Dust issues with Mulch and Coco Coir

Redstrike

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Hi all,

I've kept redfoots (4) in the northeastern US for about 9 years. I see a lot of recommendations for cypress and hardwood mulch and coconut coir for our tortoises. I've used both and I have to say I'm concerned with the level of dust present in each. Occasionally I turn-over my mulch substrate for aeration and notice it's unbelievably dusty! I do add water for humidification but mulch is not exceptionally absorbent and the water isn't great at dust reduction in the long-run. I'm unable to obtain cypress mulch currently but have access to hardwood mulch. It's loaded with fungal knats, which is another strike against it!

I see a lot of statements turning folks away from sand and soil. I agree that playground sand is not a good substrate if used exclusively. It's likely difficult for a tortoise to walk on, dusty, and could lead to impactions if the animal(s) consume it. However, I'm curious about topsoils and soil mixes, especially in the context of a bioactive substrate. Specifically, I'm curious about the following:

Has/is anyone using anything different than mulch and coconut coir? Are you using a mixture/bioactive substrate?

How's the dust if you were to move things around?

What size enclosure are you using it for and how many tortoises?

Thanks for your thoughts.

@cdmay @allegraf @Madkins007 @Tom @Yvonne G @CharlieM - these are folks I'm familiar with, please everyone and anyone contribute to the thread.
 

Tom

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Hi all,

I've kept redfoots (4) in the northeastern US for about 9 years. I see a lot of recommendations for cypress and hardwood mulch and coconut coir for our tortoises. I've used both and I have to say I'm concerned with the level of dust present in each. Occasionally I turn-over my mulch substrate for aeration and notice it's unbelievably dusty! I do add water for humidification but mulch is not exceptionally absorbent and the water isn't great at dust reduction in the long-run. I'm unable to obtain cypress mulch currently but have access to hardwood mulch. It's loaded with fungal knats, which is another strike against it!

I see a lot of statements turning folks away from sand and soil. I agree that playground sand is not a good substrate if used exclusively. It's likely difficult for a tortoise to walk on, dusty, and could lead to impactions if the animal(s) consume it. However, I'm curious about topsoils and soil mixes, especially in the context of a bioactive substrate. Specifically, I'm curious about the following:

Has/is anyone using anything different than mulch and coconut coir? Are you using a mixture/bioactive substrate?

How's the dust if you were to move things around?

What size enclosure are you using it for and how many tortoises?

Thanks for your thoughts.

@cdmay @allegraf @Madkins007 @Tom @Yvonne G @CharlieM - these are folks I'm familiar with, please everyone and anyone contribute to the thread.
I wouldn't use hardwood mulch. Fir bark or cypress only. Coco coir is too messy for most tortoises, but I use it for baby Testudo or DTs.

If your substrate is the least bit dusty, it is far too dry. Damp substrate has no dust.

The gnats you mentioned are called phorid flies. They are harmless detrivores and they come from the surrounding environment. They colonize warm humid areas like our tortoise substrate. In most cases they do not come from the substrate, they find the substrate and move in because it creates ideal living conditions for them.

Sand should never be used in any capacity. Its an impaction risk even when mixed with other things. Witness, hear and smell one impaction surgery, and you won't want to use it. Ever.

Bought-in-a-bag soil is made from composted yard waste. There is no way to know what is in it. Could be something safe and inert, or it could be oleander clippings mixed with flea sprayed grass clippings. No way to know. They also tend to put additives in soil. "Sterile" soil is no different. Best to not use it, unless you want to make your own soil from known safe ingredients.
 

DaisyDuke

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Messages
251
Hi all,

I've kept redfoots (4) in the northeastern US for about 9 years. I see a lot of recommendations for cypress and hardwood mulch and coconut coir for our tortoises. I've used both and I have to say I'm concerned with the level of dust present in each. Occasionally I turn-over my mulch substrate for aeration and notice it's unbelievably dusty! I do add water for humidification but mulch is not exceptionally absorbent and the water isn't great at dust reduction in the long-run. I'm unable to obtain cypress mulch currently but have access to hardwood mulch. It's loaded with fungal knats, which is another strike against it!

I see a lot of statements turning folks away from sand and soil. I agree that playground sand is not a good substrate if used exclusively. It's likely difficult for a tortoise to walk on, dusty, and could lead to impactions if the animal(s) consume it. However, I'm curious about topsoils and soil mixes, especially in the context of a bioactive substrate. Specifically, I'm curious about the following:

Has/is anyone using anything different than mulch and coconut coir? Are you using a mixture/bioactive substrate?

How's the dust if you were to move things around?

What size enclosure are you using it for and how many tortoises?

Thanks for your thoughts.

@cdmay @allegraf @Madkins007 @Tom @Yvonne G @CharlieM - these are folks I'm familiar with, please everyone and anyone contribute to the thread.

I'm in the same boat as you, also in the north east. No matter how much I wet the coir it always turns to dust. The dust in my house is now brown so I can only imagine my family has been breathing it in. I looked at the back of the packages of bark and there is a cancer warning. If you find anything good I would be interested in knowing.
 

Tom

The Dog Trainer
10 Year Member!
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Location (City and/or State)
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I'm in the same boat as you, also in the north east. No matter how much I wet the coir it always turns to dust. The dust in my house is now brown so I can only imagine my family has been breathing it in. I looked at the back of the packages of bark and there is a cancer warning. If you find anything good I would be interested in knowing.
Water solves this problem. Surface spraying does nothing. You have to dump water into the coir. How much and how often varies greatly. If your substrate is drying out that fast, it indicates major enclosure problems for your tortoise. A closed chamber solves these problems.
 

DaisyDuke

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Water solves this problem. Surface spraying does nothing. You have to dump water into the coir. How much and how often varies greatly. If your substrate is drying out that fast, it indicates major enclosure problems for your tortoise. A closed chamber solves these problems.

If water solved this problem I wouldn’t be having it. My enclosure is pretty closed. Aside from a small screened area. Even dumping buckets daily there are still areas that dry out that much. I’m just looking for what is safest to use.
 

Redstrike

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I think the northeast climate is the biggest issue here. I have a fully closed chamber. There are no openings.

The problem is that my heat panel runs constantly to maintain the 80F temperature on the cool end and 86F on the warm, bright end. So, it would take constant buckets of water to reduce the dust. That's my only solution thus far...more water.
 

Beasty_Artemis

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Hmmmm, in 4 years I must be hitting the perfect mark on humidity in my redfoot table. But I recently converted to coco coir streight up. And it turned out to be supremely superior to cypress mulch, I found. I resisted as long as I could, to no avail. The stuff always maintains moisture levels with little effort on my part really.
 
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