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#1 Minotaur

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Posted 04 August 2006 - 11:55 PM

In response to my recent loss of my three much loved turtles, Minotaur, Sasquatch, and Little Italy, I would like to start a thread where people post the best ways they know of to prevent wild animals from raiding outdoor turtle enclosures. I do reallize there is a specific area for outdoor enclosures, but I feel that this is something that should be in the general area. (If a moderator feels otherwise, go ahead and move it...)

There are really a few specific animals you must keep your guard against. In my area it would be Racoons, Crows, and domestic dogs/cats. I think the best thing to start with, would be a short bio on each of these creatures before going into how to prevent their attacks.

First off, the Racoon. Racoons are one of the most intelligent predators you will come across, and will constantly amaze you with the tricks they employ to get their desired meal. Racoons can open latches, remove bungee cords, untie knots, scurry a short distance up sheer surfaces, and climb like crazy. Racoons have more determinations than the guy that sawed through his own arm to get out from under a boulder too. If a racoon cannot find it's way into an enclosed area by climbing the fence, they will search for a tree that has a branch hanging over the enclosure, and drop in from there. The biggest thing to remember with these guys is that they have fingers, and are about as intelligent as a toddler. Think of how many cupboard doors you have to zip-tie shut when you've got a toddler running around. Now imagine that the toddler is hungry and knows each of those cupboards contains food. That is a racoon.

The common crow is also known to be an EXTREMELY intelligent animal, studies have even proven that crows have the ability to count. While crows are not too dangerous to adult turtles (unless it's a small breed) they are known predators of hatchlings. Without fingers crows are slightly less apt to break into enclosures, but do actually have the ability, and intelligence, to open latches. While crows present a slight risk to hatchlings, they are not nearly as dangerous as racoons. On a side-note however, I will say the the most amazing feat I've ever witnessed in the animal kingdom was performed by crows. A red-tail hawk was attempting to steal a large piece of carrion that a group of crows was feeding on, when suddenly the murder of crows attacked the hawk mid-air, and within seconds, it was plummeting toward the ground. So while these creatures may not be as big of a concern as racoons are, they are still worth noting, if only for their cunning alone.

Domestic cats and dogs are an ever present danger to you pet turtles, but I will not go into much depth on these guys. Usually a fence about 4-5 feet high is enough to keep them out of your yard, and therefore I do not believe I need to spend much time on them.

Preventing attacks:

Live Traps: Providing a live trap with some strong-scented food is a good way to keep predators away from your turtles. Just remember to check them often so you dont end up with a poor racoon starved to death in a cage somewhere on your property, and ALWAYS take the animal several miles away to release it, so that it doesn't come back.

Fences: This is obvious, fences keep things out, that's what they're for. However, chain link fences will NOT keep out racoons, a wooden fence with sheer sides that is about 5 feet tall should do the trick though. Racoons can perform a short hop/scurry move that can actually bring them a decent distance up a sheer surface, so I wouldn't go much smaller than 5 feet. Also, trim away any branches that hang over the fence to prevent racoons from pulling their "Parachute behind enemy lines" trick. TurtlePimp pointed out in another thread that electric fences are an excellent deterent to predators, however, it may be a bit too pricey for most.

Locks: With racoons (and even crows sometimes) latches/bungee cords/weights are NOT ENOUGH to keep them out of your enclosure. Using a latch with a pad-lock is a much better option. If you're worried about losing the key put it on a length of wire and attach it to the gate (or lid). I can guarantee that racoons haven't figured out how to use keys yet.

Defense Animals: There are a few types of domestic animal that are VERY territorial, and will severely wound or kill any animal that enters the area. The most obvious is dogs. With little effort a dog can be taught to leave your turtles alone, and ANY dog will viciously attack a racoon on sight. Outside of dogs there are few options, in fact I can only think of one, which is very odd, and that is a billy-goat. Male goats are extremely territorial and will stomp, headbutt, and kill any animal they feel poses a threat. A goat wont attack your turtles, but I know from experience that they will brutally slaughter a racoon on sight.

Scare-crow: If you're truly worried about crows, put one of these boys up. Simple, effective, and actually kind of cool to look at.

Motion-activated spot-light: Many species of turtle are innactive at night, racoons on the other hand, are nocturnal. Putting a motion-activated light near the enclosure will basically scare the pants off any racoon that makes an attempt at the turtles, and probably wont go off due to turtle movement. Also, this could be useful if you ever need to go out and do something in the enclosure at night, so why not get one?

Natural cover: Turtles do a pretty decent job of surviving on their own in the wild, and while I wouldn't say that providing natural cover for your turtles should be your ONLY line of defense, I think it's a good back-up plan to have. Providing bushes or hollow logs for tortoises, and plenty of aquatic vegetation (fake or real) for aquatic turtles (or a sandy substrate for soft-shells) will give them someplace to hide from predators.

Things NOT to do:

Antifreeze poison: This is just a horrible thing all around. To most mammals, antifreeze smells and tastes like syrup, and is quite deadly. I commonly hear of people putting out a bowl of antifreeze to kill pest animals, but this is very inhumane, and has the potential to kill people's pets (cats/dogs LOVE the taste of antifreeze) and will attract and kill many non-harmful wild animals, such as woodchucks, mice, squirrels, etc.

"Shine" traps: These are traps where a narrow hole is drilled into a log, and a shiny object placed at the bottom of the hole. Then nails are driven into the log so that the point downward toward the object. It is well known that racoons LOVE shiny objects. What happens is that when the racoon sees the shiny thing, it will reach in the hole for it, grab it in its fist and then try to pull it out. However, now that the coon's fist is balled, it is too large to get past the nails, which tear up its hand and keep it stuck there. A racoon WILL NOT figure out that it needs to let go of the object to be free of the trap, and will actually sit there and stuggle for days, only to die of thirst with its bloody paw stuck in the tree trunk, and the shiny object still clenched in its furry little fist. This is inhumane. Don't do it.

Jaw-traps: I shouldn't have to explain that these are inhuman. There is also a high probability that you will capture and maim/kill someone's pet if you attempt to use these in an urban setting.


That's pretty much all I've got, I would love it if other people would post everything they know about preventing wild animal attacks. Bios on other dangerous animals and other tips, tricks, and no-no's for prevention would be great too. Thanks for reading, and protect your outdoor turtles!

#2 Ecologist

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Posted 05 August 2006 - 12:41 AM

I'd like to add that motion-activated sprinklers are effective, but only if you have an array of them through your yard to make sure there are no dead spots allowing a predator to skirt the sprinkler to get into the enclosure. Even common gray squirrels are smart enough to find the dead spots in a poorly installed array of motion-activated sprinklers. Raccoons, dogs, cats, crows, and most other animals are, too.

PUT A SECURE LOCKING TOP ON YOUR ENCLOSURES (BOTH OUTDOOR AND INDOOR) if there is potential for break-in.

ANY poison bait is a no-no, especially in a residential area, and you're apt to kill something OTHER than your intended target and land yourself in jail.

Shooting any potential perpetrators is also a no-no. You have to realize that predators are NOT evil. By raiding your turtle enclosures, they are doing what comes naturally to them. They do not understand that you care deeply for (or even love) the turtles in your yard. They do not understand that there might be consequences for taking the turtles from their pen. When they see turtles, they see dinner, the same as your mouth would water at a yummy prime angus steak or at a delicious summer watermelon (or whatever other foods you crave). It is YOUR responsibility to do absolutely everything within your power to understand all of the potential predators in your area and to use humane deterrents and secure containment to keep your pet turtles away from them. They are JUST hungry and looking for an easy meal. Make your turtles so difficult to get to that it's easier for them to raid the neighbors' trash cans.

#3 Paradon

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Posted 05 August 2006 - 10:13 PM

You forgot about possum, or opposum. These guys are found in my area, and would probably love to snack on my softshell turtle if I leave them outside. That's why I move my turtle collection into the garage with lighting.

#4 Minotaur

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Posted 05 August 2006 - 10:48 PM

Good call Paradon, the opposum is actually found in my area too, I simply forgot to mention it as they seem very rare in populated areas, however, opposums are predators of turtles. Thankfully, they are not nearly as crafty as racoons, and if you've racoon-proofed your turtles home, it's been opposum-proofed ten times over lol.

Ecologist's idea about motion activated sprinklers is very awesome as well, thanks for adding that.

I also wonder if anyone has tried out those "sonic pest repellers". You know, those things that supposedly send out high frequency sound waves every few minutes that supposedly repel some animals? Has anyone had any luck with these, and would you recommend them for protecting an enclosure?

#5 Paradon

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Posted 05 August 2006 - 11:05 PM

Well, they may be rare in a populated area, but I had the same possum visiting my house a few times during the winter. My dogs just went nuts and kept barking at it. At first, I didn't know what was going on...what my dogs was barking at...so my dad went out to look and came in and told me there is something weird looking on the fence. I went out to look, and there it was...a possum. It just froze when it heard my dog barking, so it stayed there for a long time, and my dog wouldn't calm down! :lol: Finally, my dad had to go nudge it down from the fence so my dog would stop barking. We were afraid the neighbor might be upset with all that lound barking. And this possum kept coming back time after time again. How weird is that? :lol:

#6 JGA

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Posted 07 August 2006 - 12:16 AM

this should definately be pinned very helpful hints ecologist I love the sprinkler drone Ideas I think I know which ones you mean..... the billy goat idea sounds interesting to however a garden might be at stake due to a hungry goat....and I thought Id mention this too ants can be pesky predators too.... I lost a hatchling thanks to ants I dont know how dangerous they are to adult turts but hatchlings are at risk due to ants I use a borax and hot pepper mix to keep those little buggers out of my pens and outdoor enclosures and I use vasiline on my tubs and tanks at the top to keep them from climbing in....

#7 Minotaur

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Posted 07 August 2006 - 09:49 PM

Hey, cool info JGA, thanks for contributing! I had never eaven thought of ants. The vasoline is a cool idea for keeping them out of tanks.

#8 Ecologist

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Posted 08 August 2006 - 01:17 AM

Those plastic garden decoys that look like great horned owls are effective at repelling some animals. Make sure you set it up so that it moves when the wind blows. If it always stays in one spot, the animals get used to it. I have one that I use to keep birds and rabbits out of my garden, and it works fairly well. It TOTALLY freaks out the dog and the cat, so it might be another useful tool to protect a turtle enclosure.

If you have a specific animal that is a problem, certain plants might be effective repellents. Consult your local garden store if you have a specific animal in mind, and ask if there is a plant you can put around (and outside of) your turtle enclosure that might repel that animal.

There are also some chemical repellents you can use. Some are in a spray, and some are a pellet. The sprays don't last very long, while the pellets have more of a time-release activity. Different ones work against different animals, so it's best if you know what animals could be a problem before you buy any.

Electrified fencing is another option. There's a product out made for hikers. It's an electrified fence powered by a 9v battery that is powerful enough to deter hungry bears from your yummy trail mix contained within. The traditional type that plugs into an outdoor outlet works, too.

Hang a few aluminum pie tins like a mobile around your yard. The wind blows them and they bang around, and the sun reflects off of them, too. These work for some animals (mostly birds).

#9 Turtlestork

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Posted 08 August 2006 - 07:59 AM

Ok, these are all great ideas. But, if you live in area like mine, where there is constant development and the little patches of wood are everywhere, then many of these thing will be surpassed by a hungry animal.

Those chemical repellants, nope, don't work. tried many times. If you want a chemical thing to keep them away, go to a hunting store and try to find coyote, wolf or fox urine. spread that around and they won't come.

The sprinklers i have heard places say they don't work well.

Those little pyramids you float on the water that are shiny don't work either.

I have tried many things, bith for fish ponds and turtle ponds. i still get fish taken.


By the way, I have just about every predator you mentioned plus some more. Domestic cats weren't a problem until some stupid owner let his exotic cat loose. Don't know what species exactly, but it looks something like a serval. also, opossums are so common everywhere here. We also get herons. lots of them. while they aren't big on ponds that are thin and narrow and deep, they love ponds they can wade in. The best way to deter herons are:

Use stakes and make a perimeter around your pond with fishing line. this works because the land out of the water and when they touch this fly away. This should be used in combination with my next suggestion, though.

A heron decoy: Works well. they don't like it when they don't have the pond to themselves.

Both of these a friend of mine uses on his pond which used to get raided(i mean no fish left) by herons and i know herons can very easily eat hatchlings.

Those are my experiences. Those were mainly for fish, too, so it may be different in a primarily turtle pond.

#10 Ecologist

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Posted 08 August 2006 - 07:24 PM

It all depends on what predators you have a problem with. Sprinklers probably won't bother a raccoon a whole lot (they go swimming, anyway), but they'd be perfect for cats.

Coyote, wolf, or fox urine just might end up ATTRACTING those very animals, but it might actually work to repel raccoons or opossums.

Honestly, I don't think you should ever expect to avoid losses completely if you have an outdoor enclosure. Do what you absolutely can to prevent predators from taking your turts or fish or whatever, but expect and be prepared for losses. Many animals, especially raccoons, are brilliant safe crackers. Some can squeeze into a crack you would think is inconsequential. Most might just jump on an opportunity like you leaving a gate/lid unlatched, or not paying enough attention to enclosure maintenance. These things can be just a momentary lapse, but you can bet if a predator is scoping out your enclosure when it happens, they'll capitalize.

#11 Paradon

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Posted 09 August 2006 - 09:39 PM

this should definately be pinned very helpful hints ecologist I love the sprinkler drone Ideas I think I know which ones you mean..... the billy goat idea sounds interesting to however a garden might be at stake due to a hungry goat....and I thought Id mention this too ants can be pesky predators too.... I lost a hatchling thanks to ants I dont know how dangerous they are to adult turts but hatchlings are at risk due to ants I use a borax and hot pepper mix to keep those little buggers out of my pens and outdoor enclosures and I use vasiline on my tubs and tanks at the top to keep them from climbing in....


Oh, yeah! Ants can be deadly to turtles, especially fire ants! The turtles instinct when they are under attack is to retract it's head and legs inside the shell. When ants attack even the full grown turtles, they don't know what to do! they don't flee into the water, instead they retract their head and legs inside the shells and let the ants bite them until they're dead!

#12 mountain cat

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Posted 10 August 2006 - 06:34 AM

I live in the hills and predators abound. I have found an electric fence is the best solution, plus an enclosure within my fenced yard.

I have ducks and chickens which attract all sorts of night time predators, and the electric fence deters most of those that might try to scale my fence.

I use a heavy guage wire on all my animal enclosures, something strong enough to handle the weight of a leaping cat (big cats), just in case one decides to leap over the 5 foot high chain link. The electrified strand runs on top of the chain link, and is only about 2 inches above the chain link so nothing can crawl in the gap. I trim back trees and anything climbable, including branches that hang over the house, where an animal might enter by climbing over the house and avoiding the fence.

When my neighbor parked his boat next to my fence, I had a coyote get in the yard. It apparently leaped from his boat, over my fence. It must have got zapped trying to get back out, and was terrified when I went outside, finally making a running leap onto a boulder, then up over the fence.

I don't know if skunks like turtles, but they come into my yard, right thru the fence, regularly. I am slowly adding smaller wire along the bottom of the chain link, but it turns out the type skunks we have can fit thru the one inch poultry wire, with ease.

The electric fence keeps the raccoons away. I do not want those to have access to the animal enclosures, as they'd find a way into the enclosures, I'm sure, but I've found the electric fence does a great job of keeping those away. Each year, the newest batch of young racoons try to climb my fence, get zapped, and learn to stay away. For a while, I had the electric charger on a timer, with it coming on only at dusk, but with all the power outages, the timer was constantly needing adjusted. Now I just have the fence charged all the time, and we have signs on the fence warning it is electrified.

Since we also have predatory birds, including big ravens, jays, crows, hawks, herons and so on, overhead protection is essential. The heavy duty welded wire enclosure keeps those out.

Yes, wire is expensive, but it is essential to have yard pets in the hills.

I also garden, and find the electric fence keeps out the deer, and allows me to harvest what I grow.

For those interested in an electric fence, the chargers start at $60 and go up from there. I got one mail order for about $100 and it's been working for 4 years now. It has the power to run a few miles of electrified wire, and will work with rain, and a little brush on the fence too. It puts out enough power to zap livestock.

#13 MouhotiiFan

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Posted 10 August 2006 - 11:02 AM

Peacocks, geese and Guinea Fowl are all good animals to have around. They will let you know if anything is intruding. The downfalls are that domestic geese typically cannot fly.

To protect my animals from predators, I use rabbit wire. Its much stronger than chicken wire which a raccoon will go right through. I also have motion lights if those fail, I employ this.

http://ruger.com/Fir...imagefield.y=10

I know thats not an option for those is a subdivision, but a 1,000 FPS + pellet gun may be.....

#14 Minotaur

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Posted 10 August 2006 - 08:50 PM

Haha Mahouti, how much of a racoon is even left after a blast from a ruger?

Also, I can't believe I forgot to mention a VERY common predator of turtle hatchlings that are found in almost any pond... BULLFROGS. Bullfrogs will eat anything small enough to fit in their mouths from turtle hatchlings, to snakes, to mice, to baby birds, and even other frogs! Luckily, bullfrogs and their tadpoles will usually become lunch to an adult turtle before they get to your hatchlings if you have several turtles in your pond. I think the only real problem would be when you keep hatchlings in a seperate pond from the adults, which is common for snappers, as they may eat their young. I'd say that if you're keeping a hatchling pond, the best thing to do would be to put up some chicken wire or something and capture every bullfrog you see. (Then feed it to your adults >_> I hate bullfrogs lol)

#15 Ecologist

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Posted 10 August 2006 - 10:15 PM

Good tips, mountain cat. And yes, a skunk WOULD eat a turtle if it could catch it. They don't seem to be quite as crafty and determined as a raccoon, but they can squeeze through smaller holes. Bullfrogs are a tricky one. I would think that if your enclosure had a small gauge mesh around the base (say 2 feet in height, with 1/2" to 1" openings), you could keep out any frogs or toads that you don't specifically want inside the enclosure.

#16 hardy

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Posted 10 August 2006 - 11:05 PM

i have not had the problem yet but my yard is fenced inwith wood fencing and we have a guard dog fenced in and maybe that helps too i have had opposum in the yard but on the other side but not recently maybe this will help

#17 Ecologist

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Posted 10 August 2006 - 11:28 PM

Don't count on the dog chasing everything out all the time unless it's specifically trained to do so...and especially if the dog comes inside occasionally (which it should...but that's another issue entirely).

#18 JGA

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Posted 11 August 2006 - 12:13 AM

I forgot to mention this formidible predator......man......my first box turtles where raided and i ended up losing my first eastern box turtle to more than likely the electric man...... especially the way my enclosure was open when I came back home....the reason I think it was the electric man was that one of our neighbors told us our house was visited by one the very same day..... im not really sure how to give advice for this one....

Edited by JGA, 11 August 2006 - 11:01 AM.


#19 vaturtle

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Posted 11 August 2006 - 10:01 AM

Great info Minotaur! :)

Another concern may be neighborhood kids?

As I said, my pond will be godzilla proof :lol:

#20 Minotaur

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Posted 11 August 2006 - 11:12 AM

Remember that guy who posted the link to the Ruger? Yeah, that works on neighbor kids too. :P

Seriously though, I think a tall fence with a padlock will keep the kids out. If not. Ruger. lol




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