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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Time & again there are posts by keepers of snakes & lizards saying they use paper, tile or carpet flooring in preference to a natural loose substrate because of 'too high a risk' of gut compaction in case the reptile ingests any of the substrate.
But this is largely a myth, & if correct husbandry & a properly suitable substrate is used, compaction need never occur.

Benefits of a loose substrate are as follows:
It looks more natural.
It allows the reptile to dig & burrow.
It absorbs smells of faeces & urates.

Negative points of solid flooring such as paper, lino, carpet etc:
It looks awful.
It denies the reptile its natural instinct to dig.
It smells when the reptile poops.

There are of course, some loose substrates that are not advisable:
Wood chips.
Calci sand.
These really can cause gut impaction.

Suggested loose substrates:
Eco earth.
Play sand.
Soil.
Orchid bark.
prepackaged substrates.
Sand/soil mix.
Auboise.
Aspen.
Which of those you use depends on the type of reptile of course.

Also, bear this in mind:
Reptiles rarely encounter paper, lino, carpet or tiles in the wild (not unless they come across them on a rubbish dump or anywhere like that). They do however, live on loose substrates such as sand, soil, gravel, rubble & leaf mould, & gut impaction doesn't seem to be a problem there.
Therefore, loose substrates shouldn't be a problem for your pets. Even if a reptile does ingest some substrate, if your husbandry is up to scratch it will pass safely through the gut. Many reptiles will spit it out anyway.
 

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Just to pull the other thread in as it has quite a bit of useful info and viewpoints on the issue.

http://www.reptileforums.co.uk/forums/lizards/1151986-substrates-myth-impaction.html

Its a common issue and widely misunderstood, people hear of impaction and blame it immediately on loose substrate, but theres much more to it.

Its not the substrate, its the care that actually creates the situation that the substrate can then lead to impaction, and more people really need to get to grips with this and learn about it.

Removing the loose substrate only has a negative impact, and if the care is not correct, those environmental issues will simply cause problems elsewhere (dehydration, incorrect heat, poor diet etc can ALL have far, far more serious implications if left unchecked).
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Just to pull the other thread in as it has quite a bit of useful info and viewpoints on the issue.

http://www.reptileforums.co.uk/forums/lizards/1151986-substrates-myth-impaction.html

Its a common issue and widely misunderstood, people hear of impaction and blame it immediately on loose substrate, but theres much more to it.

Its not the substrate, its the care that actually creates the situation that the substrate can then lead to impaction, and more people really need to get to grips with this and learn about it.

Removing the loose substrate only has a negative impact, and if the care is not correct, those environmental issues will simply cause problems elsewhere (dehydration, incorrect heat, poor diet etc can ALL have far, far more serious implications if left unchecked).
I have asked Stephen P to sticky my post & also add it to the snake section as a sticky.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Just getting the ok from the others :2thumb:

Anything else you would like to add?
Just that one at the mo, thanks. Hopefully it will save any of us having to type up an explanation every time the subject comes up. Same thing for snakes too.
 

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Done.

We'll wait a few days and if there are no more comments/additions we can delete the last few discussion posts and then lock so it is there for information purposes in both Sections.
 

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Thank you for this. I am certainly one of those new-ish to reptiles that heard the word impaction and freaked out. I previously tried to avoid any possibility of it via substrate. Saying that though, when I first got my beardie she was on aspen bedding and I did catch her eating it the first week, snatched it from her mouth and removed it completely as I panicked. I did research online and it is all very contradicting, seems you can't do right from wrong no matter your exprrience, so I took the safer option.
I have recently been working on making her tank more of a natural habitat for her and I appreciate the knowledge this forum has provided to me, even though it may contradict any previous research I had done on my own. :)

I don't have anything else to add but just wanted to say thanks and spiel my heart out lol.
 

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steak me to a post

sadly i use 2 types of sub straight on my base floor mostly i use Beach chips or shredded corn, i tend to keep away from sand, i find the beach absorbs any feces and neutralizes any smells. the corn is meant to be the perfect substrate as the dragons can digest it but having but is hard to keep clean so should the dragon eat it makes me wonder what is on what they eat.
i am moving to a mix of sand and topsoil using uv lighting so it stays moist.
i am testing 1ooo luminous LED over a peat bed to see the drying affect i plan to test with my bearded dragons as this would make the vivarium very bright like full sunlight. these light look good for lighting as they are 10w and cool to the touch after 10 hours on but not good for basking.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
sadly i use 2 types of sub straight on my base floor mostly i use Beach chips or shredded corn, i tend to keep away from sand, i find the beach absorbs any feces and neutralizes any smells. the corn is meant to be the perfect substrate as the dragons can digest it but having but is hard to keep clean so should the dragon eat it makes me wonder what is on what they eat.
i am moving to a mix of sand and topsoil using uv lighting so it stays moist.
i am testing 1ooo luminous LED over a peat bed to see the drying affect i plan to test with my bearded dragons as this would make the vivarium very bright like full sunlight. these light look good for lighting as they are 10w and cool to the touch after 10 hours on but not good for basking.
Sand & soil is an excellent choice. Or you could use one of the prepackaged substrates specially for beardies & other desert/steppe species.
 

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sadly i use 2 types of sub straight on my base floor mostly i use Beach chips or shredded corn, i tend to keep away from sand, i find the beach absorbs any feces and neutralizes any smells. the corn is meant to be the perfect substrate as the dragons can digest it but having but is hard to keep clean so should the dragon eat it makes me wonder what is on what they eat.
i am moving to a mix of sand and topsoil using uv lighting so it stays moist.
i am testing 1ooo luminous LED over a peat bed to see the drying affect i plan to test with my bearded dragons as this would make the vivarium very bright like full sunlight. these light look good for lighting as they are 10w and cool to the touch after 10 hours on but not good for basking.
Your current substrate is really not suitable for a bearded dragon, you should be looking at a sand/soil mix (and clay content if possible).
Proper husbandry routines will mean it wont dry out, clay content will help it hold and retain both moisture and shape.

Wood chips are dangerous for beardies, and are the number one cause of impaction through ingestion of a foreign object with reptiles.
Shredded corn is not something i am personally familiar with, im hoping its like a hay or hemp like material, rather than corn husks which are not digestable and also known to be impaction risks due to how it doesnt breakdown in the gut and it can absorb water and swell causing a blockage.

The most important thing about substrates is choosing one thats suitable for the animal and also seeks to recreate something like their natural environment.
 

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Discussion Starter #12

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I put this together it is made of polystyrene and grouted then painted and coated with mod podge the bowl is 18" square and around 8" deep i plan to test mixes of eco earth soil and sand in my new viv to see if the mix dries out and how long it will go before it starts to turn dusty, my plan is to put it in the cool side with a 1,000 lumens LED above for light and no extra heat.
I tested the light over damp eco earth for 48 hours and it did not dry out at all and when i touched the light it was not even warm.


once i find a good mix i can do thw whole floor with around 5" deep if you have experience with this any help would be appreciated.
 

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Personally I prefer not to use bioactive with terrestrial based setups because I remain unsure about the effects of laying across a substrate consistently crawling with small microcleanups. When I tried this with some snakes I found they ended up spending an unusually large amount of time soaking in there water dishes which I have only ever seen prior with infestations of mites. I once had a spring tail run across my hand and it itched like hell, so for me, without really knowing whether it is annoying them I opt for plain substrates with animals that will spend 50% or more time on the surface. In the wild they will utilise a variety if terrains and surfaces for varying reasons, I can imagine it is possible with some well positioned higher elevations in cage decor but in my experience I still found mine spent more time comfortably laying across the surface.

That said mostly all my arboreal to semi arboreal setups are all bio. Since they do not spend any signficant amount of time on the surface due to the more important resources like heat, light and UV being mounted above I do not have this concern and thus far have seen no ill effect from using it.

Bioactive enclosures are wonderful when properly done and laid out but I personally feel there is a “lazy attitude developing to clean up in its name with little consideration to how animals may actually feel being crawled all over at night” I still have to go into my enclosures to replace water and refurnish, cleaning a bit if poop with a paper towel or shovel and spot cleaning, in my opinion is not really the end of the world and much more comfortable for a certain set of animals.

Admittedly I have never tried it with beardies but I have managed to gain just as much pleasure recreating a semi natural landscape which is both functional and aesthetically pleasing with plain simple substrates and artifical decor. : victory:
 

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that makes sense, could you give me some idea of what i should be looking at doing?
I was planning on using topsoil eco earth and play sand, what quantities of each do you recommend and should i water it or leave it dry.
as far as cleaning goes can it be put through a sieve or should it be changed at regular intervals?
 

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that makes sense, could you give me some idea of what i should be looking at doing?
I was planning on using topsoil eco earth and play sand, what quantities of each do you recommend and should i water it or leave it dry.
as far as cleaning goes can it be put through a sieve or should it be changed at regular intervals?
I have used mostly all common brands with good effect in differing ways but top soil and play sand mixtures are probably the most natural and functional. I use roughly a 6 to 4 part top soil to sand mix, you can play around adding a little or reducing a little depending on your aim :) You can use cocofiber but tbh it would probably be more cost effective to just buy a big bag of top soil from the garden center.
 

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I have used mostly all common brands with good effect in differing ways but top soil and play sand mixtures are probably the most natural and functional. I use roughly a 6 to 4 part top soil to sand mix, you can play around adding a little or reducing a little depending on your aim :) You can use cocofiber but tbh it would probably be more cost effective to just buy a big bag of top soil from the garden center.
how exactly do you measure? knowing i wouldnt be able to get it bang on i tried do focus on 50/50, using a large 4kg protein tub i added half and half of each several times and give it a mix before adding to my viv. still end result it mostly looks like alot more sand over top soil
 

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how exactly do you measure? knowing i wouldnt be able to get it bang on i tried do focus on 50/50, using a large 4kg protein tub i added half and half of each several times and give it a mix before adding to my viv. still end result it mostly looks like alot more sand over top soil

I think the last lot i used for mine was about 40% sand, 40% soil and 20% clay substrate.

Its a little looser than i would like, i think i would be tempted to reduce the sand and increase clay content next time round.
I try to aim for something that give a more or less firm base with a loose surface layer, but ive also switched between a "burrowing substrate" (heavy clay content) and "outback desert bedding" which seems less prone to clumping together.

I will likely go back to the mix of burrowing and outback, topsoil and sand that i used previously, give me a solid top layer with loose dusty top and it held its shape really well. I reduced clay content this time round because i had too much last time, and it literally formed solid blocks as it dried. So a little less of the burrowing (as that clumps a fair bit) but still a mix of the four overall.

Theres a heavy element of trial and error when using new products, im not 100% happy with it at the moment, but another change or two and i think i might get something im really happy with.
 

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thats what mine looks like it starting to do, though its still not completely dried out but starting to see the forming of lots of little brown balls... dont want to add anything else yet as its taken long enough for this to dry out, trial and error with lots of waiting time involved it seems
 

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thats what mine looks like it starting to do, though its still not completely dried out but starting to see the forming of lots of little brown balls... dont want to add anything else yet as its taken long enough for this to dry out, trial and error with lots of waiting time involved it seems

To me that would be a case of not pressing it down firmly enough, tiny little balls is fine, what you do want to avoid is large slab like sections which is what i got with too much clay base.

Its a balancing act, you dont want it turning to dust (not enough clay, too much sand) but you dont want a slab base either (too much clay and soil)
 
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