• January 31, 2023
Water turtles in the garden pond

Can I keep turtles in a garden pond?

In zoos and pet shops, you can often see turtles being kept in the pond. With conventional garden ponds, however, this is a rarer picture.

It is an excellent alternative for the animals to spend the warm summer months outside. At the same time, it is a pleasure for you as a keeper to give your animals a proper “run.”

Security: fence & escape

First, when keeping turtles in the garden pond, make sure that they cannot escape. There are two reasons. On the one hand, the turtle is protected from being run over, starving, and freezing to death.

On the other hand, it also benefits our natural ecosystem. If a “house turtle” penetrated a natural pond, all beneficial insects and amphibian larvae would soon have disappeared, and they would have also damaged the pond plants.

A simple, small fence is not enough as a fence: sometimes turtles are real climbing artists. A smooth, opaque surface that reaches a height of 50cm is best.

Good examples are small walls, stones, or fortifications. Some owners also write their phone number on the turtle’s shell with a suitable, non-toxic pen. This way, you can be sure that the turtle can be brought back to you should it break out. 

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What do turtles need?

When building a pond, you must also consider that the turtle has different needs than a goldfish. Shallow water areas that are only up to 20 cm high are critical.

Here the water heats up quickly, which the turtle likes to enjoy all day long. Therefore, the shallow water zone should get as much sun as possible and occupy over 2/3 of the pond surface.

But a zone with deeper water is also required. It should have a depth of about one meter. It ensures that the temperature fluctuations do not become too great and is also a refuge when the turtles feel threatened.

Since turtles are cold-blooded, i.e., their body temperature equals the outside temperature, they love long sunbaths.

In addition to the shallow water zones, sunny spots are ideal here. It could be a stone or a small tree trunk that protrudes from the water.

If necessary, it can then quickly fall back into the water as soon as danger threatens. And should it be a cloudy summer, you can use a lamp, for example, an outdoor halogen spotlight, for more heat.

Climbing aids are essential for armored carriers, especially when it is colder. The pond liner may be too smooth so that you cannot cope with it on your own.

To help, you can create an exit with coconut fiber mats or a thin layer of concrete. These rough surfaces offer them enough pack.

If you want plants in your turtle pond, you have to remember that most turtles love to eat aquatic plants. They don’t stop at water lilies either.

One species that is less likely to attack plants is the European pond turtle. They can also use it to create a planted pond.

If you want to keep the turtles in the garden for more than just a few months, it is advisable to build a greenhouse over the pond (at least halfway).

It is where the warm air accumulates and even allows some species to hibernate. However, this is a particular case and requires a lot of specialist knowledge.

Other tips

The care of the animals in the pond is then not that difficult. Since they are partly self-sufficient by eating aquatic animals and plants, they only need to be fed hot.

In addition, you should regularly buy new aquatic plants if they are to serve as food (a turtle has a decent appetite). Feeding is also a great way to count animals.

In the pond, the armored lizards quickly become shy again because they are kept outside. That is why you should take the chance when you have everyone together.

The question is often asked whether turtles can be kept together with fish. The answer: yes and no! Short-finned fish such as goldfish or koi fish are relatively good, and it is more difficult with much smaller fish.

In addition, you can forget the cohesion with frogs and newts, as the lizards attack their young.

The main problem is the different pond demands: The shallow water zone, which the turtles need, is fatal for many fish, as it is much easier for cats and herons to catch a fish from the pond.

A final important point is a relocation from the aquarium to the pond. There is no clear answer to this question, as it always depends on the weather.

In general, the following applies: You should relocate the turtles when the garden pond has the same temperature as the pool where they live “indoors.” Then the new conversion is easiest.

Incidentally, the little ones should only be released from a length of approx. 10cm and then secure the pond with a net for protection.

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