Cypress mulch talk, again

haydog_99

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Rocklin, CA
Hello group, I'm relatively new to the tortoise world and as many people know the information out there varies GREATLY. I trust this group and I've read many of the past threads about cypress mulch here. Wanted to just confirm people here are OK with some mulch (forest floor specifically) in a yearling leopard tortoise enclosure(also has coir, soil). My leopard Facebook page says to not to use it but then people other places do use it and often.
Thoughts? I mistakenly bought quite a bit of it so I wanted to use it...IF it's safe only. Otherwise oh well money lost. Not important compared to my torts health. Tort pic because...its cute.
when I put down the "forest floor" my tort immediately tried to eat the small pieces of wood. I have tied a couple different substrates and now I am using the Eco Earth Loose Coconut Fiber and I like it so far, it holds moisture really good. It's a little messy but was less messy than any of the dirt based subsrtates and my tort doesn't try and eat it. I was going to go with the bark but I was afraid he may ingest a small piece and then end up with compaction.
 
L

LasTortugasNinja

Guest
I thought pine was bad for torts? I'm having a hard time finding large amounts of fir bark so is pine bark OK to use instead?
You gotta be careful on what sort of pine you use. Pine is often just a generic term that covers thousands of tree species. Cedar, juniper, cypress, and fir all are "pine trees" or conifers. While technically Pine trees are only conifers of the family Pinaceae, for the purposes of home garden agriculture, everything gets tossed together.

My general rule over 30 years of animal keeping: If it is sticky or smelly, it's not good for animals. If it just smells like wet dirt, it's fine. Nice thing about bags from the general home maintenance/garden stores is you can always find a bag that is torn making it easy to feel and smell the content. I use a "white Pine" that is 100% farmed cypress and fir wood on the "ingredients" panel (guy who worked there never heard of cypress mulch in 30+ years of being in the garden business!). No sap, no smell to it. I've also used other bulk wood chips in the past that didn't list their blends, but still fell under my "no smell, no sap" rule and never had problems with reptiles or mammals. The only animals you really have to be very careful with are amphibians, because they absorb EVERYTHING through their skin, and are far more sensitive.
 

Dbrocato2

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Apr 29, 2020
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107
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Taunton, MA
You gotta be careful on what sort of pine you use. Pine is often just a generic term that covers thousands of tree species. Cedar, juniper, cypress, and fir all are "pine trees" or conifers. While technically Pine trees are only conifers of the family Pinaceae, for the purposes of home garden agriculture, everything gets tossed together.

My general rule over 30 years of animal keeping: If it is sticky or smelly, it's not good for animals. If it just smells like wet dirt, it's fine. Nice thing about bags from the general home maintenance/garden stores is you can always find a bag that is torn making it easy to feel and smell the content. I use a "white Pine" that is 100% farmed cypress and fir wood on the "ingredients" panel (guy who worked there never heard of cypress mulch in 30+ years of being in the garden business!). No sap, no smell to it. I've also used other bulk wood chips in the past that didn't list their blends, but still fell under my "no smell, no sap" rule and never had problems with reptiles or mammals. The only animals you really have to be very careful with are amphibians, because they absorb EVERYTHING through their skin, and are far more sensitive.
This has been sooooo helpful! I live in MA and finding cypress mulch or fir bark has been impossible!
 

ZyleZuin

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Del Mar, CA
Sorry for digging up an old thread, but I was curious as I was reading; with the various recommendations and experiences if, as an additional data point, you are using an open top table or an enclosed box. Humidity maintenance (~80%) obviously changes in difficulty depending on if its open or closed. Would coco, cypress, fir, pine, top soil, or blends perform differently on open or closed environments? Does one work best for both or is one more suited for one type of enclosure?
 

Srmcclure

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Oklahoma city
Sorry for digging up an old thread, but I was curious as I was reading; with the various recommendations and experiences if, as an additional data point, you are using an open top table or an enclosed box. Humidity maintenance (~80%) obviously changes in difficulty depending on if its open or closed. Would coco, cypress, fir, pine, top soil, or blends perform differently on open or closed environments? Does one work best for both or is one more suited for one type of enclosure?
Fir bark, coco coir and cypress are all good all around. I use cypress because its much easier for me to find. I use 2 closed chambers just as a heads up.
 

ZyleZuin

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Del Mar, CA
Fir bark, coco coir and cypress are all good all around. I use cypress because its much easier for me to find. I use 2 closed chambers just as a heads up.
Thanks, we're using cypress bark (zoomed forest floor), but its bark size feels a bit large for our 2 month old. Looking at moving to orchid/fir. It'll be in an open top wooden table (9" tall walls). We are blocks from the beach in San Diego, my ecobee thermostat located a few feet from the table tells me our humidity stays pretty high inside all the time. I'm going to see if I can keep the humidity up. If not I'll go back out to my woodshed and make an enclosed one.

Does anyone have recommendations for orchid bark online? I can't find any at HD/Lowes in SoCal. Alternatively I can use repti bark that's easy enough to find at petco/petsmart. Anyone have good experience with a product they got on amazon?
 

jsheffield

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I use a mix of orchid bark, cypress mulch and coconut husk-chunks in my enclosures... Douglass fir (which is what orchid bark is the bark of) is a member of the pine family and is fine for tortoises. Cypress wood can have aromatics similar to pine and cedar, but the mulched bark does not.

The stuff you shouldn't be using is wood shavings of pine or cedar (or cypress, I guess, although I've never seen those in stores or online, so it's probably not worth worrying about), but the bark and mulch are fine to use.

FB tortoise groups are a great place to share pictures, but a lousy place to find useful information about providing good care for the tortoises that live with you.

Jamie
 

Srmcclure

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Joined
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686
Location (City and/or State)
Oklahoma city
Thanks, we're using cypress bark (zoomed forest floor), but its bark size feels a bit large for our 2 month old. Looking at moving to orchid/fir. It'll be in an open top wooden table (9" tall walls). We are blocks from the beach in San Diego, my ecobee thermostat located a few feet from the table tells me our humidity stays pretty high inside all the time. I'm going to see if I can keep the humidity up. If not I'll go back out to my woodshed and make an enclosed one.

Does anyone have recommendations for orchid bark online? I can't find any at HD/Lowes in SoCal. Alternatively I can use repti bark that's easy enough to find at petco/petsmart. Anyone have good experience with a product they got on amazon?
I just bought my cypress from a plant nursery. The pieces are pretty small. I don't like paying petstore prices for the same thing lol.

I would just stick with a closed chamber. Easier to heat evenly and cheaper on the electric too because the che isn't trying to heat that whole room, just that small room you made, so it doesn't have to stay on the whole time. Mine only kicks on a small handful of times a day and it stays in range for both my different species. Plus, I guess I'm weird, I hate summer. I'm a cold loving person so anything that can potentially make my house hotter in summer is a no go. Closed chamber all the way for so many reasons lol.
 

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