How to Get Rid of Turtles in a Pond

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Video catching snapping turtles

Turtles might be seemingly harmless little creatures, but don’t let their slow movements fool you. These creatures can wreak some serious havoc in your pond.

In general, turtles in a pond are not a pleasant experience, and they can present dangers and issues you may never have considered before. That being said, if you catch a glimpse of turtles in your pond, then you should consider creating a plan to remove them as soon as possible.

To help you get started, let’s break down the potential issues turtles can cause inside your pond, as well as a few methods you can use to safely and humanely remove them from your pond.

The Good and the Bad of Turtles in a Pond

Turtles play a part in ecological balance. They are omnivorous. They eat dead animals, plant matter, and even sick fish, so having them around can potentially improve the quality of your pond water. However, these minor gains are far outweighed by the problems they can cause.

Turtles are natural scavengers. They will locate the fish in your pond and feed on their eggs, as well as their food. Turtles are also known to eat live fish (which can be a problem if your pond has goldfish, koi, or other ornamental fish) and will even consume aquatic plants you cultivate. Because of this, a surge in the turtle population of your pond can quickly deplete your pond of fish, plants, and every other thing (living or dead) within a short period.

Snapping turtles are especially problematic as they can be aggressive if provoked and can even transmit diseases (like salmonella) to humans.

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How to Get Rid of Turtles in a Pond

1. Trapping turtles

The most efficient way to remove turtles from a pond is to trap them. The type of trap you use will depend on the kind of turtle you’re dealing with. In most cases, you can use a submerged turtle trap for a pond or a floating turtle trap. The former is the most effective method for snapping turtles and soft-shell turtles, while the latter works best on red-eared sliders and other turtles that lay in the sun.

You will need to take particular care to catch turtles in a pond with a submerged trap. Here are some tips on how to do it right:

  • You should set the trap in shallow water, so choose an area shallow enough for only the top of the trap sticks to be above the water
  • Dig into the mud just below the water, creating a hole in which the trap will snugly fit, and then push the trap in until it’s secure
  • For turtle bait, you can use lettuce, worms, vegetables, or even a can of tuna with holes punched in it
  • You should scout out the location where you believe the turtles live. If you have seen them congregate by a rocky section in a nearby pond, this is probably the best place to put your trap.

2. Manual removal

Another way to get turtles out of a pond is with your own two hands. If you have a medium-sized pond, you can catch turtles in a pond with a net. To do so, you will need a telescoping pond net to scoop the turtles out of the pond.

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As another option, you can use a hook and line to remove snapping turtles. This method can be time-consuming, but effective. Similar to fishing, this process would require you to attach a treble hook to a line, and bait the hook with pieces of fish or meat. Tie the string or fishing line to a tree or root and completely submerge the hook in the water.

3. Call a professional

As a final method, you can always call a professional turtle removal service. These experts will know the best way to get rid of turtles in your pond and will have the right tools, insight, and knowledge to complete the task efficiently and legally.

Relocating Turtles

Once you capture the turtles, you’ll need to relocate them. There may also be laws that protect certain turtle species. That is why relocating your captured foe is the best option.

You should contact your local conservation or the Department of Wildlife to inform them of your plans and to seek legal advice.

Keep in mind, putting new turtles in a specific location may increase competition for scarce food resources. It is also possible that the turtles you capture may have a disease, and if you move them to a new location, they will spread it among a new population of turtles.

Whichever method you use to capture pond turtles, you should never handle these creatures without proper protective gear. Even if the turtle is in a cage, you should wear protective gloves to avoid direct contact with it.

How to Keep Turtles Out of Your Pond

1. Yard fence

Fencing your property will keep turtles and other predators off of your property and away from your pond. While this is a highly effective method of turtle control, it can be costly.

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2. Perimeter fence

Putting up a small one-to-two-foot-high barrier around your pond may help prevent turtles from getting into it. This is a less costly option, but it can ruin the aesthetic value of your pond.

3. Pond netting

Placing a mesh pond net over your pond is an inexpensive and effective way to protect your pond from turtle intrusions. This is certainly the least expensive option of the three. It is possible to find a pond net that is barely visible, thus helping you preserve the aesthetic value of your water space.

The Bottom Line: How to remove turtles from ponds

Although turtles can enhance the look of your pond and even contribute to the quality of the water, the harm caused by their presence outweighs any good they might do.

At the same time, however, attempting to hunt down and remove each turtle one by one might be an unnecessary and inefficient way of removing turtles from your pond. And it is important to remember that any attempt to kill these creatures may put you on the wrong side of the law. Always review the rules and regulations regarding turtle capture and removal for your area.

In general, it is much better to capture turtles with traps or consult with a professional. Companies with expertise and experience in this field can help you get rid of turtles in your pond quickly, safely, and humanely.

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Ethan Smith is a seasoned marine veteran, professional blogger, witty and edgy writer, and an avid hunter. He spent a great deal of his childhood years around the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest in Arizona. Watching active hunters practise their craft initiated him into the world of hunting and rubrics of outdoor life. He also honed his writing skills by sharing his outdoor experiences with fellow schoolmates through their high school’s magazine. Further along the way, the US Marine Corps got wind of his excellent combination of skills and sought to put them into good use by employing him as a combat correspondent. He now shares his income from this prestigious job with his wife and one kid. Read more >>