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Best substrate for Testudo Graeca

Discussion in 'Tortoise Enclosure Substrate' started by rocco123, Oct 27, 2016.

  1. rocco123

    rocco123 New Member

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    HI, I'm in need of some advice please.
    I have a 2year old Spur thighed tortoise that we bought about 6 months ago. The breeder advised that we kept him in a viv with slate flooring which we are doing. But after a lot of reading on various sites, I want to move him onto a tortoise table.
    My big question though, and I have read so many conflicting threads, is what substrate would be best? I feel really mean keeping him on slate, but I am reluctant to change if I'm going to end up doing him more harm than good by using the wrong thing.

    He has recently had a check up at the vets and we were told he was in amazing condition so I really don't want to risk that changing.

    Is a sterilised soil like the Tortoise Terrain really no good?

    Any advice for a newbie owner would be gratefully received.
  2. JoesMum

    JoesMum Well-Known Member 5 Year Member

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    Hello and welcome to TFO :) We've had our Greek here in the UK for over 46 years now.

    We're fortunate to have species experts here who are working hard to correct the outdated information widely available on the internet and from pet stores and, sadly, from some breeders and vets too.

    Having the floor as just slate isn't good for your tort. Your tort needs damp substrate (not wet) to raise the humidity to help its shell grow smooth and also to dig in :)

    A piece of flat slate makes a great food plate though, so don't dump all of it!

    On TFO the most commonly recommended substrates are Orchid Bark and Coco Coir (you can get them from garden centres)

    You need an earthy type substrate that will hold moisture. It must not contain chemical fertilisers or bits like calcium pieces, perlite or vermiculite that your tort may be tempted to eat.

    Please take the time to read these TFO guides to caring for your tort. I think you'll find them helpful - and probably different to what you were told.

    Beginner Mistakes
    http://www.tortoiseforum.org/threads/beginner-mistakes.45180/

    Greek Tortoise Care
    http://www.tortoiseforum.org/threads/greek-tortoise-testudo-graeca-care-sheet-overview.87146/
  3. rocco123

    rocco123 New Member

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    Thanks so much for your advice. I feel like I'm doing everything else right, and the breeder was fantastic with the rest of their advice, but the substrate is a source of confusion. Reading your Greek Tortoise Care sheet, is says 50/50 mix of top soil and play sand is suitable. But I've been reading that sand, even when mixed, can be harmful. Would you say this is another alternative that could be used? Also, is top soil bought from a garden centre suitable? I worry about chemicals etc that may be included. I'm definitely going to start with the coco coir though.

    Many thanks
  4. JoesMum

    JoesMum Well-Known Member 5 Year Member

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    Does it really? I had better go back and reread it. No we don't recommend sand at all due to impaction in the gut. I'll have words with the moderators over that.

    Top soil tends to get very solid and compact. It doesn't play as nicely when wet as coir or orchid bark. Personally, I wouldn't use it.

    You need to look at the bags to check for additives. Coir usually comes in "bricks" that you soak to rehydrate. Do it carefully as you want it damp, but not wet.
    rocco123 likes this.
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