People looking to install a swimming pool are often concerned that pools will naturally attract rats and other pests, especially if they live in an arid environment without many sources of water for wildlife. This risk can range from having small rodents drown in your pool to having alligators take up residence, depending on where you live.
Swimming pools, unfortunately, do attract rats, snakes, mosquitoes, and other pests since they act as a source of drinkable freshwater for wild animals. Swimming pools also have a habit of drowning animals that fall in them and can’t fall out. There are methods you can employ to keep wildlife out of your pool, such as floats and airtight storage bins for food.
Swimming pools may bring in some unwanted wildlife to your backyard, but there are several ways you can help keep rats, frogs, and other animals away from your blue oasis. Keep reading to learn more about keeping pests and wildlife away from your swimming pool.
Swimming Pools Attract Wildlife
If you put in a swimming pool, chances are you’re going to have to deal with wildlife coming to try to drink out of it or swim in it. This is especially true in climates that are arid (dry without many natural sources of water for animals to drink from) or in areas where there are many semi-aquatic animals.
The good news is that many of the animals that are attracted to your swimming pool as a source of drinking water are harmless. The swimming pool may do more harm to the animals than the other way around—small animals such as mice, birds, shrews, chipmunks, frogs, and insects often fall into swimming pools and get caught in the current caused by their filter pumps, causing them to drown.
Pool owners can’t keep all animals away from their swimming pool unless they put up a very tight privacy fence around it, and even then, flying animals are likely to find their way in. Fledgling birds are especially vulnerable since they flutter across the ground when they are learning to fly, and it is easy for them to swim into an in-ground swimming pool inadvertently.
Swimming pools can help sustain unwanted pests such as snakes and rats, but in most cases, these animals also have to be sustained by a nearby source of food as well. That means if you have grain or animal food stored where rats and mice can get at it, you’re likely looking at a population explosion if the mice also have access to drinking water from the nearby swimming pool. An increase in the rodent population is what brings in greater numbers of snakes. (Source: National Pesticide Information Center)
Animals Attracted to Swimming Pools
There are many kinds of different animals that you’ll see attracted to your backyard swimming pool. While many of these animals are harmless to people, it’s pretty gross to have to pull drowned small animals out of your pool skimmer if you can otherwise avoid it.
Here are some of the animals you might find trying to either drink out of or take up residence in your swimming pool:
- Frogs: Frogs find it hard to tolerate a heavily chlorinated pool, and you’re more likely to find frogs taking up residence in pools that have been left chemically neglected to the point that they start to turn green or develop algae. However, traveling frogs will often try to jump into a swimming pool, thinking it is a pond, lake, or stream, and will be killed by the filtration system.
- Rodents: Rats, mice, shrews, chipmunks, and other small rodents are attracted to swimming pools as a source of drinking water and will sometimes fall into pools after being chased by a dog or a cat. Young squirrels are also vulnerable to drowning in swimming pools if they fall out of a tree into the pool. Many pool steps are too steep and slippery for an exhausted small animal to climb out with them.
- Insects: Insects are attracted to both the water in the swimming pool and the bright artificial lights that usually surround it, which leads to many insects falling into the pool and becoming trapped. This includes wasps, bees, and other stinging insects, who often fall in swimming pools when trying to get access to water. If the chlorine levels in the pool are not kept high enough, a swimming pool can also become a breeding ground for mosquitoes.
- Birds: Fledglings that can’t fly yet are the birds most at risk of drowning in swimming pools, but adult birds can fall into pools and drown too while trying to get a drink.
- Reptiles: Water snakes and alligators are attracted to backyard swimming pools, and in areas where they are native or invasive, alligators are one of the most problematic wild animals that can invade your swimming pool.
As you can see, if you don’t make a point to deter wild animals from getting in your pool by taking precautions like putting in a safety fence, you’re likely to be fishing some out of it at some point. (Source: Humane Society)
How to Keep Wildlife Out of Your Swimming Pool
There are two primary ways to keep wildlife out of your swimming pool—by deterring them from using it as a source of drinking water and by giving them a way to get out of it should they happen to fall in.
Here are some strategies to take if you’re dealing with small animals in your swimming pool:
- Make sure there are no food sources nearby: If you have birdfeeders or unprotected sources of bird feed, chicken feed, dog food, cat food, or other food sources outdoors that would attract vermin, be sure that they’re stored in airtight containers, preferably made of metal or some other non-chewable material. This will help prevent mice, rats, and squirrels from colonizing.
- Set up bee waterers and other watering holes for wildlife in the garden or elsewhere in the yard. Setting up safe watering spots for wildlife that is apart from the swimming pool area can help deter wildlife from trying the more treacherous method of getting a drink from the pool. Setting up watering stations near feeding stations such as bird feeders can help encourage wildlife to use them.
- Install an escape ramp in the pool. These safety devices can give small animals that fall into the pool a place to exit safely before they become exhausted and drown. (Source: PETA)
- Keep mosquitoes and other insects at bay. Make sure that your pool chemicals stay balanced and that there are no areas of standing water around the pool that are allowed to become stagnate and encourage mosquitoes to move in. It’s also a good idea to burn citronella candles and other insect deterrents around the pool to drive off insects from the swimming pool area.
(Source: Pool Man)
Keeping wildlife away from your pool is as much for their protection as it is your convenience, so it’s worth making an effort to set up boundaries to keep them out.
Swimming Pools Do Attract Wildlife, But Wild Animals Can Be Redirected
To keep wildlife away from your swimming pool, you have to take into consideration why they’re going after the pool in the first place—access to clean, fresh drinking water. If you provide fresh water for wildlife elsewhere in the yard and make sure that wildlife has a safety ramp to escape if they accidentally fall in, you’ll rarely have to deal with pests in your swimming pool.