Substrate troubles

Eduardo Hernandez

Active Member
Joined
Mar 17, 2017
Messages
205
Location (City and/or State)
Orange County, California
Too dry is not an issue as I said before, I soak regularly.


Too dry is not an issue, as I said earlier I have good soaking practices. The organic peat moss is an interesting and far cheaper option than the repti bark I just swapped to. Stuff is uber expensive at 20 bucks for the appropriate size bag for me.
If you only need one bag for the whole enclosure, then its way too small. If you post pics of your enclosure we could help you a lot more.
 

Cheryl Hills

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jan 1, 2016
Messages
2,343
Location (City and/or State)
Youngstown, Ohio
If the substrate is to dry it can still be an issue even if you are soaking. You will not have enough humidity in the tank and this causes the tort to dry out. Just what I have learned from the forum.
 

zovick

Well-Known Member
5 Year Member
Joined
Nov 17, 2013
Messages
922
Don't use Aspen shavings! I have had tortoises die from intestinal impactions from eating those shavings back in my early days (even though I never saw a tortoise eating them, it was proven by necropsy). Stick with the cypress mulch or orchid bark. FWIW, I have been using cypress mulch for years now with no problems (since Eucalyptus mulch became unavailable in my area). If you are close to the FL border, you could buy my all-time favorite bedding, Eucalyptus mulch, there. For some reason it is no longer sold anywhere except FL. The Bronx Zoo used this mulch for almost all their reptile exhibits for many years while I was affiliated with them. Here are links to what I am recommending:

https://www.scotts.com/en-us/products/mulch-soil-garden/scotts-florida-selecttm-eucalyptus-mulch

https://www.homedepot.com/p/Timberline-2-cu-ft-Eucalyptus-Mulch-52058774/100598763
 

Cheryl Hills

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jan 1, 2016
Messages
2,343
Location (City and/or State)
Youngstown, Ohio
I would think eucalyptus could be harmful due to its smell. I never heard of using it. But I don’t know. I would be Leary of it.
 

zovick

Well-Known Member
5 Year Member
Joined
Nov 17, 2013
Messages
922
I would think eucalyptus could be harmful due to its smell. I never heard of using it. But I don’t know. I would be Leary of it.
The odor is not harmful to the animals in any way, and the odor actually is a completely natural way to repel insects. I used Eucalyptus mulch for 35 plus years with no troubles at all. Also, did you read where I said that the Bronx Zoo used it in all their reptile exhibits for the 30 years I worked with them (and probably for more years both before and after that)?
 

Ray--Opo

Well-Known Member
Platinum Tortoise Club
Joined
Oct 14, 2017
Messages
3,854
Location (City and/or State)
Palm Bay Fl
First I own a largely adult male Russian tortoise named Boris

I am not only new here, but still a fairly new first time reptile owner at only 5 months in. I have muddled my way through fairly well despite conflicting opinions on everything from diet to substrate. I use a dome ceramic fixture UVB basking lamp, a cuttle bone, a nice hide away from the basking area, and I feed leafy greens such as turnips, collards, kale, very rare strawberries and so on. I have good soaking practices and found a sly way to get water in him simply by wetting his greens. Mine refuses to drink from a dish....ever.

My issue is substrate, when I bought him he came with a bag of forest floor...basically a billion possible splinters. I knew no better and while using it I saw an absolutely horrific story about a very large Sulcata who got a piece in his neck and nearly died. I once again made a mistake, I swapped over to something very inexpensive that lasts a very long time which is red cedar bedding. I have yet to replace it, and after discovering it can be toxic I am scrambling to get another kind. Thankfully he has flourished and made it through hibernation this year after burrowing down despite this stuff.

Nearly EVERY substrate I see is moisture retention based. I have a desert breed so I don't want to assault him with humidity, lord knows my state is humid enough already. I also have YET to find a substrate people will not bash in some form such as too humid, gut impaction, irritate the eyes, fatal if ingested, and on and on.

I am in need of a substrate that allows burrowing for hibernation and can sustain eggs since I later plan on getting a female. Although I may use an incubator, the option would be nice. It is just a monster challenge to find a dry type of substrate for a desert breed that isn't dangerous in some way.

I am seriously about ready to make a few pounds of rubber pellets a tad larger than his mouth and cover it with Timothy hay. Would have the benefit of being reusable, Warmth loss wouldn't be an issue either since he is indoors.

I am eyeing Aspen as a sole substrate also, but have not decided. any advice from a fellow Russian owner would be helpful. Hopefully I provided enough info.

Thank's all..
I use cypress mulch for my sulcata. Just bought some organic soil to mix with the mulch. When I got home I noticed it has natural fertilizer in it. Should I look for another organic soil?
 

DARKFIRE007

Active Member
Joined
Jan 11, 2018
Messages
243
Location (City and/or State)
Birmingham Alabama
If you only need one bag for the whole enclosure, then its way too small. If you post pics of your enclosure we could help you a lot more.
No need, at night when I sleep I put him in a tank (20 or 30 gallon, don't remember). Otherwise he is in a custom 60x20 daytime "roaming" area box/enclosure.

The tank is only suitable for night since it is not a large one, and it is a must since it has a screened lid I can secure. Insures he does not escape while I am not around to keep an eye out, and will keep the occasional rodent at bay. Even with it only being for night, I want to get the substrate right.

I just tried Eco Earth, and despite feeling like I am playing in a bucket of diarrhea...stuff seems fairly nice once rung out to be a proper moistness inside the tank. One brick is borderline not enough, I need to mix it with something.
 

DARKFIRE007

Active Member
Joined
Jan 11, 2018
Messages
243
Location (City and/or State)
Birmingham Alabama
Don't use Aspen shavings! I have had tortoises die from intestinal impactions from eating those shavings back in my early days (even though I never saw a tortoise eating them, it was proven by necropsy). Stick with the cypress mulch or orchid bark. FWIW, I have been using cypress mulch for years now with no problems (since Eucalyptus mulch became unavailable in my area). If you are close to the FL border, you could buy my all-time favorite bedding, Eucalyptus mulch, there. For some reason it is no longer sold anywhere except FL. The Bronx Zoo used this mulch for almost all their reptile exhibits for many years while I was affiliated with them. Here are links to what I am recommending:

https://www.scotts.com/en-us/products/mulch-soil-garden/scotts-florida-selecttm-eucalyptus-mulch

https://www.homedepot.com/p/Timberline-2-cu-ft-Eucalyptus-Mulch-52058774/100598763
I would have a conversation with site admin if I were you. This seems to be info worthy of a pinned/highlighted thread or whatever it is called. Ask if they will let you write one. Anyone looking for their first few substrate options will be assaulted with Aspen just as I was.
 

Rusky

Active Member
Joined
Dec 19, 2017
Messages
161
Location (City and/or State)
Allentown, Pennsylvania
For my Russian I mix forest floor with Exo Terra's Plantation Soil (the same as Eco Earth), and I like it very much. While Russians are a species that cannot be kept in high humidity conditions, obviously some humidity is good even for adults. I honestly can't imagine cypress mulch piercing his skin, but if you want to be safe, you could probably mix it with coconut husk or chips. I would mix because it helps keep it less messy/clingy and provides some support so they don't sink in with every step.
 

DARKFIRE007

Active Member
Joined
Jan 11, 2018
Messages
243
Location (City and/or State)
Birmingham Alabama
So I feel the need to do a follow up on this thread and give it a solid ending since it got a LOT of attention. After basing decisions on poor or simply incorrect information, I took the advice here and tried coco coir with great success. The stuff is absolutely nasty to expand, I always feel like I am playing in a bucket of diarrhea. And it LOVES to get dry and dusty if you do not water it religiously. With that said, it works well as a stand alone substrate and they don't "sink" if you compress it down by hand. It is also digestible...which was not a concern for me as I feed mine away from the substrate to be safe.

I have since seen a video on Cypress mulch that made me rethink my worries with splinters...my 2 months with the stuff I was handling it bare handed, and never got a splinter, so it stands to reason they won't either. I just panicked when I saw a poor Sulcata with a BAD splinter. Come to think of it, I don't even think it was said Cypress was the culprit.

I will swap back to it for now because it was SO much easier to maintain and FAR less mess. After seeing a substrate properties photo I know it has everything they need, the only thing not mentioned is if it has thermal benefits...and that really does not matter indoors.

This subject gave me FITS...thanks to all who replied.
 

TammyJ

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jun 21, 2016
Messages
2,906
Location (City and/or State)
Jamaica
You could mix the coco coir with peat moss. I like the peat moss.
 
Top