Re-using orchid bark

Dave CH

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Afternoon everyone,
Our two younger Hermanns spend early spring and late autumn in indoor terrariums, and also spend the night there in summer.

Once they've hibernated later this year, I'll refresh the substrate with new bark.

My question: Is it possible/advisable to re-use the old bark, which has been in the terrariums since February of this year? And if so, is there anything I need to do to it?

Many thanks - Dave
 

Tom

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Afternoon everyone,
Our two younger Hermanns spend early spring and late autumn in indoor terrariums, and also spend the night there in summer.

Once they've hibernated later this year, I'll refresh the substrate with new bark.

My question: Is it possible/advisable to re-use the old bark, which has been in the terrariums since February of this year? And if so, is there anything I need to do to it?

Many thanks - Dave
Hi Dave. This really depends on how much they have "soiled" the substrate. If you soak regularly and they poop and pee in the soak water, then the enclosure substrate will remain relatively "clean". If you also spot clean any leftover food daily, then there should be no need to replace the substrate.

On the other hand, if they regularly poop and pee in the enclosure and you are not so fastidious about spot cleaning daily, then its probably best to go ahead and replace their substrate while they are brumating.
 

Dave CH

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57
Location (City and/or State)
Switzerland
Hi Dave. This really depends on how much they have "soiled" the substrate. If you soak regularly and they poop and pee in the soak water, then the enclosure substrate will remain relatively "clean". If you also spot clean any leftover food daily, then there should be no need to replace the substrate.

On the other hand, if they regularly poop and pee in the enclosure and you are not so fastidious about spot cleaning daily, then its probably best to go ahead and replace their substrate while they are brumating.
Thank you @Tom. That's very helpful.
Maybe I'll run a test:
Clean out.
Air for a long period.
Apply (my) nose.
Fill in.
And see.

The torts are wormed annually, which I assume reduces the risk of much going seriously wrong (he writes, hoping).

In passing, we've had a surprisingly good year thus far.
Spring, which was awful, had me worried, particularly for the two seniors, as there I am a little limited with my options. But all weights are good, and everyone (so, all four) are behaving as normal.

Best regards -
Dave
 

mojo_1

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Saint Clairsville OH
Thanks @mojo_1.
(Another dumb question from me probably, but...) when you say "clean it", you mean?
Like Tom said if it's not been heavily soiled. You can clean it by just soaking and rinsing or you can use a tort safe soap. I don't know the brand of cleaner/soap but I'm almost positive that there is one.
 

Dave CH

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Messages
57
Location (City and/or State)
Switzerland
Like Tom said if it's not been heavily soiled. You can clean it by just soaking and rinsing or you can use a tort safe soap. I don't know the brand of cleaner/soap but I'm almost positive that there is one.
Thanks @mojo_1, I will look into that.
If I find a reliable answer (for Switzerland), I will post here.
Best regards -
Dave
 

Tom

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Thank you @Tom. That's very helpful.
Maybe I'll run a test:
Clean out.
Air for a long period.
Apply (my) nose.
Fill in.
And see.

The torts are wormed annually, which I assume reduces the risk of much going seriously wrong (he writes, hoping).

In passing, we've had a surprisingly good year thus far.
Spring, which was awful, had me worried, particularly for the two seniors, as there I am a little limited with my options. But all weights are good, and everyone (so, all four) are behaving as normal.

Best regards -
Dave
Annual worming is probably taking a terrible toll on them. I wouldn't worm them unless you are first running a fecal, verifying that there is a terrible over abundance of a given parasitic worm species, and then treat those worms with the correct dose of the correct medicine.

I do the "sniff" test too. Its worked for me for all these years. :)

The weather never cooperates. That is why I build insulated shelters within which I can control the temperatures day and night. This way, my tortoises always have the correct temperatures leading in to brumation, and after coming out of brumation. Cold spring weather? No problem. I've got a heat lamps for those days until the sun returns. All of that and much more is explained here:
 

dada625

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china
Soak and rinse it, disinfect with boiling water, disinfect is important, i do it every week.
 

Dave CH

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57
Location (City and/or State)
Switzerland
Annual worming is probably taking a terrible toll on them. I wouldn't worm them unless you are first running a fecal, verifying that there is a terrible over abundance of a given parasitic worm species, and then treat those worms with the correct dose of the correct medicine.

I do the "sniff" test too. Its worked for me for all these years. :)

The weather never cooperates. That is why I build insulated shelters within which I can control the temperatures day and night. This way, my tortoises always have the correct temperatures leading in to brumation, and after coming out of brumation. Cold spring weather? No problem. I've got a heat lamps for those days until the sun returns. All of that and much more is explained here:
Thank you @Tom.
That is really very, very interesting.
So, I checked with our local vet this morning if their lab can test, and it can.
We'll check each tort individually, and only worm those with a have parasitic charge.
I'm really very glad you brought this up. Thank you.

On tricky weather, I build a "hot box" two or three years ago, actually after reading the piece you linked to and some other contributions to these forums.
I fitted a heater, and UV and basking. The door hinges down to become an exit/entry ramp.
My aim was that our two bigger torts could be outside in the fresh air, even if spring isn't springing.

The result? Basically, I put them in, let down the ramp, and then they just walk out and sit in the cold.

I should point out that they are both at an advanced age and have been free-roaming and self-hibernating since they were old enough to do both. And that I find it very hard to keep them boxed up, with the ramp up.
 

Tom

The Dog Trainer
10 Year Member!
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Location (City and/or State)
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Thank you @Tom.
That is really very, very interesting.
So, I checked with our local vet this morning if their lab can test, and it can.
We'll check each tort individually, and only worm those with a have parasitic charge.
I'm really very glad you brought this up. Thank you.

On tricky weather, I build a "hot box" two or three years ago, actually after reading the piece you linked to and some other contributions to these forums.
I fitted a heater, and UV and basking. The door hinges down to become an exit/entry ramp.
My aim was that our two bigger torts could be outside in the fresh air, even if spring isn't springing.

The result? Basically, I put them in, let down the ramp, and then they just walk out and sit in the cold.

I should point out that they are both at an advanced age and have been free-roaming and self-hibernating since they were old enough to do both. And that I find it very hard to keep them boxed up, with the ramp up.
Many tortoises can be stubborn in that way.

What temperatures were you trying to maintain in the box? I've never offered UV to an outdoor tortoise. What type of UV bulb were you using?

I never tried to make a "hot box" for temperate species. I just use the heater in it to keep ambient from dropping too low at night when spring isn't springing very well yet. Even though we have warm days here most of every year, we do get cold nights. Sometimes down to 0C. I set the thermostats in those night boxes to around 15C. They still cool at night, but not too cold. I only use the heat lamp if the daytime high is less than about 18C and overcast, which they would prevent them from being able to warm up on their own out side in the sunshine.

Only for my tropical species, like sulcatas and stars, do I set the thermostats to keep temps above 26-27C day and night.
 

Dave CH

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Joined
Jan 1, 2022
Messages
57
Location (City and/or State)
Switzerland
Many tortoises can be stubborn in that way.

What temperatures were you trying to maintain in the box? I've never offered UV to an outdoor tortoise. What type of UV bulb were you using?

I never tried to make a "hot box" for temperate species. I just use the heater in it to keep ambient from dropping too low at night when spring isn't springing very well yet. Even though we have warm days here most of every year, we do get cold nights. Sometimes down to 0C. I set the thermostats in those night boxes to around 15C. They still cool at night, but not too cold. I only use the heat lamp if the daytime high is less than about 18C and overcast, which they would prevent them from being able to warm up on their own out side in the sunshine.

Only for my tropical species, like sulcatas and stars, do I set the thermostats to keep temps above 26-27C day and night.
From memory, @Tom , I had the box at around 22 Celsius, the UV bulb was not a mercury vapor lamp.
Basking and UV were on simultaneously.
A small, quiet electric heater was installed above the torts' area and its thermostat set to maintain the 22C.

The two big ones sleep in a secure (from local wildlife) pen overnight once overnight temperatures have reached 10C. This is our attempt to mimic, as far as possible, the decades (in fact, their whole lives) they spent at a lower altitude.
The difficulty is the shorter season here (a month chopped off either end), and in particular the spring. We hibernate them indoors (we have extensive cellars that I can get down to around 9-11C), and they start stirring around mid-March. Outside, meanwhile, we might still have heavy frosts and snow. And---and this is the most difficult to manage---even if the weather is "good", we only need a little cloud cover for the temperature to plummet.
 

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