We have built two ponds in our garden to house the hardier species of terrapin that can survive outside hibernation. If anyone is interested in doing this, I would like to point out that you would still need to allow time for cleaning and maintenance of the pond.
With this in mind it would still be great if you did decide to take the plunge and build a terrapin pond of your own – there’s so many that need rehoming for a variety of reasons and the more people that get involved, the more terrapins we can help.
We have a pond, which is 18 foot long by 9 foot wide, with a maximum depth of 18 inches in the centre and getting shallower towards the edges, eventually going to dry land so that the terrapins can walk out if need be when they come out of hibernation.
We have two large Green Genie filters and two pumps – one at either end and each with a 25w UV bulb built in. The bulbs are replaced every twelve months
In the bottom of the pond, at the deepest point, we have plastic crates with the ends/fronts cut out where the terrapins can go down into them and as the weather gets colder they hibernate in them.
We have logs running across the pond on the width in three areas and the terrapins use them for basking, we’ve also installed some steps made from engineering bricks around the side of the pond to make getting into the garden a little easier for those terrapins that fancy a wander on dry land.
The garden is fully enclosed and the sheds are blocked off underneath so the terrapins can’t hide under them. We have also attached mesh to the back of the gate – no escapees here.
All the logs used are from fruit trees to prevent any poisonous sap entering the pond ecosystem – you can use any fruit tree, ours are from a cherry tree.
Talking of trees, make sure you choose the site of your pond wisely and avoid any overhanging trees as you’ll end up with falling leaves clogging up your pump. Not good.
Both ponds were treated with pond salts at the time of set up (1 tsp per gallon of water) and we will repeat the treatment with half a dose once a year (1/2 tsp per gallon per annum). There’s two benefits of doing this – if any terrapins get a cut or broken skin, the salt acts as an antiseptic and the salt also helps to prevent the pond from freezing in the winter
I would like to point out that the cost of setting up the ponds and day to day running expenses are quite high. We leave our ponds switched on 365 days a year so, in total, we have three Green Genie Filters with UV lights, three pumps and one waterfall – running costs have to be a consideration we estimate our running cost to be approx £400 per year for electricity.
If any of you think this is something you could do, even a small pond, it would be wonderful. We have over 30 terrapins now and can’t really take more at the moment, because the water will become adulterated, even with our large filter system.
Our ponds come out onto the lawn so the terrapins can go for a walk and they have no natural predators in this country to worry about. We have a dog who has grown up around the terrapins but he is never left unsupervised with them.