Play sand type

smarch

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Hello,
When I first got my Russian Franklin I got the reptisand because it made sense to me at the time and I hadn't read about all the inpactions and problems it could cause, so soon after that I bought reptibark and have been using it since. My only problem is the bugs that show up and how much of a mess he can make easily rearranging things in the mulch.
Outside he goes in our old sandbox which has grown plants and I dug out a corner and put in mulch. But he seems to enjoy the sand so much more, and I know I've read about play sand and topsoil mix as a good substrate. So that's what I want to do next, but I noticed when I got play sand for my fish tank as suggested by a member here, that I got a white one that was 'desert blend' because I liked the color for the fish. I noticed when I added the extras of the bag to the corner of Frank's outside enclosure, that the grains in this play sand are much bigger. So when I do the play sand soil mix for inside, which is safer for my little man, the finer grained that's almost soft to the touch or the larger grain that's more coarse? I understand impaction some but not really what about sand makes that happen, so I feel like it is the softer sand that's safer since that's already what I had my mind on.

Sand+soil=way cheaper than the reptibark too!

Thanks guys <3
 

JoesMum

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No sand is good sand. It sticks to food and easily ingested, it then impacts in the gut and causes serious health problems. Please use a different substrate. Orchid bark, coco coir or Cypress mulch are usually recommended.
 

Tom

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If you are buying reptibark at a pet store then yes, it is expensive. If you buy in bulk at the hardware store its only $4-5 for a 2.0 cubic foot bag, which is much cheaper than sand or soil.

I recommend against sand.

Do you have a good tortoise vet. I mean one that really knows tortoises? Ask him/her to see the x-rays of sand impacted tortoises and the surgical pictures of them sawing open the shell and cutting into the intestines to remove the sand. You might change your mind after that.
 
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dmmj

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Make your decision,after knowing this. Sand does not digest, break down. I like to use substrate that when it is ingested,it can be digested if necessary.
 

smarch

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What kind of mulch from the hardware stores can be used? I've looked before but none are non-pointy like the pet store stuff is...

And I swear I read quite a few posts here about sand soil mix, but if it's bad I won't do it because it's not safe.
As for the outdoor one I'm.keeping the sand, I have his plate on the mulch to keep from the sticking sand and he hardly ever munches anything growing inside because it's just the tall straggley grasses that seem to like sand, he's the happiest I ever see him in the sandbox, I think it has something to do with him being wild caught and it seeming most natural an environment. It sounds silly But it's just an observation.

And I have a good vet yes, so when Franklin needs a beak trim we'll be going for a check up and I'll ask. Is it similar to the eggs stuck and cutting in to remove them picture I've seen on facebook? That's scary, and I got a male to avoid those problems so the last thing I want is to create a similar problem myself!!
 

Jacqui

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I am one who does use the play sand mixture inside. On this site it is not liked, but on other sites it is a commonly used item with good results. Never use more then 20% sand and keep your animal well hydrated. I like the combo because it holds moisture well for me (I use it with coir myself). The mulch I see in the large volume in this area is very pointy and if ingested could cause issues too. However, I use it inside on my larger tortoises.
 

Tom

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At the hardware store the orchid bark is often called "Fir Bark" or "Pathway Bark". You'll have to cut open the bags to be sure you are getting the right stuff, but it looks the same as the stuff you'd buy in the pet stores.

When you ask your vet about the sand impaction pictures, ask him what percentage of the people who had a sand impacted tortoise thought that sand was fine because they read it in a book, heard it from an "expert", or saw it on a website. Everyone who uses it thinks its fine. They wouldn't use it if they didn't. Then one day they realize it is not fine.
 

Jacqui

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Everyone who uses it thinks its fine. They wouldn't use it if they didn't. Then one day they realize it is not fine.

Isn't that true of every thing? Of course without knowing the vast numbers who are kept on sand mixtures and have for years, it's hard to really make a good percentage comparisons as to how really bad it is. Folks tell the horror stories, but as a general rule never the good stories. In here telling the good stories of sand use gets you given a very hard time, which is why you won't hear of the good experiences in here (this forum is not good in sharing beliefs other then the one currently in favor in this forum which is sad). For instance just a couple of years back we had a member who was proud of breeding her sulcatas. Geesh she was almost publically verbally stoned for it (and left the site). Now it is an accepted thing in here. As you can tell, this is an area of big debate between Tom and I.
 

jaizei

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Isn't that true of every thing? Of course without knowing the vast numbers who are kept on sand mixtures and have for years, it's hard to really make a good percentage comparisons as to how really bad it is. Folks tell the horror stories, but as a general rule never the good stories. In here telling the good stories of sand use gets you given a very hard time, which is why you won't hear of the good experiences in here (this forum is not good in sharing beliefs other then the one currently in favor in this forum which is sad). For instance just a couple of years back we had a member who was proud of breeding her sulcatas. Geesh she was almost publically verbally stoned for it (and left the site). Now it is an accepted thing in here. As you can tell, this is an area of big debate between Tom and I.


I would also point out that many of these 'horror stories' are from the olden days when keeping tortoises dehydrated was in vogue. I've known of tortoises becoming impacted with mulch, 'regular' dirt, coir, gravel and pretty much any other substrate you can imagine.
 

Tom

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I would also point out that many of these 'horror stories' are from the olden days when keeping tortoises dehydrated was in vogue. I've known of tortoises becoming impacted with mulch, 'regular' dirt, coir, gravel and pretty much any other substrate you can imagine.

I have been seeing this since the olden days, that is true, but it has not slowed down at all.

These same vets that have shown me sand impaction x-rays have not shown or talked to me about impaction from mulch, dirt, or coir. I have seen a few gravel cases, but the vast majority of impactions I have seen were from sand. I have heard of tortoises eating mulch, dirt and coir, among other things, but in my travels I have not seen any impacted or needing surgery because of it. No doubt there has been one somewhere sometime, but as Jaqui noted, its a numbers game. I've personally seen around 20 sand impaction cases over the years, but I've never seen an orchid bark, coco coir or cypress mulch impaction case.
 

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Michael Ogle, a pioneer in breeding and keeping all members of the Pyxis genus, keeps his tortoises on a "sand and top soil mixture". A consent of someone that successful, for me, is worth a lot more then anecdotes (I say that loosely, I don't mean to offend anyone) and paranoia. I can think of many who use the same sand-mixture.

It interests me how many tortoises naturally live on sand or sand-like substrates in the wild. Perhaps there is a dietary element missing for these tortoises that is driving them to eat the sand. Just something to think about before sand is consigned to the junkyard.
 

smarch

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At the hardware store the orchid bark is often called "Fir Bark" or "Pathway Bark". You'll have to cut open the bags to be sure you are getting the right stuff, but it looks the same as the stuff you'd buy in the pet stores.

When you ask your vet about the sand impaction pictures, ask him what percentage of the people who had a sand impacted tortoise thought that sand was fine because they read it in a book, heard it from an "expert", or saw it on a website. Everyone who uses it thinks its fine. They wouldn't use it if they didn't. Then one day they realize it is not fine.

Alright so my problem of not finding it is solved, I really had no idea what name and know cedar mulch is a HUGE no-no for so many reasons. And in the future I really like the mulch because its not sharpness I think looks better than any cedar, and would definitely use it in my yard! and that way I could just add the stuff from the enclosure to gardens with the mulch just like it already there and sneak in all the fertilizing goodness :)

And I would have been those people thinking it was ok had I not joined here soon after getting Franklin because it only made sense to me desert=sand, and I was using straight petstore sand! I read on many sites about people using it and it being good.. but they were apperently just as ignorant as i was! So from not on I trust the "experts" on here because most of the big people here do this stuff for a living or keep many many tortoises successfully. So obviously when I found out how bad the was it was gone! But then here I started reading about play sand mixes and was thinking maybe theres just something about the repti-sand that's specifically bad, because play sand is so much softer and stuff.
But it being so debatable and stuff on its potential ok-ness versus badness I'll stick with the mulch since its either everything will be ok or bad things could happen, nothing really beneficial will come from it. And since i'm keeping his sand outside I guess i'd rather not keep him on it all the time. I guess its not really worth trying to defend the sand outside, but I just know its ok because he doesn't eat on it or anything that grows out of it, and its softer but not like super dry so he can walk on it without sinking and stuff. Plus theres the mulch and I'm working on getting ready to dig out another corner to put potting soil and planting lots of dandelion to let him graze. It may not be advised here but it works.

Yes it is. That is the whole point of pointing it out to people who will listen BEFORE there is a problem.
Thankfully i'd origionally found out about the badness of repti-sand before there was a problem, its the reason i'll ask here before I change literally anything, because when there is a problem its often too late, I mean I keep away money in case of emergency for frank (although I need to put away more since I recently learned how much blood work alone is!) but I know surgery would be ridiculously costly and risky, and knowing I put him in a situation would destroy me, since I took him on for the long commintment and companionship (well whatever companionship him doing his own thing and me enjoying watching him is... except when he's hungry because he's learned to sit at his food dish and "beg" for food by staring!!)
Michael Ogle, a pioneer in breeding and keeping all members of the Pyxis genus, keeps his tortoises on a "sand and top soil mixture". A consent of someone that successful, for me, is worth a lot more then anecdotes (I say that loosely, I don't mean to offend anyone) and paranoia. I can think of many who use the same sand-mixture.

It interests me how many tortoises naturally live on sand or sand-like substrates in the wild. Perhaps there is a dietary element missing for these tortoises that is driving them to eat the sand. Just something to think about before sand is consigned to the junkyard.
In specifically referring to the repti-sand, I did have yellow and orange mixed for the few months I did, and it comes in all sorts of colors, as I've learned from the occasional tomato, hibiscus and trying to nip at my nails when I have on bright colors, they like color, maybe the colorful sand looked yummy?
 

Tom

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Michael Ogle, a pioneer in breeding and keeping all members of the Pyxis genus, keeps his tortoises on a "sand and top soil mixture". A consent of someone that successful, for me, is worth a lot more then anecdotes (I say that loosely, I don't mean to offend anyone) and paranoia. I can think of many who use the same sand-mixture.

It interests me how many tortoises naturally live on sand or sand-like substrates in the wild. Perhaps there is a dietary element missing for these tortoises that is driving them to eat the sand. Just something to think about before sand is consigned to the junkyard.


How is Michael Ogle's experience any less anecdotal than mine or anyone else's? Ask one of the people who paid thousands of dollars to have their tortoise sawed open for sand removal how "anecdotal" they think this info is. How is calling my real world observations "paranoia" NOT offensive? I said above that I've seen around 20 actual veterinary cases of sand impacted tortoises and I have never even looked for these cases.. How does that meet the definition of paranoia? How much "anecdote" do you need?

On your last paragraph, this debate has been had many times here. What happens in the wild, or our perception of whatever happens in the wild, often does not work in our captive environments. This particular bit of info is no exception.

No one is saying that every tortoise that has any contact with any amount of sand is automatically going to die. What I am saying is that the risk associated with using any amount of sand is not worth it, when there are other alternatives that work perfectly and don't carry the risk.
 

akbecker

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I would be interested to know if the majority of impaction from sand is happening in tortoises when they are fed on a small plates or tiles - usually indoors. @JoesMum said that the sand sticks to the food and that is how it is ingested. I notice when I feed my leopard in her closed chamber, the top soil is often on the paver stone I use to feed on, and I have to brush it off each day before laying down new feed.

BUT - in my outdoor enclosure I built last year, before I knew not to use sand - it has a 30/70 sand/top soil mix - the grazing mix seed is growing like crazy, and when I see my Russian eat he likes the leaves that are slightly off the ground. So I'm thinking, maybe the impaction doesn't become an issue because the food isn't directly on the sand, and therefore less likely to have the sand stick to it and get ingested. Which might make sense why there is sand in the wild, but impaction isn't a problem, since wild torts are more likely to be grazing. Based on that logic, someone that has always raised their tortoises on free grazing, naturally growing, on a sand/soil mix might not have an issue with impaction and be fine with endorsing it.

Don't get me wrong, I don't want the vet bills or to harm my torts, and I'm phasing out my sand each season with more top soil. I was just trying to think of a reason for why so many websites endorse sand/soil mixes and don't mention the impaction issue...hmmmm

Then again - I've seen my leopard try to eat a small pebble before, despite ample amounts of fresh growing and supplemented food, so maybe they just eat whatever is around. And that wouldn't really account for sand in the wild and why impaction isn't an issue for them...
 

Tom

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I was just trying to think of a reason for why so many websites endorse sand/soil mixes and don't mention the impaction issue...hmmmm

Its because this is one of those incorrect, old, outdated things that just keeps getting repeated decade after decade. Just like raise your babies on rabbit pellets because if they eat them, it is digestible. Or only soak your tortoise once a week, because to much hydration will upset their "water balance". Or no need for a water bowl because they meet all their water needs through their food... Etc., etc., etc...

Think about it. What does sand actually "do" that other substrates don't do? Does it hold or retain more moisture than coir, mulch or orchid bark? What fantastic property is it that sand has, and no other substrate has, that we should all be taking this risk. Why not just use something that is not going to block up your tortoise regardless of circumstances. I have never used any sand substrate on any of my tortoises and year after year they are all just fine.
 

smarch

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I would be interested to know if the majority of impaction from sand is happening in tortoises when they are fed on a small plates or tiles - usually indoors. @JoesMum said that the sand sticks to the food and that is how it is ingested. I notice when I feed my leopard in her closed chamber, the top soil is often on the paver stone I use to feed on, and I have to brush it off each day before laying down new feed.

BUT - in my outdoor enclosure I built last year, before I knew not to use sand - it has a 30/70 sand/top soil mix - the grazing mix seed is growing like crazy, and when I see my Russian eat he likes the leaves that are slightly off the ground. So I'm thinking, maybe the impaction doesn't become an issue because the food isn't directly on the sand, and therefore less likely to have the sand stick to it and get ingested. Which might make sense why there is sand in the wild, but impaction isn't a problem, since wild torts are more likely to be grazing. Based on that logic, someone that has always raised their tortoises on free grazing, naturally growing, on a sand/soil mix might not have an issue with impaction and be fine with endorsing it.

Don't get me wrong, I don't want the vet bills or to harm my torts, and I'm phasing out my sand each season with more top soil. I was just trying to think of a reason for why so many websites endorse sand/soil mixes and don't mention the impaction issue...hmmmm

Then again - I've seen my leopard try to eat a small pebble before, despite ample amounts of fresh growing and supplemented food, so maybe they just eat whatever is around. And that wouldn't really account for sand in the wild and why impaction isn't an issue for them...

I think it probably gets on the plate/tile and gets on the food that way, I know franklin personally likes to trample his food and pretty much throw it all over the place before deciding to eat it, so even the mulch ends up all in his plate! and I know with the little while with repti-sand this was quite an issue. This is the reason outside I put his plate on the mulch. And while grazing may be safer in some regards ive noticed Franklin will bite a leave off and finish eating it on the ground, so any grasses he would eat that pop up in the sand I promptly take out so he just wont eat on the sand at all. Soon enough i'll have a topsoil growing corner though so he'll be able to graze and not run around and back to his plate every time he's hungry again.

So while i'm certainly not an expert or even really a hobbyist , I feel like even though outside I have sand which isn't advisable its done the safest sand can be, and he spends more time in than out (since theres no cover and even if there was we live in a rural area and have many animals I probably couldn't protect against, so he goes and gets supervised at all times)
 

smarch

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Its because this is one of those incorrect, old, outdated things that just keeps getting repeated decade after decade. Just like raise your babies on rabbit pellets because if they eat them, it is digestible. Or only soak your tortoise once a week, because to much hydration will upset their "water balance". Or no need for a water bowl because they meet all their water needs through their food... Etc., etc., etc...

Think about it. What does sand actually "do" that other substrates don't do? Does it hold or retain more moisture than coir, mulch or orchid bark? What fantastic property is it that sand has, and no other substrate has, that we should all be taking this risk. Why not just use something that is not going to block up your tortoise regardless of circumstances. I have never used any sand substrate on any of my tortoises and year after year they are all just fine.

I get more worried about him chewing on a bit of mulch and choking, does this happen often? I mean that's always been my biggest worry! I actually never really wanted mulch but all the soils held humidity too fast.
Although ... completely off the topic, if I boosted his water dish on a few bricks so he couldn't burrow under it and had it raised some with a little wood ramp with bark on it for traction would that help keep a lot of water out of soil substrate and prevent humidity spikes?
 

smarch

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and i'm only talking like an inch or 2 raised not like ridiculously high amounts
 
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