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Perfect Russian Tortoise Substrate?!?!? Dry? Moist? How thick?

Discussion in 'Tortoise Enclosure Substrate' started by BShepherd, Sep 28, 2014.

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  1. BShepherd

    BShepherd New Member

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    Hello, I am new to the forum and finding it very insightful. I have been wanting a Russian Tortoise for awhile. I am planning on getting a habitat enclosure all set up in the next couple of months and once every thing I prepared and researched I will be bringing home a Russian Tortoise, to join our family

    I am really curious about the perfect substrate to use.

    1. If I use Coco Coir, should it be mixed with anything else?
    2. Should it be kept dry or wet? I have heard some say dry, some say wet, some say moist. Opinions?!?!
    3. How deep should substrate be in my inside enclosure?
    4. How often should it be changed?
    5. I am getting a kiddie pool for a temporary outside sun basking area for my tortoise to use on warm days. Should it have a different substrate? Or the same as inside?
  2. russian/sulcata/tortoise

    russian/sulcata/tortoise Well-Known Member 5 Year Member

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    for me i just use dirt cause they live outside lol. heres there enclosure with things to climb on, grass and weeds to eat, and a water dish.

    unnamed-14.jpg
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  3. Yellow Turtle01

    Yellow Turtle01 Well-Known Member 5 Year Member

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    I use plain coco coir my russian! It hold humidity sooo well, it's digestible, and it smells nice :p
    The best way to tell if your (IMHO!) coir is too wet is to pick it up, and squeeze. if water drips out, too wet. If it's too dry, it'll just fall down. It should hold a shape in your hand, and not drip.
    I spot clean his poop and food once a day, and clean once a year. It's not very dirty, really.
    I just have him on the ground itself outside, with twohigh cinder block walls.
    Please read this- http://www.tortoiseforum.org/threads/russian-tortoise-care-sheet.80698/
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  4. Jodie

    Jodie Well-Known Member 5 Year Member

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    Coco coir is great all by itself. For a kiddie pool outsie i would use coir as wll. Make sure there are plenty of places to hide and get away from the sun. I don't have Russians,but believe they like to dig, so deeper substrate is better. Good luck and good job doing your research ahead of time.
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  5. Yellow Turtle01

    Yellow Turtle01 Well-Known Member 5 Year Member

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    Yep, they love to dig! They are little escape artists, so be careful outside. Funny thing, my russain doesn't like to dig outdoors! So your guy may want more or less substrate depending on what he likes to do.
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  6. Tom

    Tom The Dog Trainer 5 Year Member Platinum Tortoise Club

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    Indoors I would use plain coco coir for a smaller one, or plain coco chips or orchid bark for and adult. I like a depth of at least 4" for smaller ones and more for bigger ones, and I hand pack it. Keep it damp, but not wet.

    Outdoors I would use yard dirt.

    I spot clean it as needed and never replace it until that tortoise moves out of that enclosure.

    Here is a care sheet and another thread for you:
    http://www.tortoiseforum.org/threads/russian-tortoise-care-sheet.80698/
    http://www.tortoiseforum.org/threads/beginner-mistakes.45180/
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  7. macky9326

    macky9326 Active Member

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    So your telling me I've been spending a fortune on pro rep stuff when I can get a plain 50L bag of coco coir for£11.99???

    Because his current substrate isn't deep enough and I need new did so if you guys are recommending that for an indoor enclosure???
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  8. jeffjeff

    jeffjeff Well-Known Member

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    indoors i use coco coir mostly. i have about 6-8 inch and wet it using a kiddy watering can. i try to keep it damp enough you can pack it together like a snow ball but it will crumble and fall apart easily if u drop it. this seems to work after an hrs or so the top is dry but still damp under neath. i water it while he is having a soak that way the water soaks in to the coir before he goes back in. out side its just the top soil that was already there.
  9. lismar79

    lismar79 Well-Known Member 5 Year Member

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    I use coir too. I put about three inches of fir bark on top so it doesn't get tracked into the food dish or water dish
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  10. Jodie

    Jodie Well-Known Member 5 Year Member

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    A lot of supplies can be purchased a lot less expensive at the hardware store. Thermometers is another big one.
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  11. Yellow Turtle01

    Yellow Turtle01 Well-Known Member 5 Year Member

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    Yep. Coco coir is super cheap if you look in the right place :D Another things at hardware stores if you have a super high wattage bulb (the 250w lamps at stores are so expensive!) they'll have 200w+ for cheap at livestock stores for baby chickens and such.
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  12. Magilla504

    Magilla504 Active Member

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    I have recently been experimenting with different substrates for my Russians.Right now I have about 75 percent peat moss with coir being the other 25. Seems to hold humidity pretty well in my tortoise table. I'll lightly top with cypress mulch . I buy the peat moss for 10 bucks at lowes and a bag of cypress mulch is about 4 or 5 bucks.
  13. Tom

    Tom The Dog Trainer 5 Year Member Platinum Tortoise Club

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    Yes on both questions.
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  14. HuyckB04

    HuyckB04 New Member

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    I've read in other forums that plain coco coir is the way to go, but it can be mixed with equal part sand. I'm using plain coir. As for the humidity, I'm not sure. I've read that adding humidity to a russian tortoise's substrate causes respiratory infections and should be avoided. I've also read that it needs a good misting once a day. Another place said to only humidify the hide. So...yeah. Good question.
  15. russian/sulcata/tortoise

    russian/sulcata/tortoise Well-Known Member 5 Year Member

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    i would have to disagree adding sand to a torts cage because the tort may eat the sand and that can harm the torts intestines. also there should be some humidity in a russians enclosure, usually less then other species.:):tort:
  16. Jodie

    Jodie Well-Known Member 5 Year Member

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    Sand can cause implantation, so is not a great option. As long as the temperature is kept warm, there is no problem with high humidity. Humidity prevents pyramiding
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  17. leigti

    leigti Well-Known Member 5 Year Member

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    250 W is a really hot bulb. You would need a huge enclosure for a bulb like that and it would have to be far away from your tortoise or else you will cook him.maybe I misunderstood what you were saying but I just had to put that out there.
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  18. Yellow Turtle01

    Yellow Turtle01 Well-Known Member 5 Year Member

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    :D No, not a bulb, but a lamp fixture to hold the bulb. Even if I only have a 60w bulb, I always get the highest wattage lamp... just to be safe :)
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  19. leigti

    leigti Well-Known Member 5 Year Member

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    Oh okay sorry. I thought that might be what you meant but I wasn't sure.I didn't want any tortoise to get barbecued :)
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  20. Mikeysmama

    Mikeysmama Active Member

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    SO GLAD I came across this thread!! I'm having the exact same issues, I thought torts were dry climate creatures but I keep reading about wet enclosues?? So as long as they are soaked a few times a week and are kept nice a cozy warm I dont need to wet the substrate all the time? I will get the coco coir for sure! :) thank you everyone for the help!
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