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substrate cleaning?

PostPosted: Thu Jul 06, 2006 1:44 pm
by repetit
hey guys
i haven been rearing my star tortoise for long
so i wanted to enquire how u guys go about cleaning the tank
becuz i hv seen tt on care sheets n stuff , they noted tt tortoises burrow themselves in the substrate

so frm my knowledge , i believe the tortoise usually urinates onto the substrate and poop onto it. so i wanna noe tt how u guys actually go arnd changing n cleaning the substrate especially when its 3 inch deep and its dry substrate

PostPosted: Thu Jul 06, 2006 2:13 pm
by jenaero
Ok, I can tell you what I do for my box turtles, assuming a tortoise is similar. I know my box turtles do most of their business in their water dishes. They also produce urates (dry form of urine) into their water dishes. I do a daily poop-check and pickup if needed and change the substrate only every few months. Since I use soil/peat moss and bed-a-beast for substrate, I simply empty it into a garbage bag, give the tank a rinse and fill it back up with all new stuff. I should mention that I use rubbermaid tubs for housing so it's easier than cleaning a tortoise table or something.

What is your setup like? How long have you had him?

Since I know nothing about star torts, here's a good care sheet.

PostPosted: Fri Jul 07, 2006 2:20 am
by repetit
i use rubbermaid tubs too!
they are damn cheap and come in big sizes
im using substrate wif sand and loam or i might be using soil wif sand
i haven had it for long
i jus got it frm a fren , but im jus setting up the place right nw
so b4 i setup the place , i jus needed to noe if it gets dirty , how am i gonna clean up the substrate.

btw do u feed it in a seperate place or do u jus put food right on the substrate , im afraid if i put food on the substrate , they might eat the sand as well. but actually i tink tts ok right since they live in tt kind of habitat for yrs? jus askin in case

n do u hv pics of ur setup? i wld luv to see to get some ideas but its ok if its inconvenient

PostPosted: Fri Jul 07, 2006 9:17 am
by jenaero
Here's a quote about substrate from that care sheet i mentioned above

There are a variety of substrates you can use indoors. The substrate should be several inches deep and should not be something that will trap moisture and remain muddy, damp, or get moldy. My preference is a mix of approximately 60% top soil and 40% play sand. You can also use bed-a-beast instead of top soil with the play sand. Some keepers prefer cypress or orchid bark mulches. Piles of Bermuda, orchard, or timothy hays on top of the substrate provide additional burrowing areas and many tortoises will eat it (it’s good for them!). Alfalfa pellets are not recommended because they are high in protein (tortoises will eat the pellets), hold water, and mold easily. Substrates made with pine or cedar are not recommended either because the fumes are an irritant that can cause serious respiratory difficulties.

Like I said, I just dump it out and replace it with all new soil and such.

I use slate rock as a food dish. It helps wear down their beaks naturally, and keeps them from eating the substrate with the food. Sometimes that doesn't work because my turts will grab the food from the plate and walk away so they do eat some dirt with it. Not much you can do about that.

Here are some pics of one of my setups. The other turt's setup is pretty much the same.



PostPosted: Fri Jul 07, 2006 11:21 am
by repetit
wow ok
the setup looks nice
i lik the grass hay ting , looks damn nice
altho i dunno where i can obtain it in my region
i will take some fotos after i setup

PostPosted: Tue Jul 11, 2006 10:34 am
by repetit
i finished my setup for the tortoise already , which includes sand , but i decided nt to put sand anymore and instead put wheat grass hay on the soil instead

the tortoise didnt seem to do v well wif sand and im afraid it might cause breathin problem and eye irritation when burrowing
and moreover , it didnt eat in tt surrounding for 3 days and i tot it might be becuz of stress but i found it weird tt b4 i put it in tt surrounding , it has been eating well n normally
so i decided to revert back the base as newspaper lik wad my fren did and check out whether it is the base problem
and yea , the tortoise finally ate! luckily my veggies didnt go to waste

i tink i'll follow ur eg of
soil and hay soon , jus putting newspaper as temp
thnx again! jus reporting hehe

PostPosted: Fri Jul 14, 2006 5:02 am
by reptilegrrl
Tortoises make a LOT more waste than box turtles do.

A tortoise should NOT be on sand. not not not not. Please have a look at Melissa Kaplan's tortoise care sheets, here:

Hay is not a good idea- when hay gets damp, it mildews. This can cause illness. Live grass is fine, but hay is a very bad idea for tortoises and turtles. Hay should be offered at feeding, but not left to sit in the habitat.

Repetit- you can help prolong the time between changes by scooping out poop and urine, but eventually you will have to change all the substrate. In the case of a tortoise kept in a rubbermaid tub, that will probably need to be every couple of weeks.

Jen, sand is also not good for box turtles. Mulch is better. I've been using cypress mulch for almost a decade now.

Also, I have NEVER seen a box turtle create urate crystals. That is very weird. My boxies pee copious amounts of liquid urine, and also make feces. The feces are usually in the water dish. Are you soaking your turtles every day to make sure they get enough hydration? It is not actually normal for a turtle to make urate crystals instead of urine. I saw an elderly and unhealthy boxie who would sometimes pass white material mixed with her feces, which may have been urea, but never have I seen another boxie make urate.

I am just curious- why do you keep your boxies separate? They are very social critters.

PostPosted: Fri Jul 14, 2006 9:02 am
by jenaero
I don't use sand with my boxies. It's a mix of soil, bed-a-beast and peat moss.

I don't know what you call it, I guess I assumed it was urates but sometimes I'll find small white chunks in the water dish.

The boxies are separate because I wasn't sure if Poe was healthy. I've only had him since April, and I've had Dog since October. He's now got a clean bill of health (as in, nothing contagious) but he does have a soft shell. They're still not together because I introduced them briefly on neutral territory and Dog had a fit. He's got quite an attitude.

PostPosted: Thu Jul 27, 2006 12:58 pm
by repetit
yea mine urine in white chunks liquid kinda form lik parrot's faeces or sth. i do soak them. i was tinkin of cypress b4 too , but i was afraid tt the tortoise might eat it when eating its food and might be fatal to them as stated by tortoisetrust

PostPosted: Thu Jul 27, 2006 1:23 pm
by jenaero
Mine always manage to eat a bit of the substrate every time. I haven't had a problem yet.