Pond Turtle FAQ: 18 Things to Know

Do you have a pond in your backyard? If so, then it’s very likely that you’re already living next to the perfect home for a turtle.

Pond turtles are one of the best pets to keep if you want something low-maintenance and easy to care for. They’re also an excellent option if you live near water or don’t have much space in your home.

In this blog post, we’ll answer 18 questions about these fascinating creatures!

What Kind of Turtles Are in Ponds?

Assuming that you don’t add any turtles in your pond personally, it should attract any of the native species that are common in your area. That normally means snappers, sliders, and mud turtles but it could also attract box turtles and even soft shells depending on where you live.

Are Pond Turtles Good Pets?

Since they’re at least somewhat self-sufficient and normally keep their own habitats clean, pond turtles can make great pets. You’ll still need to devote time and care to them, but they’re actually quite independent as long as you provide the right kind of feeding environment for them.

What Turtles Are Best for a Pond?

Nearly any turtle that you can keep inside in an enclosure can be moved to a pond, as these species will demonstrate:

1. Red-eared Sliders

These are among the most popular pet turtles of any kind and they grow quite quickly. They’re comfortable in fresh water and are so durable they’ve even become an invasive species in some climates!

2. Painted Turtle

Since they’re native to many places in North America, painted turtles thrive in a variety of environments. You can easily offer them aquatic plants and feeder fish without much difficulty.

3. Common Snapper

This animal is so durable, it might very well be what you think of when you hear the word turtle. They’re easy to feed off commercially prepared turtle food, but you can also give them a natural diet of worms and crayfish.

4. Common Mud Turtle

Having become popular with turtle enthusiasts, the common or Eastern mud is rather small and only grows to around four inches long. That makes it a good fit for ponds that can’t fit larger animals.

5. Pond Terrapin

Those looking for a more exotic option may be interested in this European turtle, which can grow up to more than a foot long. They’re able to thrive on such a wide variety of foods that you shouldn’t have any difficulty keeping them fed.

What Does a Pond Turtle Eat?

Most species kept as pond turtles are omnivorous, so they’ll eat aquatic plants, insects, worms, and feeder fish. Some people use special blends of cat food and even commercially prepared turtle cuisine for their animals.

Can You Keep a Turtle in a Pond?

Considering that many species of turtles naturally live in ponds, they tend to thrive in them. Enthusiasts often build dedicated areas designed to keep their turtles outside.

Are Turtles Bad for a Pond?

While turtles can actually help keep a pond clean, they’ll also defecate so you need to strain the water. Dedicated turtle ponds normally have a filtration system for this reason.

Do Pond Turtles Bite?

Snapping turtles, as their name suggests, will bite fairly hard if you don’t know the right way to handle them. If you don’t know the species of a turtle, then treat it as a potential biter.

Can Turtles Live With Fish?

Many turtles make good pond mates for fish as long as they’re large enough. Any fish that’s smaller than a turtle is a potential snack for them.

You may consider growing a colony of feeder fish for your turtle, however, who will grow and provide food over time.

Can Turtles Survive Winter in a Pond?

Depending on where you live, your turtles can hibernate in your pond over winter, but you need to make it deep enough. Dig far enough down so that some areas have 3-4′ of water in them at least for your turtles to rest even if it gets icy in them.

How Deep Should a Turtle Pond Be?

Generally, there should be some areas that are at least three feet in depth. You’ll need additional areas that are even deeper if you plan on allowing your turtles to weather the winter outside.

How Can I Make a Cheap Turtle Pond?

Measure out an area where you can put in at least 250 gallons or so of water and then follow these steps:

  1. Dig at least one end of the designated area deeper than the others
  2. Make it at least three feet in depth
  3. Lay a perimeter area out to keep hungry animals away from your turtles
  4. Build a wall using reclaimed materials around the perimeter that has at least a 12″ edge
  5. Clean out the excavated area and put in a liner of reclaimed material
  6. Fill the pond area with water until the level rises
  7. String fishing line over the pond to keep out predatory birds
  8. Add inexpensive aquatic plants to provide a renewable source of food
  9. Put in small amounts of prepared food – you don’t have to spend a lot because many turtles will be comfortable eating various things
  10. Strain the water to make sure there’s no foreign material in it – do this by hand to save money
  11. Introduce the turtles to the pond slowly
  12. Monitor them closely for the first few days
  13. Adjust the height of any of the pond’s accouterments to deter predators
  14. Use any removed water for plants, since it’s high in nitrates
  15. Increase the water supply as you remove it, especially if you’re operating your pond without a filter

What Food Kills Turtles?

While turtles can eat many things, a few plants are potentially quite toxic:

  • Carolina Jessamine
  • Avocado leaves
  • Asparagus ferns
  • Avocado plant pits
  • Rhododendrons
  • Amaryllis
  • Bird of Paradise shrubs

How Many Babies Do Pond Turtles Have?

Normally, turtles lay between 80-100 eggs in a clutch. Relatively few of these will ever become turtles, however, and some might be eaten by other animals.

How Long Do Pond Turtles Live?

Assuming you take good care of them, snapping turtles and related species can live for more than a century. Many turtles outlive their owners!

Will Turtles Eat Goldfish in a Pond?

Assuming that the goldfish are smaller than the turtles, they will indeed eat them. They’ll eat just about any living material they can get their mouths around.

Can a Pond Have Too Many Turtles?

Ponds should only have a few turtles unless they’re very large. Any pond that was 200 gallons could support maybe 3-5 fully grown mature turtles.

What Kills Turtles in a Pond?

Predatory birds and mammals, like coyotes, are probably the biggest culprits. Fertilizers and pesticides from nearby lawns may wash into them as well, which can be deadly to turtles.

Should You Remove Snapping Turtles from Pond?

You may want to remove them if they’re fighting with other turtles. Some enthusiasts actually prefer to raise colonies of snapping turtles, however.