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HI I currently have my tortoise in the tortoise table with 1" of sand and 1" of hemp top bedding on top of the sand but i have heard a lot of horror story's about hemp and injuries and costly vet treatment the other thing is i've heard people say top soil well my garden has all in the past month been treated with pet safe weedol weedkiller so don't want to use that plenty of fields around me but you know they will of been sprayed with farm chemicals at some point in the past so that's a no no the local garden center only do bulk bags like you get on a tipper lorry any ideas where i can get some topsoil from and what do i do just chuck the soil on top of the sand or mix it in with the sand or just put a pile in one corner of my table the set up is 32" x 18"
any help advice please
 

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GEM do organic compost and they are avaialable from alot of garden centres. failing that i have been told a fine grade of john innes from b and q can be used . never used it meself though as i have a staedy supply of GEM organic across the road from me. and hep can be dangerous, but ony if its ingested. feed from a big slate and that will minimise the risks. same with soil, that too can cause problems if eaten so feed off a big slate just tpo be sure.
 

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Plain garden soil mixed with playpit sand works well.
 

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I buy topsoil in bags from wickes and mix it with playpit sand 50:50.
I always feed of a large slate tile.
 

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I use hemp and find it a great substrate i advise to feed of a slate.
There has been alot of injurys just using top soil and sand, eye irritation.
Alot of people are using readigrass
 

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ive used the john innes soil, its superb!:2thumb:
 

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There has been alot of injurys just using top soil and sand, eye irritation.
I'd merely point out this is exactly what they live on in the wild. Pure sand in many cases.... I have not seen any signs of eye irritation (or injuries) there either. They have structural mechanisms to avoid this kind of damage. Compare the eye-lid structure of a T. graeca to a Redfoot, or Hingeback, for example. Used properly, and appropriately, a sand/soil substrate is entirely safe. Just avoid Calci-Sand (which is indeed problematic). I've personally kept literally hundred of tortoises on sand/soil substrates and not recorded one single problem in over 15 years.

I could show you some pretty gruesome photos of fatalities resulting fom sharp hemp pieces, however.

Andy Highfield
www.tortoisetrust.org
 

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I'd merely point out this is exactly what they live on in the wild. Pure sand in many cases.... I have not seen any signs of eye irritation (or injuries) there either. They have structural mechanisms to avoid this kind of damage. Compare the eye-lid structure of a T. graeca to a Redfoot, or Hingeback, for example. Used properly, and appropriately, a sand/soil substrate is entirely safe. Just avoid Calci-Sand (which is indeed problematic). I've personally kept literally hundred of tortoises on sand/soil substrates and not recorded one single problem in over 15 years.

I could show you some pretty gruesome photos of fatalities resulting fom sharp hemp pieces, however.

Andy Highfield
www.tortoisetrust.org

Presumably a tortoise in the wild wandering around rubbing its eyes would be eaten by some hovering predator as they would not be taken away for treatment by a vet ;) I have seen three cases of eye irritation from dry powdery sand in just the years I have been breeding torts and in babies I have sold. I do use it myself but attempt to keep it in the state it would be outdoors, by watering frequently which obviously washed nasties below the surface and allows the soil/sand to compact more.
I am assuming hemp is not available to them in the wild for comparison <vbg>
 

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i must admit i have been using hemp but after reading a lot of things on the forums i am changing it,i have noticed small pieces in doras poop and that is a worry.i do feed off a slate but dora doesnt help when she does her circuit of the perimeter of the table through her water bowl then over her food
 

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Presumably a tortoise in the wild wandering around rubbing its eyes would be eaten by some hovering predator as they would not be taken away for treatment by a vet ;) I have seen three cases of eye irritation from dry powdery sand in just the years I have been breeding torts and in babies I have sold. I do use it myself but attempt to keep it in the state it would be outdoors, by watering frequently which obviously washed nasties below the surface and allows the soil/sand to compact more.
I am assuming hemp is not available to them in the wild for comparison <vbg>
I like the way you keep your horsfields, and the way you mimic their natural environment as much as possible. In my opinion when keeping any tortoise, lizard, snake, etc, you should mimick their natural habitats as much as possible, and only use substrates that they would naturally encounter in the wild. Thats why Harry is now on soil, :2thumb: I personally would not use hemp, ive seen the nasty things it could do :devil:
 

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rather than start a whole new thread what would you guys recommend for mine....i have a baby greek tort, and a leopard tortoise of around 7in (obviously in seperate enclosures) i am currently using repti bed (i think thats what its called) the organic pelleted stuff they seem fine on it... but i do prefer the hemp bedding and just wondered if it would be suitable for both of mine...i was going to use the sand/soil mix but got told the same thing about possible eye irritations etc...
 

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I'd merely point out this is exactly what they live on in the wild. Pure sand in many cases.... I have not seen any signs of eye irritation (or injuries) there either. They have structural mechanisms to avoid this kind of damage. Compare the eye-lid structure of a T. graeca to a Redfoot, or Hingeback, for example. Used properly, and appropriately, a sand/soil substrate is entirely safe. Just avoid Calci-Sand (which is indeed problematic). I've personally kept literally hundred of tortoises on sand/soil substrates and not recorded one single problem in over 15 years.

I could show you some pretty gruesome photos of fatalities resulting fom sharp hemp pieces, however.

Andy Highfield
www.tortoisetrust.org

But, as you quite rightly pointed out to me a while ago, the humidity is different in the wild to the average home so people do have problems with sand sticking around eyes.

I asked a long time ago why people advise adding sand to soil... apart from the obvious reason of drainage... nobody seemed to have an answer. Is the answer simply because it more closely replicates what is found in some areas of some species natural habitat or is there another reason?

What's your take on aspen? I understand and respect your reason for not wanting to endorse hemp but aspen has no sharp pieces.
 

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I like the way you keep your horsfields, and the way you mimic their natural environment as much as possible. In my opinion when keeping any tortoise, lizard, snake, etc, you should mimick their natural habitats as much as possible, and only use substrates that they would naturally encounter in the wild. Thats why Harry is now on soil, :2thumb: I personally would not use hemp, ive seen the nasty things it could do :devil:

Thank you, the thing is though that I do use Aubiose in outdoor hides for my adult hermanns. I'm not about to throw bits of scrub and dead plant matter in there so use an alternative. It's not deep hemp and they certainly do not get fed in there so are not likely to ingest any. While out and about they have normal soil and rocky substrate. In all the years I have kept torts I have never had a problem with it. Before it was available I used chopped straw (many years ago) and did have a couple of problems with sharp bits on occasions.
 

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Andy, why not post the pics and people can see for themselves? I have seen them and would never use hemp again.

Lorna

I could show you some pretty gruesome photos of fatalities resulting fom sharp hemp pieces, however.

Andy Highfield
www.tortoisetrust.org[/QUOTE]
 

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But, as you quite rightly pointed out to me a while ago, the humidity is different in the wild to the average home so people do have problems with sand sticking around eyes.

I asked a long time ago why people advise adding sand to soil... apart from the obvious reason of drainage... nobody seemed to have an answer. Is the answer simply because it more closely replicates what is found in some areas of some species natural habitat or is there another reason?

What's your take on aspen? I understand and respect your reason for not wanting to endorse hemp but aspen has no sharp pieces.
Tina,

Sand only sticks if it is too wet. If it is dry enough (as in the wild) it does not. It can't. The point a lot of people seem to miss completely is that many of these tortoises spend their entire lives on it (and in it) in the wild. They cope with it perfectly: no injuries, no problems. Take a look at this, starting off with Testudo kleinmanni in Egypt:



That's sand.. more or less nothing but sand.



Testudo graeca graeca on sand - S. Morocco





Here's that substrate in closeup:



These animals are ADAPTED to it. If they had issues with it - they'd either be extinct or would have changed. In fact they have changed.

Take a close look at the eyes of say, Testudo kleinmanni or Psammobates species (that means "sand loving" incidentally). They are different eyes from Testudo ibera or Testudo hermanni. These latter two are rarely found on sand. They live on more loamy, heavier substrates, as seen here:



We recommend a 50/50 sand/soil mix as a starting point. No more. With T. kleinmanni, I personally use 100% sand. I bias it accordingly. The soild is added because it changes the moisture bearing capacity, primarily, and some of these species are not as suited to high sand levels as others. The exact makeup of substrates in the wild is something we will be looking at in much more detail over the next couple of fieldwork seasons.

Lorna, I would have to get permission to post the post mortem pictures as I dd not take them and therefore I do not own the copyright allowing posting to a public form.

I agree: aspen is much safer than hemcor (the hard, sharp stuff) all of the injuries and fatalities we have encountered have involved the latter, not the former.

Andy Highfield
www.tortoisetrust.org
 

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I always thought that the reason for a 50:50 mix was to obtain the properties of both?

Sand on its own is very free flowing and soil is very dusty when it dries (i.e. under a heat lamp!).

I always keep mine on a roughly 50:50 mix kept very slightly damp for the combination of compositon(from the soil) and lightness/reduced dust(from the sand).

I did a lot of research before getting into torts and thought I knew what was best for them, but the interesting thing about this forum is that it makes you constantly evaluate your husbandry!

I think you have to weigh up all available info and do what you think is best for your torts. Personally, I find soil and sand works and it makes sense to me over hemp/apen as it seems more natural.

I may up my hermans soil content when I get them out of hibernation and see how it goes!
 

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Andy, why not post the pics and people can see for themselves? I have seen them and would never use hemp again.

Lorna


Maybe you would like pics of the blind hermanns too Lorna. People ARE aware and are making up their own minds based on their own experiences and not trying to bully others into deciding. I think it is awful that these torts have died through either ingesting or spiking themselves on hemp, similarly it is awful how others have met their fates too. There are so many causes of death in all animals, so given the facts we have to make up our own minds. In 25+ years I have personally not lost any tortoise to any substrate choice and as already mentioned, it is down to how you use that substrate, not the substrate alone that is the cause.
 

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Tina,

I agree: aspen is much safer than hemcor (the hard, sharp stuff) all of the injuries and fatalities we have encountered have involved the latter, not the former.

To be fair Andy, most of us who use Aubiose have agreed that hemcore is horrible stuff. Not all brands are the same and therefore it should not be assumed that when the word 'hemp' is implied, it automatically relates to hemcore. As said so many times, it is the way it is used that is important just as in all substrates.
 

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I think its down to personal preferences, if some has had an unfortunate disaster with a certain substrate they are bound to recommend not to use it, try one of them u like and if u don't like it then change it, no substrate is totally safe, to be safe u would keep them on no substrate in sterile tables so its all down to you. The ones that have been mentioned are great, i use a Aspen substrate in two thirds of my table wit the other third as compost with live plants, hope this helps.
 

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I think its down to personal preferences, if some has had an unfortunate disaster with a certain substrate they are bound to recommend not to use it, try one of them u like and if u don't like it then change it, no substrate is totally safe, to be safe u would keep them on no substrate in sterile tables so its all down to you. The ones that have been mentioned are great, i use a Aspen substrate in two thirds of my table wit the other third as compost with live plants, hope this helps.
^ I agree... 100%.

Even within the same species in the wild they will live on different types of 'substrate' so, personally, I don't think anyone can make carte blanche recommendations.
 
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