Can tortoises prefer a certain substrate?

Eduardo Hernandez

Active Member
Mar 17, 2017
Location (City and/or State)
Orange County, California
I’ve had my Russian for about 3 years now. We started him off in coco coir, which he seemed to enjoy. He loved digging in it, but it was too messy and got into his food/water bowls constantly.

We ended up switching it out for orchid bark. it’s been much better, cleaner, and looks a lot nicer! That was about 2 years ago. Ever since then, he doesn’t really dig as much, and just lays on top of the substrate to sleep. should we switch him back to the coco coir? I’ll put up with the messiness if it’ll make him happier. Nothing else has changed since we switched substrates.


Well-Known Member
Tortoise Club
Platinum Tortoise Club
Jun 25, 2018
Location (City and/or State)
Portland, OR
I did the same switch that you did and also noticed that my torts dug less so then I started using fir mulch in half of the enclosure just to compare. They both dig in the mulch more and it looks nice and isn’t as messy as the coco coir. Orchid bark is made of fir also but the mulch is just shredded instead of in chunks. That’s my 2 cents, hope it’s helpful.

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