1. Welcome! Are you interested in tortoises? If so, we invite you to join our community! Our community is the #1 place for tortoise keepers to talk online. Once you join you'll be able to post messages, upload pictures of your tortoise and enclosure, and discuss any tortoise topic with other tortoise keepers. Get started today!

Dirt Vs Sand

Discussion in 'Tortoise Enclosure Substrate' started by tortoisenoob42, Apr 27, 2015.

Help Support Tortoise Forums by donating:

  1. tortoisenoob42

    tortoisenoob42 New Member

    Joined:
    Apr 25, 2015
    Messages:
    28
    Likes Received:
    6
    Trophy Points:
    3
    Location (City and/or State):
    North Carolina
    Okay so im building an indoor Russian tortoise table and I am having a hard time figuring out which type of substrate to use. I have heard that you can use dirt from your yard, but no sand cause that can cause impaction. My main question is what is the difference between the sand and the dirt i can take from my backyard?
  2. lismar79

    lismar79 Well-Known Member 5 Year Member

    Joined:
    Oct 29, 2013
    Messages:
    2,994
    Likes Received:
    1,623
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Location (City and/or State):
    Ohio USA
    (These ads do not appear for registered members.)
    I would think it has something to do with how the particles break down when ingested. Sand doesn't dissolve and would just keep building up. My guess anyway. For indoor I like firbark. It holds humidity and is not messy. Good for digging in too.
    ascott likes this.
  3. Jodie

    Jodie Well-Known Member 5 Year Member

    Joined:
    Jul 11, 2014
    Messages:
    4,308
    Likes Received:
    2,699
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Location (City and/or State):
    Spokane Valley WA
    I agree, bark is great.
  4. ascott

    ascott Well-Known Member 5 Year Member

    Joined:
    Apr 10, 2011
    Messages:
    16,140
    Likes Received:
    2,781
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Location (City and/or State):
    Apple Valley, California

    I would use earth type substrate and not wood chip type material...also part of the problem with sand is that when the tortoise consumes the food laid in the enclosure they tend to move the food about and off of the feeding spot...and if the substrate is sand, then the tort will ingest the sand...and as mentioned previously--sand settles in the gut and will begin to add up and cause a blockage--especially if the tort should become dehydrated any....
  5. ZEROPILOT

    ZEROPILOT Well-Known Member 5 Year Member Platinum Tortoise Club Tortoise Club

    Joined:
    Jul 16, 2014
    Messages:
    19,225
    Likes Received:
    34,455
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Location (City and/or State):
    South Eastern Florida (U.S.A.)/Rock Hill S.C.
    I use potting soil. Plain potting soil. Nothing added-like fertilizers.
    It's like $2.00 for a big bag at the retail hardware store. (Not top soil. It's cheaper and has more sand)
    Potting soil has more broken down matter..soil and less sand.
    It also holds humidity and sand really isn't meant to do so.
  6. tortoisenoob42

    tortoisenoob42 New Member

    Joined:
    Apr 25, 2015
    Messages:
    28
    Likes Received:
    6
    Trophy Points:
    3
    Location (City and/or State):
    North Carolina
    So what are your results for using potting soil. i have heard that it contains impurities that can hurt your tort. also does it matter what brand your using?
  7. Tom

    Tom The Dog Trainer 5 Year Member Platinum Tortoise Club

    Joined:
    Jan 9, 2010
    Messages:
    45,428
    Likes Received:
    25,279
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Location (City and/or State):
    Southern California
    The best substrate for russians is orchid bark, in my experience. You can get a giant bag at the hardware store for around $5.
  8. tortoisenoob42

    tortoisenoob42 New Member

    Joined:
    Apr 25, 2015
    Messages:
    28
    Likes Received:
    6
    Trophy Points:
    3
    Location (City and/or State):
    North Carolina
    is there a specific brand ?
  9. Tom

    Tom The Dog Trainer 5 Year Member Platinum Tortoise Club

    Joined:
    Jan 9, 2010
    Messages:
    45,428
    Likes Received:
    25,279
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Location (City and/or State):
    Southern California
    No. I've used all sorts of them. Just be sure to get the fine grade and not the big honkin' chunks.

    I've been using one called "Pathway Bark" from Lowes for a few years now and it works great.
  10. tortoisenoob42

    tortoisenoob42 New Member

    Joined:
    Apr 25, 2015
    Messages:
    28
    Likes Received:
    6
    Trophy Points:
    3
    Location (City and/or State):
    North Carolina
    so how can you tell what grade the chunks are?
  11. Tidgy's Dad

    Tidgy's Dad Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Feb 11, 2015
    Messages:
    46,520
    Likes Received:
    123,082
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Location (City and/or State):
    Fes, Morocco
    If you can't see the pieces through the plastic, or it doesn't say then give the bag a good fondle.
    tortoisenoob42 likes this.
  12. teresaf

    teresaf Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jan 21, 2015
    Messages:
    2,022
    Likes Received:
    1,291
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Location (City and/or State):
    Port Charlotte, Florida
    soil is made of biodegradable stuff like trees, plants, animals. digestable. Sand is made of little itty bitty rocks. Remember building sand castles at the beach? It stuck together because it was wet. Imagine what that feels like in your belly. We don't let our dogs eat rocks so don't let your tortoise.
    tortoisenoob42 and Momof4 like this.
  13. Tom

    Tom The Dog Trainer 5 Year Member Platinum Tortoise Club

    Joined:
    Jan 9, 2010
    Messages:
    45,428
    Likes Received:
    25,279
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Location (City and/or State):
    Southern California
    Its says it on the bag, but don't hesitate to cut the bag open and check. I do.
  14. johnsonnboswell

    johnsonnboswell Well-Known Member 5 Year Member

    Joined:
    Aug 27, 2012
    Messages:
    2,239
    Likes Received:
    1,208
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Sand isn't a good substrate for Russians. Coconut coir is a very good substrate. You may want to mix it with a bit of dirt, too. Depending on the composition of your soil, you might be better off using potting soil or compost with no additives.
  15. ascott

    ascott Well-Known Member 5 Year Member

    Joined:
    Apr 10, 2011
    Messages:
    16,140
    Likes Received:
    2,781
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Location (City and/or State):
    Apple Valley, California
  16. avfarrar

    avfarrar New Member

    Joined:
    Jun 3, 2019
    Messages:
    12
    Likes Received:
    1
    Trophy Points:
    3
    Location (City and/or State):
    Texas
    I know that this was thread was from several years ago so I wanted to ask if Lowes still sells that orchid bark? I am looking it up online and it isn't coming up. This brand you are talking about is ALOT cheaper than what I may have to get:
    http://www.tropicalplantproducts.com/products/417-orchid-bark.aspx
    http://grabngrowsoil.com/product/1-4-minus-fir-bark-mulch/

    The newer orchid bark brand it looks like you're using now (GreenAll Micro Bark) doesn't seem to be able to be shipped and like you said before isn't sold in chain stores--which is a problem because those are the only kinds of stores near me (the other ones don't have it on their online catalog).
    Let me know if you have any ideas, because I am going to try to get this mulch ordered as soon as possible to switch out my bad substrate. Thank you.
  17. Tom

    Tom The Dog Trainer 5 Year Member Platinum Tortoise Club

    Joined:
    Jan 9, 2010
    Messages:
    45,428
    Likes Received:
    25,279
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Location (City and/or State):
    Southern California
    I haven't checked there since I found this new type. Sorry.
Similar Threads: Dirt Sand
Forum Title Date
Tortoise Enclosure Substrate Too old? Too dirty? (substrate) Apr 28, 2016
Tortoise Enclosure Substrate Clean dirt question Apr 5, 2016
Tortoise Enclosure Substrate Substrate for Outdoor Enclosure (with Garden): Plain Dirt OK? Apr 30, 2014
Tortoise Enclosure Substrate Sand potting soil substrate Mar 23, 2018
Tortoise Enclosure Substrate Clay and sand mix Jan 10, 2017

Share This Page