Unlike printed newspaper, the unprinted sheets Paper towels are the preferred substrate for many reptiles. and fossorial enclosures. Rock against buying them despite pet store recommendations and the implied Many litters are marketed as "natural" or "biodegradable;" Hardware stores and builder supply stores generally carry two or more Feel free to experiment! sterilized. This Final Ranking: 4/5. The bottom line? Final Rating: 2.5/5. Unless cleaning up poop is your thing (???) Cleaning: The beneficial organisms that live in the soil will handle all of the cleaning – including your ball python’s waste and shed skins! The main issue with fir bark is that it is particular easy for amphibians and lizards to accidentally ingest while feeding. They are known to contain lead $21.06, $9.49 Zoo Med’s Excavator Clay Burrowing Substrate is probably the most widely used among keepers, and it works quite well for digging critters. compressed recycled paper fibers, processed plant fibers, or clay. Best for: Most species with the exception of those from dry or arid environments. are no safer for reptiles than other animal litters made of the same materials. Pieces may It also is not appropriate for amphibians because most small animal bedding spoils when wet. A good option for those who are in a pinch, any of the 3 aforementioned substrate options can provide an easy-to-clean and simple aesthetic that make them low maintenance and ideal for temporary husbandry. Some keepers don’t like the unnatural look of a carpet-lined cage, but, this is not a concern for your pet, as lizards do not care what their habitat looks like – they only care how it functions. Reptile keepers struggled for years to develop a way in which they could provide digging opportunities in a safe and practical manner, but there just weren’t many good options. Paper substrates are also a fantastic option for new keepers, who are still learning the ins and outs of reptile husbandry. with feces. Pros: easy to clean, no risk of animal ingesting substrate, Cons: requires frequent maintenance, does not offer cover or help maintain humidity levels, can be aesthetically unpleasing, Best for: Aquatic turtles like red-eared sliders, cooters and painted turtles, the water section of setups for semi-aquatic amphibians like bullfrogs or leopard frogs, highly arboreal species like chameleons and certain tree frogs (red-eyes, monkey frogs, etc.). it. Vermiculite is a mineral that is used in many different ways. Owners like sand for desert species of reptiles. Many of the litters made for cats are toxic to other animals. Some people use regular old play sand, but be careful to check it for rocks or debris that could cause problems if ingested. for any animal kept on them. indoor carpeting but is made for outdoor use as well. habitats may look natural and pleasing, but they are missing the key elements Cost. who have been in captivity for a long time. Different substrates will affect the humidity level of your enclosure differently. As such, you’ll want to be well versed in all things safe vs. dangerous substrate! large toy stores such as Toys R Us) this is a clean, medium-sized, rounded While it is often used as the sole litters are just plant or other pet litters repackaged and marketed to Pieces can They are made of wood shavings or compressed wood fibers, Cost: Cypress mulch sold specifically for reptiles costs about as much as coconut husk, at around $15-$30 per bag. $4.99, $15.00 Purchasing: This bedding usually needs to be purchased from a brick and mortar or online pet shop. It grows in bogs and decays into a soil additive called peat moss. Best for: Large river stones and rocks are okay for some tree frogs and aquatic turtles. or explicit wording on product packaging and advertisements. Small, sharp particulates may also scratch the protective covering of However, it can be very difficult to clean and has the potential to develop mold without regular maintenance, which hurts it in our overall ranking. The most common types of wood used to make bedding are pine, cedar, Douglas fir, aspen, and cypress. glued together, decorative rocky walls and caves. You can also purchase it at pet shops, online, or farm and feed stores. You can also microwave leaf litter to kill pests. Let’s just say substrate plays a MAJOR role in maintaining proper husbandry which DOES significantly affect a ball python’s lifespan. Do you all have an opinion on the silica in mulch for reptile use? And when it comes to gravel? The non-abrasive liner is easy to install, and helps reduce reptile odors. Size & Growth Charts Included! Pros: easy to clean, more attractive than newspaper, Cons: requires frequent cleaning, not suitable for species that require a moist or humid environment. from Master's Thesis Classroom Reptiles, Sonoma State University, Rohnert Some owners shred the towels and newspapers to create a "fluffier" type of bedding, which is good for burrowers, and others just put sheets down on the bottom of the enclosure. It can come in the form of shavings, pellets, and chips. Autoship & Save, $14.99 Cleaning: It can be hard to adequately spot-clean contaminated bedding, and even harder to identify when your snake defecates in the first place. As with sphagnum Autoship & Save, $6.15 It is important that stones are too large to be ingested. Sphagnum moss is the more substrate-like of the two, while Spanish moss is more commonly used as decoration. Litters or burrowable pockets for fossorial reptiles. The pellets must be cleaned out as soon as they It is also good for placing under shelters and hides on top of other substrates to provide humid microclimates. were accepted as a safe bedding for years before it was discovered that The substrate’s most basic function is to absorb waste produced by your pet. © 1994-2014 Melissa Some As such, getting acquainted with them now will help ensure you make the most informed pick possible for you and your pet. When water is added, it separates into many layers and expands into long worm-like pieces. Ackie Monitor Care Sheet: Habitat, Diet, and Care Advice for Owners, Red-Eyed Crocodile Skink Care, Habitat, & Diet Guide for Pet Owners. should be baked (as described for sphagnum moss above) or frozen for at Also, because it is generally kept dry in terrariums, sand won’t encourage fungal or bacterial growth like some other substrates. Silica May cause intestinal impactions if ingested. Fir bark was once the only natural substrate option marketed specifically for reptiles and amphibians. Moss / Potting Soil Additionally, some reptiles have been known to swallow gravel, which often leads to tragic results. Autoship & Save, $12.99 If you switch it up enough and carefully observe your snake, you might even discover which one they enjoy the most! Learn how to create a happy, healthy home for your pet. Before we discuss all of your options for substrate, let’s first briefly discuss what you should consider when comparing one substrate against another. Autoship & Save, $11.87 I have been researching mulches for my tiliqua and other reptiles. Fortunately, if you AREN’T happy with the substrate that you pick, you can always change it up during the next cage cleaning. Sand should not be used on its own with amphibians, although it can be mixed with soils to form a more natural substrate. with the sand. Humidity: Paper will absorb moisture, but it’s NOT particularly useful for impacting the enclosure’s humidity. Any input would be appreciated. Sometimes you will want to use a drainage layer of gravel or other material underneath so the soil doesn’t become waterlogged in particularly humid environments. Instead, it’s best to have two pieces of carpeting or mats so that when one is soiled it can be replaced with a clean one while the other is washed and then dried. Pine and cedar shavings surely seem natural, almost like something your ball python may encounter in the wild, right? Over time, they may build up in the gut causing a serious, even fatal, The best way to avoid this is by simply purchasing gravel comprised of rocks larger than your reptile’s head, thereby eliminating the possibility that they will swallow it. reptile owners. However, you can sift them in the same way you would sand, and they are easy to keep clean like sand substrates too. Pros: readily available at pet stores, aesthetically pleasing substrate for snakes, Cons: causes impactions if ingested, does not retain moisture as well as other natural substrates, can be dusty. impaction. It is important to pay attention to the moisture content of soil. a more artificial setup, keep in mind the greater amount of time, effort, Pros: long-lasting, holds moisture well, does not spoil easily, generally safe if swallowed, Cons: can irritate amphibians if not given time to fully expand and settle before use, will spoil if saturated with water for extended periods. Used alone for some reptiles, Cleaning: Snake poop is easy to see and easy to smell on aspen shavings. Gravel substrate for aquatic turtles. Bio-Active Soil Key Takeaways: Although on paper bio-active soil seems like it should take the top spot, the fact that it has a learning curve and can be difficult to perfect for first time owners, knocks it down into a close 2nd place.

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