Pond Predator Mammals

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Pond Predator Mammals

November 18, 2018 - 12:37

I recently had a question about what to do if your pond is visited by a mink... 

Mink and other water mammals are indeed efficient predators!  I have yet to hear any evidence that putting a structure in the pond will help in any way protect Koi from mink predation.  The mink will swim right in after the Koi, and indeed have no problem doing that, unless the hole is small enough to allow the fish to enter but prevent the mink from entering.  That assumes you ONLY have very small fish in the pond...  And there are downsides (the ying and yang of making any decision regarding Koi) to structures...  First, the Koi may try and hide there, and while the structure won't protect them from mink, it will prevent the pond owner from being able to see the Koi to assess if the Koi are sick or injured and need assistance.  If the whole point of the pond is to enjoy seeing the fish, giving them places to hide won't improve your enjoyment...  Physically, all structures create blocks to circulation, thus causing the filters to be much less efficient.  Ideally, the pond has good circulation, all around and top to bottom, such that solids end up in the bottom drain.  Structures create dead areas where mulm and debris build up, causing a bloom of bad bacteria which can kill the Koi as surely as a mink. 

So - what to do?  In cases where there are otters, minks or muskrats - I have known pond owners to give up their ponds.  These water-predators are very hard to discourage, and they are extremely agile and persistent.  Muskrats can chew through liners.  Ideally, you trap the offending animal in a Have-a-heart trap, and then relocate them at least 5 miles away, in appropriate habitat.   Sometimes, that solves the problem, but usually, if there is one predator, then others will also find the pond.  Burying fence several feet deep all around the perimeter of the pond. and covering the pond with a wire net is said to be very effective, but not easy.  Unfortunately, the truth is that there are some locations where a Koi pond just isn't practical.  If you live near a river or other predator habitat, you may have to take some fairly drastic actions in order to keep a Koi pond.  I have known pond owners that give away their remaining Koi, and keep the pond to enjoy just as a water feature.  After a few years, they sometimes have luck keeping Koi again - at least for a while...

Karen Pattist


!If you're not havin' FUN, you're not doin' it right