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Aldabra indoor substrate

Discussion in 'Aldabra tortoises' started by ben awes, Feb 26, 2017.

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  1. ben awes

    ben awes Well-Known Member 5 Year Member

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    I am in the process of tripling the size of Uncle Bri's enclosure. I am debating about the substrate. As some of you know I have always raised my torts on plywood - straight, hard, dry plywood! and its worked out great. Never any shell rot, plenty of traction, soft enough. never had a problem. I just sweep and vacuum it on occasion. It is not however conducive to hosing down and it leaks. Now that Uncle Bri has well surpassed the size of any tort I have had in the past I am experience new requirements. For example, when he pees - holy cow! the volume is...... a lot!. The plywood floor no longer works well, at least not in it's current configuration.

    I've been thinking about lining his new enclosure with reinforced sheet rubber roofing, just liked you'd use on a commercial flat roof. the design of the enclosure is such that all surfaces are slightly sloped with several drains so that i could hose the place down periodically. He would also have a bath area built right in that I could fill with water as needed, and drain as needed. This would mean that he would be on rubber all the time. I cannot think of any other surface that would allow this type of maintenance. i also cannot think of any material that could go on top of the rubber that would drain, not mildew, not trap debris below it. I've thought of having a sand area, but could that be hosed down and still dry out?

    I am not concerned about traction, I think there would be plenty of that. I also do not think he would tear through it. it's pretty strong stuff.

    I just wanted to get peoples thoughts. i know that substrate is often a hotly contested subject, but I can take it! I received a lot of pushback for breeding my Leopards on plywood over the years, but it was never a problem. Yhe sheet rubber would be new and so I'd like some feedback. Thanks
  2. zovick

    zovick Well-Known Member 5 Year Member

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    How big is the tortoise now? Eight years ago, I had Neodesha Plastics produce a very nice heavy plastic tortoise tub which is 4' x 6' x 18" that works well for Radiated Tortoises and other species of similar or smaller size. Neodesha retained the tooling so that others may order these tubs and named it the "Zovickian Tortoise Tub". Obviously not large enough for a full grown Aldabra, but it might work well for a juvenile for a couple of years. They are watertight, but you could add a drain or two if desired. Pictures attached below show a 20" Ploughshare Tortoise in one of the tubs and a 13" Radiated in another to give an idea of the size of a tub with fairly large tortoises in them. The substrate in these photos is Eucalyptus Mulch which is no longer available (except in FL) as of now. You (or any other reader) wanting to order of these tubs may email Mitchell Peitz at Neodesha Plastics:
    [email protected]

    The tubs are very reasonable in cost, only about $115 each last time I checked, it is the shipping which is costly, though if you live close enough to KS, you can pick them up yourself to save $$.

    Tubs C.jpg Tub.jpg Tubs B.jpg
  3. ben awes

    ben awes Well-Known Member 5 Year Member

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    Thanks for the comments and the photos. Those would be great for a hatchling up to 6"! Wish I'd known about those long ago! Not great for a 20" tort though. I think they need way more space than that. My Aldabra is 50lbs and I'm trying to get about 400sf for him, with a variety of levels and areas. A continuous substrate (like the tub) is a priority. But A tub would be too slippery, plus the large torts pulverize any added substrate in short order. The dust gets overwhelming - hence the use of sheet rubber roofing. Durable, waterproof, with enough traction.
  4. Yvonne G

    Yvonne G Old Timer TFO Admin 10 Year Member! Platinum Tortoise Club

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    I can't remember where you have Uncle Bri. Is he out on the patio? I use the rubber stall mats in all my tortoise sheds:

    [​IMG]

    First I put down cement rectangle stepping stones (right on the dirt):

    [​IMG]
    then cover that with the mats. I use the half in. thick ones. They're very, very heavy and sturdy. I don't use any substrate except for in the YF and RF sections. And in there I add either cypress mulch or orchid bark over the mat.

    Aldabran Shed 8-2-13 b.jpg
  5. zovick

    zovick Well-Known Member 5 Year Member

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    Didn't know how big your tortoise was. I do know about the dust which arises from bigger tortoises walking in various substrates from long experience, however.

    That being said, I know some people who use pond liners for their tortoises which is probably about the same idea as the rubber roofing material you mentioned. I don't know if pond liners come in several different materials or if any of them would stand up to a big Aldabra, though. You could check into that possibility.
  6. wellington

    wellington Well-Known Member Moderator 5 Year Member Tortoise Club

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    Not sure if this will work as it only comes 4 and 5 feet wide that I have found anyway, but it's shower lining that they put under showers before installing them. You can glue it down and is water proof.
    I lined my tort/leopards and a Russian shed floor and tort tables with it. I then use peat moss over that in a lite layer just to help catch the torts pee.
    The link is for a roll of it available at Home Depot. You can also buy it off the roll to the size you want.
    Btw, when you get it done, we need an updated photo of both tort and enclosure.
    http://m.homedepot.com/p/Oatey-5-ft-x-40-ft-Gray-PVC-Shower-Pan-Liner-Roll-41597/100343454
  7. KevinGG

    KevinGG Well-Known Member 5 Year Member

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    Where did the Ploughshare end up going, Bill?
  8. zovick

    zovick Well-Known Member 5 Year Member

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    He is at the Behler Center in CA because they were able to get two adult females from China. I don't want to hijack this thread with discussions about Ploughshare Tortoises, though.
    Yvonne G and KevinGG like this.
  9. JustClick

    JustClick Member

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    Hey Ben. Our sulcata is indentical in size to Uncle Bri currently. Her winter enclosure is in our basement. My solution to your dilemma was to build the 4 sides, lay down 1" foam insulation board right on the concrete inside the wood frame. I then bought a quality tarp and layed it over top the insulation but then under the wood frame. So the tarp comes up on outside of the pen. For substrate I have used about a 1" layer of the $3 per bag cypress mulch.

    This simple layout has worked really well for me and contained the large urinations. The ample amount of the cypress mulch will be somewhat absorbent making it easy to clean. I use a dust pan to scoop up the soiled sections.

    One thing I would for sure change is that Id dump all cypress mulch outside on a tarp and rinse it clean before putting that much of it inside your house. I didn't do this and it has caused a significant amount of dust.
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