NEWS FLASH! DON'T USE PEAT UNDER TORTOISES!

Tom

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Many substrates are recommended here on TFO. Peat moss is one of them sometimes. I just got home from visiting a friend who keeps and breeds several species of tortoises. He uses coco coir as substrate for his hold backs and babies in their indoor enclosures, but he decided to try using peat instead. Not the long fibered type, but the type that is like dirt or coco coir in consistency. Turns out it is a bad idea.

For the first time, I saw shell rot in a young leopard tortoise and on a radiata as well. They've never had shell rot before, and they were able to clear it up immediately by swapping back to coco coir and treating the fungus.

Live and learn. I didn't think peat was bad for them to be on, but it turns out I was wrong.

I don't care for coco coir under leopards because I find it too messy, but it is not unsafe. I prefer fine grade orchid bark. Likewise, I don't care for cypress mulch, but I've never seen it cause a problem.
 

Brit G

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Interesting to know. I struggle to find anything but coconut coir. Cannot find orchid bark without additives at garden centers.
 
P

pguinpro

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Please post where you purchase your orchid bark as none of your suggestions are ever available at stores, thanks in advance.
 

Tom

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Any local garden center should either have it or be able to get it. It is also called "fir bark". People grow orchids all over the country. Ask your local garden center what they are using. Here is the brand I've been using for the last few years. It costs $11 for a 2.0 cu. ft. bag about 3 miles from my house.
Orchid Bark.JPG
 

TechnoCheese

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Well, that sucks. I’m currently using peat moss and cypress mulch, lol.

Do you think it would be fine with a layer of cypress mulch on top? That’s how I currently have it.
 

Tom

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Well, that sucks. I’m currently using peat moss and cypress mulch, lol.

Do you think it would be fine with a layer of cypress mulch on top? That’s how I currently have it.
I don't have that answer. There is apparently some property of the peat moss that damages the integrity of their plastron and allows fungus to take hold. I wouldn't use it ever after seeing what I saw last night.
 

xphare

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That is interesting to hear. I use coco coir with cypress mixed in and it can be messy when dry but I find it easier to use when its moist. When its dry and the tortoise walks through the water dish its all over their legs.
 

Moozillion

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Many substrates are recommended here on TFO. Peat moss is one of them sometimes. I just got home from visiting a friend who keeps and breeds several species of tortoises. He uses coco coir as substrate for his hold backs and babies in their indoor enclosures, but he decided to try using peat instead. Not the long fibered type, but the type that is like dirt or coco coir in consistency. Turns out it is a bad idea.

For the first time, I saw shell rot in a young leopard tortoise and on a radiata as well. They've never had shell rot before, and they were able to clear it up immediately by swapping back to coco coir and treating the fungus.

Live and learn. I didn't think peat was bad for them to be on, but it turns out I was wrong.

I don't care for coco coir under leopards because I find it too messy, but it is not unsafe. I prefer fine grade orchid bark. Likewise, I don't care for cypress mulch, but I've never seen it cause a problem.

WOW!!!
Good to know!!![emoji33]
 

KatApril

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Peat is an acidic soil, we use it in aquariums to "soften" water, literally absorb the carbonates(ie calcium carbonate thats in your reptical) and minerals out. Spelling for a tortoise shell: bad idea. Most barks will acidify the soil. Even the coco coir (close to neutral) will eventually acidify with enough ammonia organics est. that is why frequent changing out is i think a good idea to prevent any negative impacts

Soils of the sahel run alkaline-neutral. They are a mix of sand and clay mostly sandstone and some limestone, high iron laterite (red color). This soil keeps itself from over acidifying to any significant degree.

My theory is once you start seeing those pesky fungus gnats explode, more then likely your dealing with moist soil thats gone slightly acidic and harbors an amount fungus/mold which those suckers thrive on. This is when i change out, and itll be ok for a month or so.

http://oxfordre.com/climatescience/...0228620.001.0001/acrefore-9780190228620-e-510
 

wellington

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Peat is an acidic soil, we use it in aquariums to "soften" water, literally absorb the carbonates(ie calcium carbonate thats in your reptical) and minerals out. Spelling for a tortoise shell: bad idea. Most barks will acidify the soil. Even the coco coir (close to neutral) will eventually acidify with enough ammonia organics est. that is why frequent changing out is i think a good idea to prevent any negative impacts

Soils of the sahel run alkaline-neutral. They are a mix of sand and clay mostly sandstone and some limestone, high iron laterite (red color). This soil keeps itself from over acidifying to any significant degree.

My theory is once you start seeing those pesky fungus gnats explode, more then likely your dealing with moist soil thats gone slightly acidic and harbors an amount fungus/mold which those suckers thrive on. This is when i change out, and itll be ok for a month or so.

http://oxfordre.com/climatescience/...0228620.001.0001/acrefore-9780190228620-e-510
I have used coconut coir for at least a year or more with never changing it. Never had a problem. Always wet/high humidity. Spot cleaning only.
 

KatApril

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Wellington you never had fungus gnats or creepy crawlies/worms/flies with yours? Unfortunatley i have never not had an issue with it lol, always the pesky fungus gnats even in planters and such as it comes already contaminated from many suppliers its just about how acidic i keep it. The planters that i run alkaline have no issues atall, but the neutral will have issues eventually, whereas acidic its a fungus gnat party 24/7.
 

PJay

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I have found that fungus gnats prefer a specific environment that if altered a bit will lead to their demise. When fungus gnats make an appearance, I increase the moisture level in my coconut coir and within a week or so new gnats stop hatching. This works great for species that appreciate the higher moisture levels like box and leaf turtles. As an added benefit, the wet coir tends to bind together better and less ends up in the water dish.
 

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