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Best Bedding for Box Turtle?

Discussion in 'American box turtles' started by Terri123, Jan 21, 2019.

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  1. Terri123

    Terri123 New Member

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    Hi, I am a newbie on the site ...

    I have a three-toed Box Turtle, Toby. I've had him for about 8 years, and he is sweet and curious little fellow.

    I have tried all sorts of bedding/substrate for him, and I'm really at a loss as to the best bedding for him. I had some sort of wood chips (Not cedar!!, purchased from PetSmart) and he honestly seems to hate it! It seems really dusty, too. In the past, I had a coconut loom /soil type bedding, but then his water source would become super messy, very quickly, and although he liked to burrow in it, he didn't seem happy when he was covered in soil everywhere (and I was concerned about him ingesting it, although I have a separate food dish for him).

    The vet recommended turtle "carpet"; and I thought it was a reasonable compromise, although it didn't seem very cozy and he certainly can't burrow in it.

    But, then as I researched further, turtle carpet seems like an awful choice!

    Can anyone please provide me a recommendation for a safe substrate for my box turtle: if possible, a substrate that he can burrow in, that retains humidity to some extent, but doesn't make a huge mess in the water bowl?

    Also note: I'm in Alberta, Canada so I have to be able to buy the substrate from either Petsmart or Amazon.ca (some items I can purchase on Amazon.com).

    Please be really, really specific when you're making recommendations, and break it down as simply as possible :)

    Thank you!

    T.
  2. Cheryl Hills

    Cheryl Hills Well-Known Member

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    @Yvonne G
  3. TortoiseRacket

    TortoiseRacket Well-Known Member

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    I would use “Repti-Bark” and mix it with pesticide free topsoil.
  4. Yvonne G

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

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    It's messy, but I use potting soil. I buy a good brand and one that has no additives or perlite bits.
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  5. Melis

    Melis Well-Known Member

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    Welcome!
    Just another random tidbit. Be cautious of any more recommendations from that vet. A lot aren’t familiar with torts, as you have discovered from his recommendation to use carpet.
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  6. Millerlite

    Millerlite Well-Known Member 10 Year Member!

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    I use soil just plain nothing added and will mix in some peat moss some areas have a little sand mixed in not much. Seems to work well. I'll add a little stringy moss in my indoor enclosures.

    Kyle
  7. lisa127

    lisa127 Well-Known Member 5 Year Member

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    I use 100% organic peat moss. For babies I often add new Zealand long fibre sphagnum. But my adults get damp peat moss.
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  8. Pastel Tortie

    Pastel Tortie Well-Known Member Platinum Tortoise Club Tortoise Club

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    I think both you and your turtle will be happy if you can find some long grain sphagnum moss. It's sometimes sold as orchid moss. (Just make sure it isn't a mix and doesn't have any other additives in it.) Soak it, squeeze out most of the water, and either mix it in with the potting soil or coco coir, and/or just layer it on top of the other substrate. Pile it up high enough in a couple places so your boxie can burrow into it completely. It won't be long before you spot a little box turtle beak sticking out of the moss!
  9. captjack74

    captjack74 New Member

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    Question with regard to mixing/layering coco coir and sphagnum moss. I have both-I have the coco coir on bottom and moss on top. You note to "layer it on other substrate". What other substrate did you mean?
    Did you also mean to mix the coco coir and moss together?
    Should the coco coir be wet before mixed with moss?
    Thanks any help is appreciated
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  10. Pastel Tortie

    Pastel Tortie Well-Known Member Platinum Tortoise Club Tortoise Club

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    You can do either, mix the coco coir and moss together, or just put the moss on top of the coir. Sounds fine the way you have it.
  11. captjack74

    captjack74 New Member

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    How wet/moist should the coco coir be?
    I do not want to cause mold
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  12. Pastel Tortie

    Pastel Tortie Well-Known Member Platinum Tortoise Club Tortoise Club

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    Soak the moss so it's thoroughly drenched and dripping wet. Then when you lift a handful or so at a time out of the moss-soaking container, give it a good squeeze or two. It should go from dripping wet to damp (and not dripping anymore). Then you can put it in the enclosure.

    Oops, I just reread your question and it finally registered that it's about coco coir. If you're starting with a brick of it, put it in a bucket of water and wait until it completely rehydrates. Once it's rehydrated (completely expanded), you can add it to the enclosure wet or dry. Like the moss, I usually go for "damp" when I add it to the enclosure. My opinion is that dry to the touch is TOO dry, and dripping wet in the enclosure usually means "Oops, I hope some of this evaporates soon..."

    Fortunately, under a light that produces heat, it usually does.
    PJay likes this.
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