New Member
Jun 17, 2019
Location (City and/or State)
Hi everybody! I am new to this particular forum but look forward to meeting some fellow tortoise owners.

Background: I have a rescue Russian tortoise who I quite literally found abandoned on a median here in Florida. She was clearly neglected in her previous home, having an incredibly overgrown beak and nails. During her vet checkup (about a week after I initially found her) the vet confirmed that she had worms: pin worms and roundworms. She went on antibiotics (Baytril) and dewormer (Panacur) for a few weeks and now she is a healthy, happy girl.

She currently lives outdoors for several reasons, including a lack of indoor space considering I have two lizards and five turtles. She lives in a modified Christmas tree storage bin with a screen lid, which has worked really well in providing her with space and also security from raccoons and other predators.

The tub has drainage holes drilled into the bottom, and as for substrate, the tub has a drainage layer of pea gravel (about 2.5"), then a blend of cypress mulch and bioactive reptile soil (I think Zoo Med brand). I had previously filled her sleeping house with timothy hay, which she loves, but I can't any more because of the issue I am posting about.

It has just started to become the rainy season here in FL, meaning that it rains either all day or really strongly for brief periods, every day. Her enclosure is located against the house and partially under the overhang of the roof, so it does get decent protection from the rain as long as it is coming down straight.

I just went to feed her and found that a ton of roach nymphs have moved into the bin, mostly in the wet hay from last nights' rain. I've taken it all out, but I can't control the bugs that live outside. Just as a note for any non-Floridians, roaches here don't equal mess... her enclosure is cleaned daily, but bugs are a major part of life here.

My question is, is there a substrate that would help with keeping the moisture level down, inherently deterring roaches? I know pure play sand isn't good for them, but surely there has to be something better. Any input from outdoor keepers or fellow Floridians would be appreciated. Thank you!

Yvonne G

Old Timer
TFO Admin
10 Year Member!
Platinum Tortoise Club
Jan 23, 2008
Location (City and/or State)
Clovis, CA
It would be better if you could put up some sort of fence in that same area and get rid of the bin enclosure. That way the ground would have drainage. You might try leaves, but I think anything you use is going to be a haven for bugs. I have bugs in my indoor enclosures and have no idea how they got there. It's just a fact of life with a warm, humid environment. The bugs like it as much as the tortoise does.


The member formerly known as captain awesome
10 Year Member!
Aug 15, 2008
Location (City and/or State)
I agree an outdoor non tub enclosure would be best if it is doable.

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