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Is boiled pine bark safe?

Discussion in 'Tortoise Enclosure Substrate' started by zianos, Sep 9, 2019.

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  1. zianos

    zianos New Member

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    I have greek tortoise. I already know cedar and pine is inappropriate but only thing i can get.
    Then my plan is boil and dry to sunshine twice. What do you think about my plan? Please tell me
  2. lilly_sand99

    lilly_sand99 Active Member

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    The problem is that pine contains oils that are toxic. The oils will still be there after boiling and baking them in the sun.

    Do you have any access to cypress? Or even the coconut dirt? These two are safer options!

    Hi and welcome!
  3. jsheffield

    jsheffield Well-Known Member Platinum Tortoise Club Tortoise Club

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    I keep seeing this warning against pine bark mulch, and can't help wondering if this is another one of those bits of tortoise-related dogma that persists simply because it's so deeply embedded...

    Orchid bark, an "acceptable" substrate for tortoises, is not bark collected from orchids but chipped pine bark, which is essentially what pine bark mulch is made from.

    Cypress mulch, another "acceptable" substrate, derives from a conifer related to pine, cypress contains many of the same (or similar) terpenes as pine.

    I use orchid bark and cypress mulch, but wonder about it every time I see this come up in a thread... I wouldn't even bother to raise the issue in the tort-groups on FB, as they're so fiercely dogmatic that simply questioning something that goes contrary to ACCEPTED WISDOM can get you booted from many of the groups, but I figured it was safe to share my thoughts here.

    Jamie
  4. lilly_sand99

    lilly_sand99 Active Member

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    Isn’t the pine mulch all of the tree? Including the inside? I am sure that the inside of the pine tree is where many of the oils or sap is. The bark wouldn’t have as many of these oils, because the bark is used for protection. And maybe the cypress mulch is like the tomato of the nightshade family?
    Maybe I have no idea what I am talking about....
  5. jsheffield

    jsheffield Well-Known Member Platinum Tortoise Club Tortoise Club

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    I'm not sure either, but it makes me wonder.

    J
  6. Maro2Bear

    Maro2Bear Well-Known Member 5 Year Member

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    All that said, i would THINK that boiling pine shavings and then drying out would surely help diminish any of the “harmful” pine resins that we warn against. But, that sure does sound like quite the process. Once again,I’m guessing a lot depends.

    Pine bark vs pine shavings, again....a lot depends what we are discussing as opposed to what is really sold. Is it the same product in South Korea where the OP is based, compared to whats available in pet stores, feed stores, in the US or WalMart, etc.
  7. Yvonne G

    Yvonne G Old Timer TFO Admin 10 Year Member! Platinum Tortoise Club

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    Orchid bark if from fir trees, not pine trees.

    Way back when, the reason for touting orchid bark was because orchids won't grow or do well if there were any additives in their growing medium. So orchid bark, processed fir bark, was manufactured without any additives, fillers or things that would be harmful to the orchids. It's a 'pure' product, and is not harmful if ingested and doesn't cause impaction. Tom has found fir bark at a big box home improvement store, but it's not "orchid" bark, and so I wouldn't use it because it may not be as pure as I would want my substrate to be. But he uses it with no problems.

    Cedar and pine contain aromatic oils that can be harmful to young tortoises. Fir and cypress do not.
    Last edited: Sep 10, 2019
    Tom and TammyJ like this.
  8. jsheffield

    jsheffield Well-Known Member Platinum Tortoise Club Tortoise Club

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    Thanks.

    J
  9. Jules321

    Jules321 New Member

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    You say young tortoises-is there anything that shows pine is safe for older tortoises? I haven't seen a distinction relative to age in my searches. I dont plan on giving it to Duster (age 20) but I've been a bit stressed about the amount of pine in my neighborhood. I was thinking I should avoid taking him anywhere near pine.
  10. TechnoCheese

    TechnoCheese Well-Known Member

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    Keep in mind that fir bark is also kiln dried for orchid bark. I believe that kiln dried pine is alright, but I’m not sure about boiling.
  11. Maro2Bear

    Maro2Bear Well-Known Member 5 Year Member

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    Back to our discussion...if “Orchid Bark” is composed from Fir Trees and is ok...

    Fir Trees are indeed part of the general pine tree family..and most closely related to Cedar (which we say is bad for torts).


    Per Mr Wiki

    Firs (Abies) are a genus of 48–56 species of evergreen coniferous trees in the family Pinaceae. They are found through much of North and Central America, Europe, Asia, and North Africa, occurring in mountains over most of the range. Firs are most closely related to the genus Cedrus (cedar). Douglas firs are not true firs, being of the genus Pseudotsuga.
  12. jsheffield

    jsheffield Well-Known Member Platinum Tortoise Club Tortoise Club

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    They all produce terpenes also....

    J

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