Do birds and endangered wildlife drink from a Danville swimming pool?

DEAR JOAN: I notice a variety of animals and birds drinking from my pool. Is chlorine a problem for them? Do they have an instinctive reaction against drinking contaminated water?

I don’t know how we could protect the wildlife of the thousands of pools in our county.

Lyn Arscott, Danville

DEAR LYN: Like many things in life, it’s about individuals doing what they can, which collectively will make a huge difference.

Although drinking chlorinated water is not good for animals or humans, it depends on how chlorinated the water is and how much the animals drink. Some animals may have instincts that would prevent them from drinking heavily contaminated water, but when thirsty, all creatures tend to ignore the wind and drink deeply.

In the case of swimming pool water, birds could be most affected by chlorine, especially ducks and geese. In addition to the toxicity factor, chlorine can irritate their skin.

The most common visitors to our yards, from squirrels to deer, are better able to deal with chlorine, which can take around 12 hours to leave the body. However, excessive consumption can damage the kidneys.

The greatest danger these animals face is not the chlorine in the water, but the water itself. A good number fall when trying to bend over to get a drink, and since most pools have tiled or plastered sides as well as a ledge that extends down the side of the pool, getting out is not easy to manage. .

To make swimming pools safer, keep chlorine levels low and install escape mechanisms for creatures that might fall – floating ramps for small animals to get in and out of the pool and knotted nylon ropes that hang in the swimming pool for the older ones. Pool covers are also a good way to keep out unwanted swimmers, including pets. You can also provide another source of clean drinking water, which makes the pool less tempting.

DEAR JOAN: I went to get the newspaper one morning this week and discovered a group of broken snail shells on the boardwalk, all picked clean. I’ve seen this kind of evidence in other places in my front yard but this morning the shells were so plentiful it really piqued my curiosity.

We have lots of lizards, but I’m leaning towards opossums, although I haven’t seen any. I posted this question on Nextdoor, but all I got was guesses.

Barbara Thurston, Castro Valley

The remains of a snail feast litter a sidewalk in the Castro Valley, June 20, 2022. (Courtesy Barbara Thurston)

DEAR BARBARA: A large number of creatures rely on snails as part of their daily meals, including birds, lizards, opossums, raccoons, rats, and beetles, to name a few. Because you found the shells in the morning, we can eliminate birds and lizards. Most of them are inactive at night.

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