Posted on September 24, 2010 by thepondguy
I’ve heard a lot about snapping turtles. Are they good for a pond or should just remove them? George – Duck, NC
Ponds tend to attract all types of creatures to your yard, some more desirable than others. With their large claws and strong jaws, snapping turtles may make the list of animals you don’t want in your pond. It all really boils down to why you dug your pond in the first place and how you spend your time enjoying it.
The snapping turtle is the largest turtle in the United States, living 30 years on average, their shells growing to around 15 inches, and normally reaching weights of 10 to 35 pounds. The largest common snapping turtle on record being nearly 20 inches long and weighing 86 pounds. It is believed some species of snapping turtles can live up to 150 years with some reports of snappers have been found with musket rounds lodged inside them from the American Civil War.
Snapping turtles tend to inhabit the shallow areas of your pond and will feed off of both plants and animals limited only to what they can fit in their mouths. If you have prized fish or encourage Geese and Ducks to raise hatchlings in your pond you may find snapping turtles to be a major inconvenience. These turtles rarely surface in the pond to bask in the sun and instead are commonly found buried at the bottom of the pond with only their head exposed. Because they are too big to actually hide inside their shell the snapping turtle relies on his sharp beak-like mouth for protection. Their neck is extremely flexible and is able to reach over their shells to protect their hind legs and tail. While their size and power may be intimidating they are not usually aggressive in the water. Rather than attack and bite potential threats they prefer to swim away and hide. That being said, there is no guarantee that you won’t accidentally provoke one of these snappers. If you swim in your pond you may not want to keep the snappers around.
If you have a natural pond and have no intentions of swimming or any special attachment to particular fish or frogs in the water there is no reason why these turtles can’t be a part of the scenery. They can help balance fish populations and are absolutely amazing to look at if you can spot a large one moving around your pond. If you decide that they need to find a new home you can remove them by installing a Turtle Trap. You can bait the trap with fish or meat from your home and place the trap in the shallow areas of your pond. You don’t want the turtle to drown so keep the top of the cage exposed and out of the water. When you catch a turtle be sure to use thick working gloves to protect your hands from potential bites or scratches. Pull the cage from the pond and transport the turtle to another location. As they are known to travel far distances over land you will want to relocate them a few miles away from your pond or they may find their way back. Never try to catch snapping turtles using hooks as they tend to swallow food whole. If they ingest a hook you will be unable to remove it and possibly injure the turtle.
POND TALK: Did you find snapping turtles in your pond? Do you love them or hate them and why?
Filed under: Pond & Lake, Predator Control, Turtles | Tagged: Fish Population, Snapping Turtles, turtles | 40 Comments »
Posted on September 24, 2010 by thepondguy
Should I vacuum my pond? Heather – Landfall, MN
Regular pond maintenance throughout the ponding season ensures clean clear water. An extremely lucky few may find themselves in a scenario where their pond is perfectly balanced with no debris blowing into the pond and no layer of muck developing at the bottom of their water feature. Then there are the rest of us who deal with slimy gravel or decomposing leaves and fish waste yucking up our ponds. Pond vacuums are a handy tool to make pond cleaning manageable and easy by physically removing hard to reach muck and debris from within the pond without bending or scrubbing.
While there are a number of vacuums available for purchase, the best type for you will depend on the size and type of pond you are trying to clean and what you are trying to clean out of it. If you have a small pre-formed pond or a fountain that you need to remove debris from then a small water-driven vacuum may be the perfect fit. An example of this type of vacuum is the Laguna Pond Vacuum Kit which consists of a water-driven vacuum head and hydro brush attachment. Water-driven pond vacuums attach to your garden hose and use the water flow to create suction. A mesh net placed behind the vacuum is used to catch debris.
If you are looking to clean out fine silt-like debris or have a large water feature you would be better suited with a motor driven Pond-O-Vac IV or Pond-O-Matic XL. These pond vacuums plug into a standard 110 volt power outlet and use a motor to create suction. These types of pond vacuums carry water and debris through the vacuum hose and into a reservoir which can then be discharged outside of the pond through a drain hose. Both vacuums come with extension handles and a full arsenal of attachments to clean hard to reach areas of the pond. The Pond-O-Vac IV’s dual chamber system, rugged wheels, and powerful motor make it the ideal vacuum for those of you with large water features as it is easier to maneuver than the Pond-O-Matic. The dual collection chambers cut your cleaning time as the vacuum never has to shut off to discharge. Once one collection chamber fills the vacuum switches to the empty chamber and continues to work, emptying the filled chamber in the process. If you have gravel or stones at the bottom of your water feature using one of the vacuums smaller attachments will keep you from sucking up stones along with your muck. If the bottom of your pond consists of dirt or fine pea gravel you will find yourself spending more time cleaning dirt and gravel from your pond than muck and debris. You may want to consider implementing a different substrate material or just focus on using Muck Defense bacteria to help digest bottom dwelling debris.
POND TALK: Do you use a pond vacuum to maintain your pond? Which one did you decide to use?
Filed under: Pond Vacuums, Seasonal Care, Water Gardens & Features, WG-Winterizing | Tagged: Muck Defense, Pond-O-Vac IV, prepare for winter, water garden winterizing, winterizing | 5 Comments »