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So many substrate questions...

Discussion in 'Tortoise Enclosure Substrate' started by KdeeA, Nov 19, 2016.

  1. KdeeA

    KdeeA New Member

    Mar 27, 2016
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    So many thoughts, so little time, so I apologize if this seems very scattered...
    I have two Desert Tortoises and a Three-toed Boxie in a separate enclosure so please tell me if I am going in the wrong direction with any of this.

    I'm currently using Reptibark after switching from many years of pellet use. Don't like that it makes my torts red, so I'm considering Orchid bark as recommended by many on this forum (if I can find it). Does this also make them red?
    Also, why is fine grade preferred to a chunkier version? I'm worried about ingestion issues.
    Side note: Reptibark makes one of my guys either very angry or very randy. Lots of head bobbing at his brother, not a common thing for him before. Anyone else notice this?

    On the topic of bark, I read somewhere that fir bark is made from pine, is this true? Should I be concerned?

    Also considering Cypress mulch as I've seen many recommend. I got the Forest Floor stuff from the pet store, but it seems so sharp and pokey. Is there a better alternative? I don't like touching it and I worry about their little eyes.

    Thinking of putting Coco Coir as a bottom layer not so much for moisture but for softness for the torts (my boxie seems to like this stuff) Good or bad idea?

    Brand recommendations are appreciated. I'm in the SoCal area if that helps.

    Again, sorry for the stream of consciousness ramble. Thanks in advance.
  2. wellington

    wellington Well-Known Member Moderator 5 Year Member

    Sep 6, 2011
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    Chicago, Illinois, USA
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    I like coir the best for my leopards and Russian. Don't use pine. The chunkier version is fine, but I do believe it can be sharp edges and a finer grade is better for them to dig into.
  3. Alexio

    Alexio Active Member

    Mar 2, 2016
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    Syracuse, New York
    Reptibark is just the pet store branded name for orchid bark. So you are already using orchid bark.
    I like to use cypress mulch, it does have pointy ends but i have not seen it cause any problems. For me cypress mulch seems to absorb evenly and it its entirety, it seems like when i use reptibark the top layer stays dry and the bottom parts are moister.
    For by humidity loving snakes i have been using reptichip premium coconut substrate. Its really good stuff and im considering using it for all my torts going forward.
    I also have gotten about 15 small splinters from mixing reptibark with my bare hands, i have never gotten any from cypress mulch.
  4. Tom

    Tom The Dog Trainer 5 Year Member

    Jan 9, 2010
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    Southern California
    Reptibark, fir bark and orchid bark are all the same thing. Ingestion hs never been a problem for me and I've been using it for decades for a wide variety of reptile species.

    I use this brand here in SoCal:
    Orchid Bark.JPG

    Use fine grade because the larger grades are too chunky.

    They head bobbing business is happening because you have an aggressive, territorial species and they should not be living as a pair. They need separate quarters. See this before its too late: http://www.tortoiseforum.org/threads/bad-day-for-baby.114328/
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