Organic Substrate Odors


New Member
Feb 24, 2020
Location (City and/or State)
Ontario, Canada
Hello All,

I’m a first-time owner and have a juvenile Marginated (~30 grams) living on fir mulch mixed with coco coir. I’ve noticed that as I increase humidity in the enclosure, the fir scent becomes quite strong. I keep the enclosure 50% lidded to hold moisture. I am feeling a bit anxious that the scent may be tormenting the little guy/gal... though he/she isn’t showing any obvious signs of stress. Has anyone else noticed a strong smell from fir or other organic substrates? If I go ahead and swap it all out is there something more “inert” I could use that will still hold the humidity up?

Yvonne G

Old Timer
TFO Admin
10 Year Member!
Platinum Tortoise Club
Jan 23, 2008
Location (City and/or State)
Clovis, CA
I guess it all depends upon the person doing the smelling. To me fir scent is quite refreshing. Reminds me of being in a forest. If your substrate doesn't smell like a forest, then there's something else wrong, not the substrate.

I don't keep marginated tortoises, and don't know much about them, however, most of the Mediterranean species don't require high humidity. Maybe you can just allow the substrate to dry out and don't keep it quite as moist.