I think I have decided on a substrate.

Tom

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I will go with a 50/50 mix of orchid bark and top soil, or should I use sand instead of orchid bark.
Is this a joke? We've been telling you continuously that soil isn't safe and sand is an impaction hazard. Why would you ask this question except to troll up trouble?

For anyone reading who does care about the welfare of their tortoise, neither soil, nor sand should be used as tortoise substrate.
 

TortoiseNoob9

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Is this a joke? We've been telling you continuously that soil isn't safe and sand is an impaction hazard. Why would you ask this question except to troll up trouble?

For anyone reading who does care about the welfare of their tortoise, neither soil, nor sand should be used as tortoise substrate.
Okay so you want me to just orchid bark. It is just everything on YouTube says to mix it with topsoil, so I thought it was stupid to assume that the bark was not meant to be mixed with something. However, if you just want me to use orchid bark I will try.
 

TammyJ

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Okay so you want me to just orchid bark. It is just everything on YouTube says to mix it with topsoil, so I thought it was stupid to assume that the bark was not meant to be mixed with something. However, if you just want me to use orchid bark I will try.
For your information, it's not a matter of what Tom wants you to do. It is what is right for your tortoise. Tom absolutely knows what is the correct thing and has been trying to tell you, but you have your own ideas and convenience and you have a problem listening. For your little tortoise sake and good health, simply follow Tom's advice and that is all you need to do.
 

ZEROPILOT

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For the sake of your own sanity and your tortoises well being, I strongly suggest ignoring anything you see or hear on any FB group or elsewhere on the internet.
This group has thousands of members from all over the planet and our information is free and made from first hand experience.
It's also 100% up to date
 

TortulandiaMPS

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For the sake of your own sanity and your tortoises well being, I strongly suggest ignoring anything you see or hear on any FB group or elsewhere on the internet.
This group has thousands of members from all over the planet and our information is free and made from first hand experience.
It's also 100% up to date
Amen!!!!. well said
 

Tom

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Okay so you want me to just orchid bark. It is just everything on YouTube says to mix it with topsoil, so I thought it was stupid to assume that the bark was not meant to be mixed with something. However, if you just want me to use orchid bark I will try.
Here is a recap on the points we are trying to get across in an effort to help you and your tortoise:
1. Most of the care info you find out in the world about tortoise care is just plain wrong. I tried to watch YT videos on how to raise a sulcata baby. I watched 12 videos in a row and ALL of them kept saying the same wrong info. I kept hoping for just one to be at least partially good, and none of them were. YT, FB, pet stores, breeders, vets... They all get their info from the same wrong sources you were getting your info from. I used to get my info that way too, and it took me more than a decade to figure out that is was all wrong and why it was wrong. Its taken me more than another decade of trial and error, experimentation, and conference with other keepers around the world to discover what works best and why. I'm sharing what I've learned after all these years with you in the hope that you won't have to learn it the hard way, as I have.
2. Soil is not safe to use under tortoises. Yes, lots of people do it. I did it too. Then I learned why not to do it.
3. Sand is not safe. I have several reptile vet friends and they deal with sand impaction several times a year because people watch YT and get told to use a sand soil mixture. Don't do it.
4. Damp hand packed coco coir works well for Testudo or desert tortoise babies. Damp fine grade orchid bark works best for everything else.

If any of this is not clear, or if you have any other questions, please feel free to ask them. I don't want you do it because "I said so". I want to explain why what I'm telling you is the right info and why that other info that you have seen so much of is wrong.
 

TortoiseNoob9

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Here is a recap on the points we are trying to get across in an effort to help you and your tortoise:
1. Most of the care info you find out in the world about tortoise care is just plain wrong. I tried to watch YT videos on how to raise a sulcata baby. I watched 12 videos in a row and ALL of them kept saying the same wrong info. I kept hoping for just one to be at least partially good, and none of them were. YT, FB, pet stores, breeders, vets... They all get their info from the same wrong sources you were getting your info from. I used to get my info that way too, and it took me more than a decade to figure out that is was all wrong and why it was wrong. Its taken me more than another decade of trial and error, experimentation, and conference with other keepers around the world to discover what works best and why. I'm sharing what I've learned after all these years with you in the hope that you won't have to learn it the hard way, as I have.
2. Soil is not safe to use under tortoises. Yes, lots of people do it. I did it too. Then I learned why not to do it.
3. Sand is not safe. I have several reptile vet friends and they deal with sand impaction several times a year because people watch YT and get told to use a sand soil mixture. Don't do it.
4. Damp hand packed coco coir works well for Testudo or desert tortoise babies. Damp fine grade orchid bark works best for everything else.

If any of this is not clear, or if you have any other questions, please feel free to ask them. I don't want you do it because "I said so". I want to explain why what I'm telling you is the right info and why that other info that you have seen so much of is wrong.
Thank you so much for your help. However, can you explain to me why orchid bark is so good. I will use it. I'm just curious. I know that it is too big for tortoises to eat. However, what is the difference between this bark and say cypress mulch. Is it that orchid bark is small enough that tortoises can still Burrough? Is it because it is cheep?
 

Tom

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Thank you so much for your help. However, can you explain to me why orchid bark is so good. I will use it. I'm just curious. I know that it is too big for tortoises to eat. However, what is the difference between this bark and say cypress mulch. Is it that orchid bark is small enough that tortoises can still Burrough? Is it because it is cheep?
Of all the good and bad points, all considerations, orchid bark simply works the best. Its the best of all possible compromises. It doesn't cause impaction. It doesn't mold or encourage fungus or bacteria. It holds moisture well and increase humidity while remaining relatively dry on the surface which prevents shell rot for red foots and yellow foots, but is probably good for all species. Cypress mulch is similar in these ways, but orchid barks wins out in my opinion because: 1. It does't smell swampy. 2. The pieces are more uniform. 3. It doesn't have the sharp points that cypress mulch usually has.

All these points above may or may not sound good to whoever may be reading this, but what is undeniable is that I have been using it without issue for more than two decades. I have started brand new hatchlings of 8 different species, and housed many other species on it for all those years and never had any problems. We are talking about a sample size of over 1000 tortoises. I can't say the same for sand, soil, or any other substrates.
 

Yvonne G

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I do t understand why no soil or sand they live in soil and sand in nature?
Because they don't eat all that much off the ground. They bite off bits of growing plants. . . a blade of grass, a leaf off a stem, etc. not off a feeding platform that gets sand and dirt tracked onto it.
 

Tom

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I do t understand why no soil or sand they live in soil and sand in nature?
In addition to what Yvonne said, there is no man made soil in nature. Bought-in-a-bag soil from the store is made up of all sorts of weird stuff and unknown composted yard waste. Could be anything. Could be oleander, could be pesticidal sprayed grass clippings during mosquito season, could be leaves from a toxic tree. There is no way to know and the makers do not intend for small animals to be living in/on it.

Also, while we see sand impaction in captive tortoises frequently, I can't recall one single case of sand impaction in a wild tortoise. Our enclosures are not the wild. Plain and simple.
 

Retiree

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For your information, it's not a matter of what Tom wants you to do. It is what is right for your tortoise. Tom absolutely knows what is the correct thing and has been trying to tell you, but you have your own ideas and convenience and you have a problem listening. For your little tortoise sake and good health, simply follow Tom's advice and that is all you need to do.
In addition to what Yvonne said, there is no man made soil in nature. Bought-in-a-bag soil from the store is made up of all sorts of weird stuff and unknown composted yard waste. Could be anything. Could be oleander, could be pesticidal sprayed grass clippings during mosquito season, could be leaves from a toxic tree. There is no way to know and the makers do not intend for small animals to be living in/on it.

Also, while we see sand impaction in captive tortoises frequently, I can't recall one single case of sand impaction in a wild tortoise. Our enclosures are not the wild. Plain and simple.
Impaction from substrate is caused by poor husbandry, not from loose substrates. Do your due diligence. It is not seen in the wild because no flawed conditions exist in the wild.
 

TammyJ

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"The Wild". What is it anyway? It's what we do not provide, but nature does. However, "flawed" conditions do indeed exist in "the wild". Landslides, floods, drought, predators, etc. etc. Animals come and go on their way, escaping (sometimes) those "flawed" conditions. But they cannot escape our husbandry, good or bad. If they eat topsoil and die, that's because they were trapped in it, not just passing through. My two cents.
 

Tom

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Impaction from substrate is caused by poor husbandry, not from loose substrates. Do your due diligence. It is not seen in the wild because no flawed conditions exist in the wild.
Impaction can be caused by many factors. Poor husbandry being one of them. Using sand as substrate is poor husbandry. I have no problem with "loose" substrates and use them myself. I have a problem with potentially toxic substrates like soil, and substrate that are known to cause impaction like peat moss or sand. I've been keeping chelonians since 1979. I have been running experiments on tortoise care, and sharing the results publicly here with myriad species for decades. I go to annual tortoise care conferences. I've hatched and started over 1000 tortoise babies of many species. I maintain adults of several species that I've raised myself from hatchlings. Do my due diligence? Just how much diligence is due? Sounds like you might need to take your own advice and learn who you are talking to.
 

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