5 Easy Tips To Keep Turtles Out Of Your Swimming Pool

Pond slider or red-eared turtle.A group of wild turtles in the lake. Turtles sit on a rock and bask in the sun.

Summer is here, which means the weather is warming up, days are getting longer, and it’s time to take the cover off your pool and start enjoying these days. Opening up the pool means it is available not just to yourself and your family, but to other animals that are starting to find their way in as well. At some point, you may just find a shelled friend taking a soak in your pool.

Turtles are just one of the many animals you might find in your swimming pool. You can use a fence, pool cover, turtle release traps, or plant barriers to keep the turtles out of your pool. Long term, building a fence around your pool and keeping the pool covered are the best options.

Now, let’s get to the good stuff on (of course) why turtles shouldn’t be in your pool, how to keep them out, and what to do when you find one!

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Why You Don’t Want Turtles In Your Pool

Turtles are semi-aquatic reptiles that need two environments to be healthy: water to keep them moisturized and search for food, and a dry environment out of the water in the sun for basking. Swimming pools seem like a pretty great place to be for a turtle.

However, just because a turtle might want to be in your swimming pool does not mean that it is good for them or that you’d want these surprise guests using it.

Not wanting wild animals in your pool is a good reason by itself to want to keep turtles out, but here are a few more reasons to keep them out.

Pool Chemicals Are Not Good For Turtles

Compared to amphibians and fish turtles are pretty resistant to chlorine but it can still have negative effects on the animals. Chlorine can be damaging to both the eyes and skin of the turtle and can irritate them in the short term and possible long-term damage.

Other chemicals that change the pH can also be bad for the turtles and damage their sensitive skin.

These chemicals can be potentially harmful to turtles even after they get out of the pool, or in some cases, the turtles won’t be able to make it out of the pool.

Similar to turtles, snakes can also find their way into your pool, which can be harmful to them. Read up on 5 easy tips to keep snakes out of your pool as you might have one give you a visit as well!

Pools Are Hard For Turtles To Get Out Of

The turtle sits on a stone near the water in which floats leaves

Pools often have steps that are easy for people to use, but not so much for other animals. Turtles are just one of the many species that are not able to climb over the edges of the pool to get out and will be stuck swimming until they are rescued or exhausted.

Turtles are very comfortable in the water and spend most of their time in it but still need to bask in the sun for energy, and they breathe air which can be hard to do when they are tired.

For smaller species of turtles and other animals that fall into the pool, a ramp like this MorTime Animal Escape Ramp can give them the opportunity to get out.

But the only issues with ramps is that animals often panic and thus, don’t use it or find it 🙁

So, we want to discourage them from entering your pool in the first place.

Turtles Can Be Exceptionally Dirty

Turtles are wild animals and while your pool is chlorinated, if it hasn’t been retreated recently it isn’t going to do much good.

Turtles also produce a lot of waste that can dirty up the pool. This waste is naturally gross and something that most people wouldn’t want in the pool that they swim in.

Visiting turtles could also track in some debris that clogs your filter but – that point is a little bit lower on our priorities list.

5 Ways To Keep Turtles Out Of Your Pool

There are plenty of ways to keep turtles out of your swimming pool, and we have five easy tips for you down below. Thankfully, turtles are fairly large animals who can’t jump or climb all that well and this makes it easy to keep them out.

Depending on how your pool is set up and what resources you have available, you might have a different way to keep them out of your pool but this list should give you some good ideas and inspiration.

Build A Fence Around Your Pool

A backyard swimming pool and jacuzzi hot tob at night with solar lights around the fence for privacy and illumination.

Probably the most effective way to keep turtles out of your swimming pool is to build a fence around the pool.

By no means are turtles good at climbing or any other show of athletics which means that the fence does not have to be very high. A fence only a foot high would be more than enough that turtles could not climb over.

The fence would also have to have gaps small enough that turtles could not get through which would depend on the species in your area. However, a fence with gaps of less than an inch would be sufficient at keeping out pretty much all species and ages of turtles.

The best benefit of a fence is that it would keep a lot of different animals from getting access to the pool. With only one deterrent, most species would no longer be able to get into the pool.

Just make sure to build a sturdy fence so that a determined turtle would not be able to push through it, as they are stronger than they look.

Use A Pool Cover To Keep Turtles Out

You likely already own a pool cover which is another great way to keep the turtles out without purchasing any new equipment or requiring additional labor.

Simply covering up the pool when not in use will keep the turtles from even knowing that there is a pool there that they could get stuck in. Most turtles are small enough that they would be able to walk on the pool cover without falling through which is a risk for larger animals.

Using a pool cover to keep turtles out is one of the easiest recommendations and lets you use what you already have at home. While closing up the pool after every time you use it and having to open it again is a lot of work, it can keep a lot of animals out.

Repel Other Pests To Keep The Turtles Away

There aren’t any products that repel turtles on the market, and it is hard to say how effective a general reptile/snake repellent would be on turtles, but that may not be necessary.

One of the reasons that you might find turtles in your swimming pool might be they are looking for food. If there are insects that are in your yard and near the pool, the turtle might be attracted to these first.

Using a spray or another insect control method should be enough to keep turtles away if that is what they are looking for. Wondercide Pest Control Spray uses essential oils and is safe for pets and kids, but effective against a wide variety of insects.

In many cases, insects such as beetles are commonly attracted to pools. In turn, they can attract turtles and other pests, causing even more problems!

Simply spray around the pool and the rest of the plants in the area every 4-6 weeks and that’s it! A spray is easy to apply over a wide area and is worth the peace of mind that turtles won’t be searching for food in the area.

This also keeps mosquitos away which is a win-win in my book!

Use Live Turtle Release Traps

Live traps with a bit of fish, chicken, or formulated turtle feed can easily capture turtles and you can set them up near the pool, or in the pool depending on the trap.

Using a live trap makes it easy to relocate the turtles to more natural habitats and is an effective method for a lot of different species. Most species of turtle are not an issue but depending on where you live, snapping turtles may be more common (they can bite, let me tell ya!)

Using traps to safely capture and relocate turtles can limit the danger and stress presented to both you and the animals.

Using live traps can be a bit of a gamble as more animals than just the turtles might be interested in the baits. This is something to consider if going this route.

Check your local laws to make sure that you can trap turtles legally, not all areas will allow you to do so. Also be sure to check the traps frequently, as you don’t want an animal to be in there any longer than necessary.

If you happen to catch an injured turtle, the Massachusetts Department of Fisheries and Wildlife states that for any minor injuries the turtles are best left on their own, but for major injuries such as an open wound, you should seek out a wildlife rehabilitation center.

But, let’s try to keep them away from your property altogether 🙂

Use Plants To Deter The Turtles

Box Turtle Roaming Through Yard in East Texas

Your pool might be set up in a way that there isn’t a large area that the turtles might be getting in at, and you might want to go with a more natural solution that a fence.

A natural barrier that turtles can’t easily get through might be a great solution for you. Planting a wall of hedges is a great barrier, especially using thorny plants.

Plants can be used as a great barrier while also being pleasant to look at. The downside is that they can take some time to establish and become an effective barrier. 

With some patience and planning, using plants is a great way to keep the turtles out. A rosebush is a great aesthetic option!

What To Do If You Find A Turtle In The Pool

Maybe you haven’t applied any of these tips to keep the turtles out of your pool yet, or perhaps they found a different way in. Not only that, but an external factor can cause the turtle to find its way into your pool such as being dropped by a bird.

No matter how they ended up in the pool, you might be wondering what to do if you found a turtle in your pool.

Call Pest Control For A Major Turtle Problem

For a problem that you don’t feel comfortable dealing with by yourself, call a pest control company or animal control depending on the problem. If you find a large snapping turtle, for example, calling a professional is a preferred idea.

If you are constantly finding turtles in your pool and can’t seem to keep them out then it may also be necessary to call a professional to find out where they are coming from and how to stop them.

In any situation that might be dangerous to you or your family, or trying to solve something out of your comfort zone, I always recommend calling pest control experts to take care of things.

You can find local pest control companies to help you both treat and prevent any problems that you may be having with the turtles.

Again, if you just have an ol’ painted turtle, you’re good to help them out with the pool net. Or…

Use A Bucket To Scoop The Turtle Out

Most turtles don’t pose a threat to humans, and you can either scoop them out or pick them up out of your pool and put them in a bucket or box and move them.

The further away you can take the turtles the less likely they are to return to the pool, and taking them to a local pond might be your best bet.

Make sure you can identify the turtle before letting it go in nature to be sure that it is not a released or lost pet, and is a noninvasive species. You can contact local services to identify it if you do not feel comfortable identifying it on your own such as animal control.

If you do not have a bucket, you can grab turtles and pick them up out of the pool if you are feeling brave and know what to do. Most species of turtles can’t bite or scratch you if you grab them in the middle of the shell.

For snapping turtles, which are large animals that can reach over 30 pounds, Tufts Wildlife Clinic notes that you can pick them up by grabbing above their back legs but to be careful as they have sharp claws on all of their feet and have a long neck that allows them to reach about halfway down their body.

My recommendation? Don’t mess with a snapper. If you do, it’s on you.

Create A Ramp For Turtles To Get Out On Their Own

Siamese box terrapin  Shaped like turtles, but with a higher curved carapace

Using a piece of wood or plastic you can easily create a ramp to help the turtle get out of your pool on their own. By placing the piece of wood or whatever you have on hand near the turtle leading out of the water they’ll probably be able to get out on their own pretty quickly.

You can also try to scoop them up on the ramp to give them a head start and they will be thankful for the option to escape as they’ve probably been swimming for several hours.

Or you can purchase a ramp specifically designed for this purpose such as the one mentioned earlier in this article, or what you can find locally.

If you frequently are finding animals in your pool then installing a more permanent ramp might be a good idea so you don’t have to constantly pay attention.

Thank You For Reading!

I hope that the tips in this article were able to help you to keep the turtles out of your swimming pool.

As a quick recap

The best ways to keep turtles out of your pool are:

  • Use a fence to block off the turtles from getting into the pool
  • Hide your pool away under a pool cover
  • Repel other bugs and insects that turtles may be attracted to
  • Use catch and release turtle traps near your pool to relocate them
  • Rely on a natural barrier of thorny plants to keep the turtles at bay

At the very least, you should have some good inspiration to set up effective measures to keep those friendly reptiles out of your pool!

Also please feel free to check out our other articles on this topic if you are having any other problems with animals finding their way into your pool!

References

Conner, C. A., Douthitt, B. A., & Ryan, T. J. (2005). Descriptive ecology of a turtle assemblage in an urban landscape. The American Midland Naturalist153(2), 428–435.

Holland, D. C. (1994). The western pond turtle: Habitat and history: Final report. The Administration.

Kenneth Dodd, C. (1990). Effects of habitat fragmentation on a stream-dwelling species, the flattened musk turtle sternotherus depressus. Biological Conservation54(1), 33–45.

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