Saturday, May 10, 2008

"Just Catchin' Some Rays"

Blithely ignorant of the potential of developing shell cancer from extended time exposed to those harsh UV rays most turtles love to bask in the warmth of the sun. A few years ago we realized that the pond was lacking in available 'structure' for the fish. Smaller fish use structure such as dead trees and rocks in the water to help avoid their predators. And the predators? Well they use such structure to hide near so they can ambush unsuspecting prey.

A friend who frequently fished in the pond had some old pallets lying around and made a couple of A-frame type shelters to provide a bit of structure. The wood of the pallets was very dry when we put them in the pond so we left one sitting in relatively shallow water near the bank. We were concerned that it might actually float away if we just put it in the deeper water. Well, we never got around to moving it into deeper water as the bottom wood became heavier with the absorbed water. As a result a portion of the structure is out of the water and due to the slope of the bottom the wood slopes into the water.

Well, it turned out that turtles just love it. Since the pond is not so old there were no natural places for them to bask such old logs or fallen tree trunks in the water. Obviously the basking turtles prefer a surface above the water level but with water all around so they can easily slide back into the safe refuge. (Turtles are evidently very shy about basking in the nude with other species too nearby so one has to sneak up on them to get a good look.) The structure is on the north side of the pond and just happens to be sloped just right for them to catch the best of the morning and afternoon sun at the best angles for a quick warming in the early spring. We have noticed some turtles actually basking on the edge of the banks to catch the morning sun when the pallet structure is full.

We are thinking of possibly making a couple of more natural basking structures using some tree trunks or perhaps some scrap rough cut boards we have around. We will keep you posted on that one.

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Thanks for stopping by to visit our little pond. We would love to see you again real soon.