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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Over the years I've kept my snakes on all manor of substrates, each having its own pros and cons.

Last summer I moved my collection over to Orchard bark in order to raise humidity and reduce dust (one of the main reasons orchard bark is promoted). Nine months on, and I'm looking again for something that's more suited. The problem is that bark is so dusty. As part of the monthly strip and clean I sieve and wash the bark in order to reduce the dust. Now using ceramics to heat the vivs may play a part in this, but humidity is typically 55% - 65% without spraying.

So what options are there? A Bio setup is out of the question, for one I don't have the option to rehouse the snakes whilst the sealant drys, and the wife is not keen on adding bugs inside the house (other then the ones she doesn't see under the floorboards :) ) - I feed in the viv, and ingestion of substrate has never been a problem, but I wouldn't want something that would swell inside the gut (such as some cat litter products.

Or have I simply been supplied a low grade product ? Any of your guys who use orchard bark experience this problem ?
 

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Hi malc
I too use Orchid bark and have the same problem for my boas , I’ve tried everything too the eco earth was a nightmare for getting everywhere especially in the glass grooves and in the water dishes
, I also have to re soak it when I have a clean up, I feel the ceramic is the problem and feel the weight of the snakes also helps break it down faster, I don’t think there is really much more out there as you say
Looks great and does hold the humidity quite well so really don’t know


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As above really ...

Thing is Orchid bark is soooo good as a substrate - holds as much or as little humidity as required - makes your snakes look fabulous and it makes the vivs and plants look great ..

When I open a new bag of Orchid bark I sieve all the dust out ... eventually it does break down of course but I'm pretty keen on regular spot cleaning so when it's necessary you can scoop it all out and sieve it again and put it back ... it just keeps the dust to a minimum until it's replaced as normal .
A quick fix is to get a couple of pieces of damp kitchen roll or an old damp cloth and wipe the viv floor this collects an awful lot of the dust then just chuck it away .



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I also use orchid bark for all my vivs, but as my largest vivs take 140 litres it works out been quite expensive. So what i do is mix a couple of bricks of coco coir in with the bark. Which bulks out the substrate and maintains a good humidity. The only problem is when the coir dries out is tend to get into the glass runners.
 

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I’ve added the coir in before to my bark, they have 70l bags of orchid bark on ebay for £23 so works out loads cheaper than getting the smaller bags from pet shops


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We keep our boa and retics on news paper. All have ceramic heaters (the boa has a tube heater in addition). In general this is ok for humidity - we know to spray the retics a bit more when they go into shed.

The boa was on orchid bark for a time, I really didn't like it and found that it dried and then turned dusty really quickly (plus the risk of ingesting big bits). I struggled to breath with the dry dusty air when I put my head in to clean out - so I figured it wouldn't be good for the snake either.

I think the best option is bio. But perhaps the same mix without bio active clean up would also make a good substrate. Some parts soil, bark, moss. to get the humidity right.

If you're using bark for humidity and dont like the bark you could try to raise humidity in an alternate way - e.g. block ventilation, use a moss box, spray daily, using a second/bigger water bowl?

I have gone round in circles about this.
 

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With any substrate you can simply place pieces of card down and feed OVER the card ... I use those inserts you get in boxes of biscuits and chocolates...


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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Thanks for the confirmation that the dust is normal with bark chippings. My main concern was that the dust was so fine it could cause irritation or at worse some form of RI.

I too buy 70ltr bags for around £25 delivered, which does all four of my vivs. It's strange that no matter how deep you layer up the bark, the snakes still push it around to expose the bottom of the viv.... and that's normally where they urinate :)
 

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In recent months I have been experimenting with brassica oleracea capitata.
This wholely natural substance can be either shredded or left in its more normal, seperated form.
It is very natural looking, forming good burrowing opportunities, and produces no dust as it dries out. It is readily available on most high streets, and two large "heads" will easily cover the largest of vivs for around £3.
Whilst it is not very absorbent, individual "leaves" can be removed easily when soiled.
After around two weeks, the odour usually masks that of the wife's feet. :whistling2:
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
In recent months I have been experimenting with brassica oleracea capitata.
This wholely natural substance can be either shredded or left in its more normal, seperated form.
It is very natural looking, forming good burrowing opportunities, and produces no dust as it dries out. It is readily available on most high streets, and two large "heads" will easily cover the largest of vivs for around £3.
Whilst it is not very absorbent, individual "leaves" can be removed easily when soiled.
After around two weeks, the odour usually masks that of the wife's feet. :whistling2:
Any preference to red white or traditional green variety ???
 

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Any preference to red white or traditional green variety ???
My main point was supposed to be that there is only positives to be gained by accidental ingestion. But I forgot to write that bit. :blush:

I'd be both impressed and saddened if you didn't have to google it though!
 

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Interesting thread. I've been using aspen up to this point, so it's good to learn that orchid bark could raise humidity.
I've been using a moss box up to this point to compensate for 35% - 45% humidity (60w CHE in a 3x1.5x1.5), which I quite like because after the shed I put the moss into the vivarium to add some more natural materials/stimulation.

Speaking of natural stuff, I want to do some live planting. I think I will go for a peace lily - do you guys have any experience with live planting and, if so, what would you recommend for a potting mix and any other general advice?
 

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Malc , my 2p worth mate.

Likewise I've experimented with all manner of bedding options with the goal of allowing snakes an option to 'bury' themselves , plus aid in sloughing.

The problem for me with bark type substrate is they simply retain too much stale moisture 'under floor' and imo not absorbent enough.

One option I leaned towards was megazorb , its made from wood pulp , a by product from the paper making industry and its used for horse bedding.

http://www.northerncropdriers.co.uk/megazorb
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Al, thanks for the suggestion.

Watching the video / testimony the woman in the clip kept banging on about the absorbency and the way it dries out moisture in other products. So how does this hold up where humidity is required?
 

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Al, thanks for the suggestion.

Watching the video / testimony the woman in the clip kept banging on about the absorbency and the way it dries out moisture in other products. So how does this hold up where humidity is required?
No worries , your welcome Malc.

Yep its the super absorbency that I appreciated and its ability to reduce odours is a nice bonus.
To be honest I never tried it in a reverse scenario ie retaining moisture , It has very little dust unlike traditional wood based substrates, which always helps if spraying substrates with water.

Another factor that attracts me is the comparatively low price per bale/sack and a little goes a long way, my local spot has it priced at £7.10 a pop :no1:: victory:
 

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No idea? Not sure I've ever found a an ideal substrate for all as some suit one and not another.



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Good point mate , its all about what suits your species I guess.

For me personally I'm coming from mainly a colubrid viewpoint in terms of environment parameters
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Nearest "official" supplier has the large bails for around £13, but have seen it advertised around the £8 mark, although googling the stuff seems to suggest that the cheaper stuff is more dusty, unless it was a batch issue.

I'm due to strip down and clean my vivs soon so will order some and see how it works out.
 

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Just a word of warning from a former horse owner - not sure if Megazorb, but some horse bedding used to have essential oils or citronella added to it, to discourage horses from eating it and to help reduce flies... if you do get any, make sure you get the type that has nothing added to it.

I use lignocel for my corns. It's not dusty at all, plus if it gets wet it doesn't go mouldy. The only problem is that when wet, it sticks to everything like hell. The only regurge l've ever had from my female was when l fed her in her viv, she rolled the back end of the mouse in lignocel, which then completely blocked her mouth. She became so distressed she immediately threw up the mouse...

I also use the orchid bark for one part of the vivs to givemy snakes some variety, and l have to sieve it as well :-/

Used to use aspen but it was really dusty, plus would go mouldy pretty fast if water spilled on it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
Well I picked up a 85ltr bag of megazorb this afternoon and have changed the snakes over. Must say its an interesting product, looks like gravel, feels like paper.

The amount of dust that got thrown up whilst removing the bark chippings was unbelievable...hopefully that's now not a problem.
 
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