Turtle Pond FAQs
When questions arise about the Turtle Pond they should be directed to the School of Biological Sciences, Dr. David Hillis (471-5792, firstname.lastname@example.org) or the Integrative Office at 471-5858. When bystanders witness turtles which are seen slowly trudging all over the areas surrounding the Turtle Ponds they have not “escaped” or “gotten out”. They are seeking soft earth in which to lay their eggs, and should NOT be disturbed or handled by anyone. Occasionally a turtle will not be seen by a vehicle during the egg-laying walkabout, and will get squashed. Unfortunately, this is the result of nature clashing violently with the modern world.
It is not permissible to dump the contents of your aquarium into the ponds: the pond can only support certain numbers of population, tropical or non-native water plants can escape containment and plague local waterways, or your fish or turtles could pass on a disease to the pond's resident population. It is against the law to release your fish or turtles into local natural waterways. Contact the Austin Nature Center, 327-8181, for recommendations on proper and lawful disposal of your aquaria pets and plants.
Turtle Pond Questions
Q. One of the turtles has gotten out of the pond. Are they supposed to be able to get out?
A. Yes, the pond is designed to allow the turtles to get out on to the land. The female turtles need dry soil/sand in which to lay their eggs and so have to leave the pond on occasion.
Q. Well, won’t the turtles get run over?
A. Yes, this is possible, but it rarely happens as the turtles seldom travel far from their pond.
Q. Well, what if the turtles do head toward the road?
A. If you feel so inclined, please feel free to move the turtle off of the roadway yourself. However, be warned that they sometimes do bite. You should also wash your hands afterwards to protect yourself. If you do not feel so inclined, please contact the School of Biological Sciences at 471-4882 and we will find one of the volunteers that watch over the pond to remedy the situation.
Also, please note that if you run into a turtle in the wild that is in a dangerous situation (e.g. on the road) and you feel the need to move it; try not to move it too far. You should only move the turtle just far enough to get it out of harm’s way and only if it is actually in danger. Avoid moving the turtles a large distance (more than 15 meters) from where you found them or you may cause more harm than good by disorienting the turtle.
Q. What do I do if I see that one of the turtles is injured or sick?
A. Please contact the School of Biological Sciences at 471-4882 and we will contact one of the volunteers that watch over the pond to remedy the situation.
Q. I/my child/my grandkid/etc. would like to feed the turtles in the turtle pond. Is this okay? What do we feed them?
A. Yes, it is okay to feed the turtles in moderation. As for food, the best thing you can feed the turtles is the turtle food designed for pet turtles that can be found in most pet shops. If you plan on feeding the turtles on a regular basis, this would be the ideal. Alternatively, the turtles will sometimes eat fresh fruit, which is okay in moderation. Bread crumbs are also okay, they don’t offer a lot of nutrition and are mostly empty calories, but are acceptable in modest amounts. One food item to definitely avoid is meat (lunch meat, chicken, etc.). While the turtles will eat meat, often a lot of it ends up sinking to the bottom of the pond and rotting and can cause problems, including Salmonella contamination
It is dangerous to dangle your fingers or toes near the waterline or in the water. In the past part of the turtle population has included snapping turtles, who are very fond of eating fingers and toes.
Q. Is the turtle pond self-sustaining?
A. Yes, the pond is self-sustaining for the most part. The biggest problem comes with people dumping their pet turtles in the pond when they are tired of them and causing over-crowding.
Q. I have a pet turtle that I can no longer take care of, do you want it?
A. No. As mentioned before the turtle pond can get over-crowded if people keep dumping their turtles in it and we do not have an unlimited area to place these extra turtles. Unfortunately people dump their turtles in there on a weekly basis anyway. So, what can you do if you have an unwanted turtle? Your best bet is to contact a turtle rescue place like Turtle Homes (http://www.turtlehomes.org) or Gulf Coast Turtle and Tortoise Society (http://www.gctts.org/ or Information Line: 281-443-3383 or e-mail: email@example.com) who can help you find a home for your turtle. Please be warned that it is illegal to dump your pet turtle into natural waterways and generally causes harm to both the environment and the turtle.
The water garden plants are courtesy of Ray Neubauer, senior lecturer in MCDB (471-4741, firstname.lastname@example.org) who oversees their periodic maintenance.
See also: Turtle Pond Article