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Ponds and Snakes  RSS feed

 
Posts: 38
Location: Central Texas
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We're planning to make a pond on our property, it sits entirely on the slope of a hill, facing east, about 4 acres. Here in Central Texas, there's barely any grass due to overgrazing centuries prior, the soil is rocky, and the trees are short and few. We mostly have junipers that we lovingly call cedars, and live oaks which can get pretty massive trunks but still are short at around 20 ft tops.

Our property is terraced, which means that naturally there are several flat layers that are 10-30 ft wide that go down like a huge ladder. On one of these we can put a pond. I'd like the pond to have fish and whatnot to water fruit and nut trees that I plan to start from seed around the pond.

We don't really like snakes. The only snake right now that is of issue is rattle snake, and we don't usually see them around. But when we put a pond, we suddenly get three more dangerous snakes: cottonmouth, coral snake, and copperheads that live around water. If we use the pond just for fish and to water trees once in a while, and it's about 50-100 ft from the house, would that cause a problem? We don't have small kids or pets (yet) but we do get guests often with small children, and I bet a pond would be a prime attraction for them in our dry climate.

How do we keep the bad snakes out? Since we haven't started a pond yet, we can do everything possible from the start. Should we put it further away from the house? What are your thoughts?

And what if we want to swim in it, too?

Thank you!
 
master steward
Posts: 2515
Location: USDA Zone 8a
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Usually people get an outside dog to deter snakes.  I don't know if this works though when I had outside dogs I didn't have a problem with snakes.

When our pond had water in it we did see more snakes than we do now that we let it go dry.
 
Posts: 245
Location: Northern New Mexico, Latitude:35 degrees N, Elevation:6000'
12
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Are there other non-venomous snakes in your area that would live in/around the water that would fill the niche of the venomous ones?  I've read and always remembered that if there is a hole nature will fill it, so fill it with what you want.  I don't know how well this works because I only have a couple of years of implementing it on my property...but I've been removing the rattle snake from my property and allowing the non-venomous snakes to remain.  Last year I removed around maybe 20 rattlesnakes from my property.  They showed up the second year, I'm guessing because I had an outside garden the first year, and I saw maybe only one or two the first year.  And these were mostly young snakes looking for a territory to settle.  But this year I've only seen three young rattlesnakes on my property, and the first bullsnake.....yaaaaayyy finally. :-)  I've seen it a few times this year and it's always been in my greenhouse garden....it can get in and out, which I like.  So only time will tell, but it's something I've always remembered that I learned from someone else here on permies.  Eventually when I get more gardens/trees/shrubs/etc planted I will begin making stone piles for snake habitat.  And I will continue to encourage the snakes I want so they fill the niche.

And....Echinacea denatures snake venom.  I have a half gallon of tincture I made on hand after my horses were bit last summer.  Take a dose every half hour - full hour for a week or so.  You can also apply it directly to the bite.  I made a  post about it last year, but never took pictures.
 
master pollinator
Posts: 10811
Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
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Pigs and/or chickens will reduce the snake population, but in general, snakes won't be a big problem.  We've seen exactly one Rattlesnake since moving to Texas 20+ years ago.  Coral snakes are more common but less dangerous, except for extremely small children, who shouldn't be around a pond unsupervised anyway.  The only water snake we have seen in our water features has been the harmless Blotched Water Snake.

To reduce danger of snakes, keep paths cleared and keep shrubbery cleared back from play areas.
 
gardener
Posts: 5719
Location: Vilonia, Arkansas - Zone 7B/8A stoney, sandy loam soil pH 6.5
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Yes water attracts snakes but as Tyler brings up, if you have no hiding places, you will have few if any problems.
Snakes are like most predators, they require water to drink and food, the only snake that eats fish that is a danger is the water moccasin (cotton mouth) and those are an aggressive snake.
The Coral snake is very docile and will try to escape, so let it make its exit and all will be just fine.
Copper heads look for dry leaf patches, they blend in so well you would be hard pressed to spot one. Making sure there aren't any patches of dry leaves is a good way to make sure there aren't any copper heads around.
Also, anything they can hide under, so no pieces of plywood or roofing tin or anything else that can be used will be preventative.
No place to sun and warm up is also a good preventative.
 
pollinator
Posts: 2191
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A well would cost about the same as a pond. Just throwing that out there. If there is a big concern about what might be in the pond, will you ever make the jump in?

I'm in kempner/lampasas area. I've seen 6 rattlesnakes in the decade ive been here(2 locations). One was small and the cat killed it. Ive seen 10x that in black widows.  

After i built my pond the wildlife increased for sure. The common stuff was there prior (deer, raccoon, possom,fox) but i saw no armadillos, cotton tails, skunks, duck, or turkey until the pond was built. I have cameras set up so its not me visibly seeing them with my eyes.

Oh, funny snake story. Our house came with an in ground pool. A snake crawled over my wifes foot poolside then went into pool. It wasnt poisonous but it was big.  I finally got it out with a fishing net. They can stay under a long time!

Another one is bats. I can get in pool at dusk. The bats will drink from the pool while skimming over the surface. Its pretty cool. They might fly straight at me then veer off 3 to 6ft away. Awesome stuff.
 
wayne fajkus
pollinator
Posts: 2191
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Hiring someone to build a pond is tuff. Most guys know how to dig a hole, not build a pond. Theres a big difference. One holds water, one doesn't.

There are resources. The whole state is mapped on google earth with soil type. I think the county extension office got the link for me, or looked it up while i was there. It was a few years ago. She brought up my area and said it wont hold water.
 
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