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Old 09-29-03, 11:13 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Mold as a substrate.....

.... is exactly what you end up with when you use Aspen shavings in a humid environment.

My quest for the perfect substrate for my humidity lovers continues. This weeks stab in the dark: Sphagnum moss. Right now, I have our Columbian Rainbows on damp sphagnum, as well as the blue beauties. So far, it's got the humidity up to the point where it is consensing - which is great for the rainbows. Not so great for the beauties, even though they still seem to be content.

So far, I've decided NO on newspaper, and for cost reasons alone, even with my "dry" (or Dry-ER) snakes, Aspen is just getting too expensive. Paper towels thus far have done very well for the Kings, Corns, and Balls. Seems to be ok for them.

I've been unable to locate Cypress mulch anywhere.

What I wanted to know is, what are your experiences with sphagnum? Does it clean easily enough? Have you had problems with it getting TOO humid? But most especially, how well do you find it resists mold?
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Old 09-29-03, 11:41 PM   #2 (permalink)
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...

I wouldn't use it. Not while they still have newspaper presses up and running.
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Old 09-29-03, 11:50 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Sphagnum moss is infamous for hosting a microscopic and highly toxic mold, Aspergillus. It's a leading cause of aspergillosis pneumonia in snakes and turtles.

I like the ground coconut husk substrates such as Bed a Beast or Eco Earth. They are heat processed in order to dehydrate the fibers and that effectively denatures the proteins in them so they cannot support much if any mold growth.
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Old 09-30-03, 12:18 AM   #4 (permalink)
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I use the coconut husk for my humidity loving reptiles with great results. I honeslty cannot say I've had a problem with it before.

Here's a tip though - buy it at a greenhouse. It will look the same (be in a 'brick) but be under a different name. Usually it costs 1/2 to 1/3 the price than if you bought it in a pet store.
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Old 09-30-03, 01:24 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Sphagnum moss is also acidic. We need to get more cypress though, we're out of it.
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Old 09-30-03, 12:22 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Well just out of curiousity..... I use out-door dirt for all of my varanids, it holds extreme amounts of humidity, and I dont have any native snakes near my immediate area.. Why not just use outdoor dirt for a snake, if you live in the city away from any wild snake populations?? I would assume it would be just as good for your snake as it is for my monitors... Everytime any moisture goes into it, the humidity stays at a perfect level... just a though.. Criticism welcomed as well, as iam trying to find a better substrate for all of my reptiles.... And of course, been toying with the idea of using outdoor soil.
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Old 09-30-03, 12:22 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Oh yeah, forgot to mention it doesnt mold at all.
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Old 09-30-03, 01:05 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Monitors tend to have more immune system protection from pathogens than snakes do, not surprising as they are more likely to eat carrion. Snakes are far more prone to respiratory infections from the bacteria and mold that soil harbors. Garters and a very few others do fine with soil but I wouldn't use it for most snakes.

Outdoors soil is exposed to wind, rain and sunlight that help to keep pathogens down to a reasonable population, once removed from those things it's tough to keep dirt clean enough for most captive herps.
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Old 09-30-03, 01:06 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally posted by V.hb
Oh yeah, forgot to mention it doesnt mold at all.
Put soil under a microscope and you might be shocked to see how much microscopic mold it harbors.
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Old 09-30-03, 02:22 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Hmm but my debate really is, is it any worse then the stuff pet stores sell and its free? I honestly think its better.. But iam still very reluctent to put any of my snakes on it..
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Old 09-30-03, 03:53 PM   #11 (permalink)
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Invictus, a couple things....
To start with Columbian rainbows,E c. maurus, don't require the extreme high humidity that Brazilians do. They are commonly kept on dry substrate with a large water bowl, similar to common boas.
For Brazilians, Bloods, and Anacondas I have used
ordinary cheaper than dirt "PEAT MOSS"...
It is simply Spaghnum, processed and ground up . It's fairly sterile and is compressed into large bags. Its dry when you get it, so there isn't much living in it.
You can get huge bags, from Canadian Tire, Walmart, or Garden Centres for only a few bucks.

Yes , the plant by nature is acidic, and that is why you want to use it, because the low pH inhibits mould and bacterial growth... You wont get any fuzzy stuff growing on peat!!

The only draw back is that you must keep it moist, because it is very dusty in the dry powder form.
I used to simply pour a small bucket of water in the cage when the substrate starts to get dried looking.
The snakes pat it down into a pretty solid mass, so the dust issue isn't critical unless you're removing the substrate or putting new in. The dust isn't toxic or anything, but it can clog nostrils, and make the keeper sneeze.

This substrate is also safe to feed on, and thats another big plus.

I've lost snakes on cyress mulch do to ingestion of the long sharp toopick like bits that come in it... So if you use Cypress, you better feed somewhere else, and as your collection grows, you'll find that a big pain in the butt... at least I did! I feed everything in the cage that houses it.. No time for musical chairs

Give Peat a try.... its dirt cheap,,, no actually its cheaper than potting soil.
Jeff has a good point though... Paper is free

I currently keep only dry species and have them all on Alpha or Beta chip made by Nepco . Not sure if you have a supplier out your way, but these are lab grade particulate substrates.
They can be spot cleaned, and I also feed on them..everything except small newborns...
http://www.nep-co.com/labindex.html
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Old 09-30-03, 03:56 PM   #12 (permalink)
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Peat, like sphaghnum, is a common culprit for aspergillosis pneumonia. Too high in protein so it supports the growth of all sorts of nasties.
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Old 09-30-03, 03:58 PM   #13 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally posted by V.hb
Hmm but my debate really is, is it any worse then the stuff pet stores sell and its free? I honestly think its better.. But iam still very reluctent to put any of my snakes on it..
It all depends how much vegetation and other organic material is in the soil. If you're digging stuff up from a dry, sandy area it's probably safer than the moss and wood-based stuff you get in petshops. If it has a high vegetation content it might be even more prone to pathogen growth than packaged substrates.
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Old 09-30-03, 07:23 PM   #14 (permalink)
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Rainbows do exelent on oak leaves litter, just try it and see!
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Old 09-30-03, 07:34 PM   #15 (permalink)
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I have to agree with Roy on every point. We've also had the neverending search for the best substrate (even tougher cos Katt's allergic to wood shavings) and eventually settled on peat moss too. We use it for everything from, dry snakes to humid snakes. Only setback to it is that you'd have to spray it down lightly every 2-3 days.
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