost
Finding a Terrapin in Your Pond
Terrapins are aquatic reptiles that live in freshwater ponds. They spend most of their time buried under the mud at the bottom of the pond. However, they come out of the ground during the summer months to bask in the sun.
If you find a terrapin in your pond, then congratulations: you have a new friend!
If you wish to adopt him, follow the tips above and you will enjoy each other’s company for years. For more tips on taking care of your terrapin, read our free terrapin guide or subscribe and download the Complete Turtle & Terrapin Guide Book: