Live fish help make a garden pond appear like a natural part of landscaping, but they attract more than just homeowners and children. When snakes discover fish are in a pond, they may set up residency and turn the pond into a veritable buffet. The snakes' presence leads to costly fish replacement and can make the area unsafe for pets and people. Making changes to your pond can prevent snakes from feeding on your fish.
Alternative Food Sources
Snakes are less likely to go to the effort of fishing for their next meal in your fishpond if they can find food elsewhere with easier access. All snakes are carnivorous. So put seeds and food scraps near the fishpond to attract small animals such as mice, rabbits and birds, which snakes eat. Instead of removing frogs from the pond, leave them there to reproduce so snakes will eat the frogs and tadpoles rather than snack on your fish. Some snakes also eat bugs and worms; if you find any while digging in your flowerbeds, relocate them to the ground around the pond.
Snakes survive by keeping out of sight except when in search of food. If they discover your pond's fish as a food source, they are likely to live in a hiding spot near the pond. Remove obvious places they may hide, such as shrubs, logs and ledges formed by overhanging rocks. Snakes also burrow and hide underground. Even though you may prefer the appearance of organic mulch, replace it with inorganic mulch such as gravel, which is too uncomfortable for snakes to use for burrowing. These measures don't directly prevent snakes from entering a pond but limit snake habitats, encouraging the animals to live and hunt elsewhere. Likewise, add rocks and plants to the pond's interior so fish have places to hide from snakes. Add a waterfall to cause vibrations in the water to keep water-dwelling snakes away.
A net covering a fishpond is a physical barrier that prevents snakes from entering the pond and accessing its fish. Install a net only after you removed all snakes from the water, however. Choose a net specifically designed for pond use to ensure it will fit tightly around the pond's perimeter. An aquatic net has a fine weave, preventing predators from getting through it. In addition to preventing snakes' entry, the net keeps out other predators, such as birds and raccoons. A net might hinder the pond's beauty at close range, but dark net materials won't completely obscure the view from a distance.
Real and Realistic Predators
Larger predators in the vicinity of the pond will scare snakes away so they don't bother the fish. Although raccoons, opossums and similar creatures can be pests in a garden setting, they are advantageous for reducing a snake population. These larger animals enter property in search of food. So leave out some food scraps to invite them near the pond. If you encouraged a food supply of small creatures such as mice, then those animals should attract large predator birds such as owls and hawks, which also feed on snakes. Decoy predators also can scare snakes away, particularly decoys that emit sounds, which make them seem more realistic than noiseless decoys.
- Drs. Foster and Smith: Pond Predator Control
- FishChannel.com: Snake Solutions
- Hartz: How to Keep Your Pond Safe from Predators
- MacArthur Water Gardens: Today's Pond Questions and Answers -- Snakes: A Word from an Expert on Safely Dealing with Snakes in Your Garden or Pond
- UVMA, Utah Veterinary Clinics: Caring for Fish in Your Pond
- Photo Credit JPLDesigns/iStock/Getty Images
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