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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Does anyone have any experience using crinkle paper or shredded paper as a substrate? I am thinking about using this on top of paper sheets. I am looking for a dark substrate for my black rat snake that is safe and allows for digging. It says its non-toxic to animals and humans. But just wondering if anyone has any experience or knowledge about using this stuff.
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I wouldn't bother. It'll look horrible & you'll have a job seeing the snake against it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
I'd be concerned about it causing a blockage. Wet paper clumps together.
🙁 I had looked for paper because I was under the impression that a lot of people use paper for substrates and that it was the safest. So far these are the substrates I have heard can cause impaction now from forum posts and care guides:

Paper, Any Sand, Coconut husk/fiber, Aspen shavings, Soil, Mulch (Cypress), Bark, Hemp

And that isnt even including all the other ways the substrate can hurt/kill the snake.

Mulch is too sharp and has injured/killed snakes from impaling
Bark is typically made of fir which about 50% say is also toxic (Or pine which is worse)
Aspen and hemp are "too dusty" and can cause RI

But for every post that way there is another saying that its perfectly safe and people have been using for 30+ years without issue.

It's maddening. I believe the only thing I have found people agree on is that cedar and pine (99% also say calcisand) is terrible. I do appreciate the feedback tho. Sorry for going off a bit (Definitely not directed at you or anyone else for that matter) I just really want to give my snake a good home and after literally researching for 4-5 months I cant find anything safe.
 

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🙁 I had looked for paper because I was under the impression that a lot of people use paper for substrates and that it was the safest. So far these are the substrates I have heard can cause impaction now from forum posts and care guides:

Paper, Any Sand, Coconut husk/fiber, Aspen shavings, Soil, Mulch (Cypress), Bark, Hemp

And that isnt even including all the other ways the substrate can hurt/kill the snake.

Mulch is too sharp and has injured/killed snakes from impaling
Bark is typically made of fir which about 50% say is also toxic (Or pine which is worse)
Aspen and hemp are "too dusty" and can cause RI

But for every post that way there is another saying that its perfectly safe and people have been using for 30+ years without issue.

It's maddening. I believe the only thing I have found people agree on is that cedar and pine (99% also say calcisand) is terrible. I do appreciate the feedback tho. Sorry for going off a bit (Definitely not directed at you or anyone else for that matter) I just really want to give my snake a good home and after literally researching for 4-5 months I cant find anything safe.
Not true about impaction with those if your temperatures & other husbandry are up to scratch- all of those should pass harmlessly through the snake if small amounts are ingested.
Have a read of this: Sticky Loose substrates & the myth of gut compaction.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Orchid bark.
Please correct me if I am wrong about this, but the way I understand it the term "Orchid bark" is used to describe bark used for planting orchids and not a specific type of bark. The only things I have seen listed as Orchid bark are either Fir bark or Pine bark (Mostly the ones i have found contain a mix of the 2).
 

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🙁 I had looked for paper because I was under the impression that a lot of people use paper for substrates and that it was the safest. So far these are the substrates I have heard can cause impaction now from forum posts and care guides:

Paper, Any Sand, Coconut husk/fiber, Aspen shavings, Soil, Mulch (Cypress), Bark, Hemp

And that isnt even including all the other ways the substrate can hurt/kill the snake.

Mulch is too sharp and has injured/killed snakes from impaling
Bark is typically made of fir which about 50% say is also toxic (Or pine which is worse)
Aspen and hemp are "too dusty" and can cause RI

But for every post that way there is another saying that its perfectly safe and people have been using for 30+ years without issue.

It's maddening. I believe the only thing I have found people agree on is that cedar and pine (99% also say calcisand) is terrible. I do appreciate the feedback tho. Sorry for going off a bit (Definitely not directed at you or anyone else for that matter) I just really want to give my snake a good home and after literally researching for 4-5 months I cant find anything safe.
Paper in sheet form has been used for decades, but shredded paper is a different ball game.

Reptichip would be fine for a leucistic snake, its readily available in the US, as is a selection of other coco husk based products.

As for Hemp, I've been using a product called Aubiose which is marketed in the UK as a horse bedding for the past 10 months as a substrate for my royals, boa and Bairds rat snake, and none have shown any signs of RI's. However it being a light colour doesn't set off a white snake.

As for cedar and pine, it the sap form these trees that snakes (mainly rat snakes) find irritating. Aspen, and white wood shavings have been used in the past (I personally used a product in the UK called "snowflake premium" which was small softwood shavings).

There was an old 2018 post where we discussed various substrates most of which was my own observations (ie making reptichip too wet) Have a read
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Not true about impaction with those if your temperatures & other husbandry are up to scratch- all of those should pass harmlessly through the snake if small amounts are ingested.
Have a read of this: Sticky Loose substrates & the myth of gut compaction.
I have read thru that thread a few times actually. That's one of the reasons that I mentioned that people say substrates are safe when others say they arent. To be honest I would prefer to use black sand with her (visually) but there are so many guides/comments about it not being safe. As for temps and other husbandry stuff I am new to snakes, so I am not sure I trust myself completely with this. I have followed the care guides as close as I can and from what I can tell my temps/humidity are good. She eats and sheds well so far (only had her 3 weeks) but right now I have her on paper towels so I can monitor her bowel movements and make sure she doesnt have mites or anything. Honestly I would keep her on them forever (since its easy to clean and cheap) except that I hear they do like to dig so I wanted a substrate for her to allow for it.
 

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Please correct me if I am wrong about this, but the way I understand it the term "Orchid bark" is used to describe bark used for planting orchids and not a specific type of bark. The only things I have seen listed as Orchid bark are either Fir bark or Pine bark (Mostly the ones i have found contain a mix of the 2).
I have no idea what it's called in the States. However in the UK you can buy what is basically orchid bark as a reptile substrate. It has various names in the trade.
Just look for bark chips being sold in a reptile shop. The colour will really help show off the colour of your snake, and it is fairly natural as a substrate. Much better than shredded paper intended for packaging.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Paper in sheet form has been used for decades, but shredded paper is a different ball game.

Reptichip would be fine for a leucistic snake, its readily available in the US, as is a selection of other coco husk based products.

As for Hemp, I've been using a product called Aubiose which is marketed in the UK as a horse bedding for the past 10 months as a substrate for my royals, boa and Bairds rat snake, and none have shown any signs of RI's. However it being a light colour doesn't set off a white snake.

As for cedar and pine, it the sap form these trees that snakes (mainly rat snakes) find irritating. Aspen, and white wood shavings have been used in the past (I personally used a product in the UK called "snowflake premium" which was small softwood shavings).

There was an old 2018 post where we discussed various substrates most of which was my own observations (ie making reptichip too wet) Have a read
Makes sense about the shredded vs sheet paper. Thats why I wanted to see if shredded would work.

I was worried about the strings from the reptichip. Maybe they arent an issue, but it seemed like it would be more common for accidental ingestion.

I prefer not to use hemp/aspen, but thats great to hear your snakes havnt has RI concerns with them!

I read through that entire post. Thanks for doing all that research. Great info, but it seems like the end sentiment was that there is not ideal substrate. Which is really a bummer. Also I should mention that this is my only snake so I am less worried about smells right now. Maybe I should be? So far her enclosure has had 0 smell at all, but she is on paper towels and I clean the same day right now (Plus she is only 1.5 months old). Im not saying this in regard to the cedar/pine, but in regards to using substrates that dont mask smells. I dont mind that as much right now.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
I have no idea what it's called in the States. However in the UK you can buy what is basically orchid bark as a reptile substrate. It has various names in the trade.
Just look for bark chips being sold in a reptile shop. The colour will really help show off the colour of your snake, and it is fairly natural as a substrate. Much better than shredded paper intended for packaging.
I can get Repta-bark from Flukers. All the other "Reptile Bark" or "Orchid Bark" I could find say they are made from fir or fir/pine. Flukers doesnt specify at all so not sure what they use.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Has anyone tried Desert Snow? I realize this is bright white and so is my snake, but it looks like its soft enough not to worry about a small snake getting hurt and would allow burrowing. It is made from hardwood pulp and it claims to be virutally dust free, non-toxic, and absorbent. Not sure if it would have same impaction issues? I am ok with the snake blending in if I cant get a dark substrate that is safe for her and would prefer bright white to the look/dust of aspen.

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You can side step substrate ingestion completely by putting the food item on a plate or a tuppaware lid when you offer it.

Also, drying the food with a hair dryer stops stuff sticking to it so much.

My favourite substrates are: topsoil and coconut coir. Though I do use paper towel in the hatchling rack.

The worst culprits are my false water cobras. They like to eat frogs legs, fish and fish portions in addition to rodents. They like to grab these wet food items and drag them around the viv for reasons unknown. They also go full psycho if you try to help pick substrate off the food with tongs whilst they eat it. Fortunately false water cobras are enthusiastic poopers and jettison waste out like a crowd-control water cannon. I don't think any amount of substrate could block them up/stem the tide of turds.
 

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Has anyone tried Desert Snow? I realize this is bright white and so is my snake, but it looks like its soft enough not to worry about a small snake getting hurt and would allow burrowing. It is made from hardwood pulp and it claims to be virutally dust free, non-toxic, and absorbent. Not sure if it would have same impaction issues? I am ok with the snake blending in if I cant get a dark substrate that is safe for her and would prefer bright white to the look/dust of aspen.

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No idea what that is but I would ignore it. And with a white snake, you'll never see it!!
Get bark chip.
Aspen is fine but it's more functional than aesthetic.
Reptile bark, under whatever name you find it, will be the right substrate.
It's been used for decades without problem.
Rat snakes are not burrowers so you don't need to worry about that. They are climbers.
Honestly, you are seriously overthinking the substrate.
Bark chip will look great. But don't buy cheap garden centre bark, it takes ages rinsing and drying. I tried it, I would far rather pay extra for reptile-specific substrate than go through that again!
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
No idea what that is but I would ignore it. And with a white snake, you'll never see it!!
Get bark chip.
Aspen is fine but it's more functional than aesthetic.
Reptile bark, under whatever name you find it, will be the right substrate.
It's been used for decades without problem.
Rat snakes are not burrowers so you don't need to worry about that. They are climbers.
Honestly, you are seriously overthinking the substrate.
Bark chip will look great. But don't buy cheap garden centre bark, it takes ages rinsing and drying. I tried it, I would far rather pay extra for reptile-specific substrate than go through that again!
Thanks for the info Ian. I do tend to overthink things like this trying to get the "perfect" substrate. Anyway do you think that reptile bark too harsh for a young snake or is it ok?
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
You can side step substrate ingestion completely by putting the food item on a plate or a tuppaware lid when you offer it.

Also, drying the food with a hair dryer stops stuff sticking to it so much.

My favourite substrates are: topsoil and coconut coir. Though I do use paper towel in the hatchling rack.

The worst culprits are my false water cobras. They like to eat frogs legs, fish and fish portions in addition to rodents. They like to grab these wet food items and drag them around the viv for reasons unknown. They also go full psycho if you try to help pick substrate off the food with tongs whilst they eat it. Fortunately false water cobras are enthusiastic poopers and jettison waste out like a crowd-control water cannon. I don't think any amount of substrate could block them up/stem the tide of turds.
Thanks for the suggestion for feeding on lid. So far she doesnt drag her food around at all so that might work well. Thats interesting about the FWC's. I thought about getting an egyptian false cobra (I know its a completely different species), but I decided it wasnt a good beginner snake probably. Also there is very little if any info out there about their venom.
 

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I think you are being very over cautious... I've had my 8' boa miss the rat and get a mouthful of both megazorb and Aubiose, which it had no choice but to swallow it - snake was fine afterward on both occasions. In the wild the snake may ingest dirt, leaf litter, small twigs and anything else that get stuck to the food item. The snake's digestive system can deal with this, it's been designed to work with natural things.

If you want something smaller try the finer chipping reptichip here -

Orchid Bark looks like this - In the UK you can get coarse, medium and fine grad chips. - I'm sure you'll find this in the US



 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
I think you are being very over cautious... I've had my 8' boa miss the rat and get a mouthful of both megazorb and Aubiose, which it had no choice but to swallow it - snake was fine afterward on both occasions. In the wild the snake may ingest dirt, leaf litter, small twigs and anything else that get stuck to the food item. The snake's digestive system can deal with this, it's been designed to work with natural things.

If you want something smaller try the finer chipping reptichip here -

Orchid Bark looks like this - In the UK you can get coarse, medium and fine grad chips. - I'm sure you'll find this in the US
Yea that seems to be the sentiment. Haha. Anyway ill see if I can find some orchid bark and test it out.
 
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