DEAR JOAN: I notice that all kinds of animals and birds drink from my pool. Is the chlorine causing a problem for them? Do they instinctively react to drinking contaminated water?
I don’t know how we can protect wildlife from the thousands of swimming pools in our province.
Lyn Arscott, Danville
BEST LINE: Like many things in life, the bottom line is that individuals do what they can, which together will make a huge difference.
While drinking chlorinated water is not good for animals or humans, it depends on how chlorinated the water is and how much the animals are drinking. Some animals may have instincts that keep them from drinking heavily polluted water, but when thirsty, all creatures tend to be careful of the wind and drink deeply.
In the case of pool water, birds can be most affected by chlorine, especially ducks and geese. In addition to the toxicity factor, chlorine can irritate their skin.
The most frequent visitors to our yards, from squirrels to deer, are better able to handle the chlorine, which can take about 12 hours to leave the body. However, excessive consumption can harm the kidneys.
The greater danger these animals face is not the chlorine in the water, but the water itself. A large number fall in while trying to bend over for a drink, and since most pools have tiled or plastered sides and a lip that extends over the edge of the pool, it’s not easy to climb out.
To make pools safer, keep chlorine levels low and install escape mechanisms for creatures that can tumble in — floating ramps for smaller animals to climb up and out of the pool and knotted nylon ropes dangling in the pool for the larger ones. Pool covers are also a good way to keep out unwanted swimmers, including pets. You can also provide an alternative source of clean drinking water, making the pool less tempting.
DEAR JOAN: I went to pick up the paper one morning this week and discovered a group of broken snail shells along the way, all plucked clean. I’ve seen evidence of this kind in other parts of my front yard, but this morning the grenades were so numerous it piqued my curiosity.
We have a lot of lizards, but I tend towards opossums, although I haven’t seen any. I posted this question on Nextdoor, but I was only given guesses.
Barbara Thurston, Castro Valley
BEST BARBARA: A large number of creatures rely on snails as part of their daily meals, including birds, lizards, opossums, raccoons, rats, and beetles, just to name a few. Since you found the shells in the morning, we can eliminate birds and lizards. For the most part, they are inactive at night.
The shells show a lot of damage, allowing rats to get hooked for once – rats tend to gnaw a hole in the shell and suck the snail out. Beetles can grab the snail without breaking the shell.
Since you haven’t mentioned any damage to your yard and yard, I’m going to cross raccoons off the suspect list and say it was most likely a possum or two. Or thank you, as the case may be.
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