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Old 08-06-12, 02:44 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Dangerous pet products that should never be used for pets

I'm getting very frustrated with the amount of threads I see all over the internet about issues. It starts with something along the lines of "what's wrong with my pet"? and upon digging further, I see some of the most dreadful things they use in their enclosures for their reptiles. So, let's make a list of products marketed towards reptiles that should never actually be used. I'll start:

1: Calci-sand- This innocent enough looking bag of substrate may actually be the number one cause of non-health related impaction (meaning the animal is otherwise completely healthy). It even comes in fun colors! Why is it dangerous? First and foremost, Calci-sand is made of calcium. When an animal is low on calcium, it will be tempted to actually eat the substrate. Secondly, even if an animal is completely healthy, an animal will in some point of its life accidentally ingest its substrate. This can happen when it's hunting, eating greens, drinking, digging, or even just walking around. Calci-sand binds when it gets wet. Basically, it turns to glue in your animal's digestive tract. If your animal ingests this substrate, unless emergency medical care is sought soon after, it is likely that your animal will die an extremely painful death.

2: Heat rocks- Heat rocks are marketed as a great way to achieve a source for belly heat. Why are they dangerous? In the past, and even sometimes presently, they experience internal wiring shortages. When this occurs, instead of shutting off, the heat rocks will get so hot that they have actually been documented as causing third degree burns on reptiles.

3: Care fresh/ pet fresh/ recycled newspaper pellet bedding- These products are made for ease of cre when cleaning your pet's enclosures. They were made for animals that make large messes, such as rabbits, ferrets, hamsters, girbils, mice, and rats. Unfortunately, some of this bedding ends up in the reptile side of the pet hobby as well. To be honest, I'm not even a fan of using it for mammals. Why is is dangerous? Similarly to the first substrate, this type of bedding is ultra absorbant (exactly as it's advertised to be). If it's ingested, and it will be if you use it as a substrate with no barrier in between, it will actually absorb digestive fluids while in the digestive tract, causing impaction. This substrate also sucks humidity straight out of the environment, and can actually suck humidity out of your pet through skin contact if your pet is directly exposed to it for long enough periods.

4: Excavator Sand- Now this product is actually quite cool if used correctly. It's basically a molding sand. Get it wet, and you can build some very intricate landscapes. Why is it dangerous? Exactly the same reason that makes it so cool. If the slightest amount of water comes in contact with this sand, it will stick itself to whatever is wet. For example, if you use it for your bearded dragon and your bearded dragon walks through its water bowl and then walks onto the substrate, he will have a thick layer of Excavator Sand coating his feet and toes. There are documented incidents of this happening and the reptile involved will have open sores that can get infected, and in some cases lose limbs. This product should ONLY be used on the few desert reptiles that never need water bowls provided to them in their enclosures, such as uromastyx.

Alright folks, add your own dangerous pet product.
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Old 08-06-12, 02:58 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Re: Dangerous pet products that should never be used for pets

Expanding on heat rocks....Its funny that the further we (the collective reptile industry) got from what these animals get in the wild, the more we screwed things up. Not only is a heat rock hazardous, its completely redundant! If you are trying to provide a basking spot for a lizard or snake, or even a small tortoise, just use a REAL flat rock placed directly underneath the basking lights. This more naturally replicates what the reptile is going to experience in the wild, the rock or slate will heat up just as much, but there's no cords running into the enclosure, no concerns about a real rock overheating or short-circuiting.
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5.) Compact Fluorescent Bulbs for UVA/UVB (spiral-shaped, coil-shaped, etc.)
- These bulbs are basically an answer to hobbyists who wanted a UV bulb that would mount into an incandescent fixture. However, many reptile keepers (notably in the tortoise & bearded dragon communities) have claimed that these bulbs are too bright & intense, causing blindness in their animals. One thing to note is that these bulbs are designed to be mounted sideways in a horizontal fixture, NOT a standard dome fixture that points the bulb straight down. This could be a factor in some of the blindness cases, yet many keepers state that even when mounted correctly, the bulbs still cause blindness. Official studies on these bulbs are pending, but it is the general consensus of the herp community to avoid them. Stick to the traditional tube florescent bulbs or mercury vapor bulbs.
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Old 08-06-12, 03:05 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Re: Dangerous pet products that should never be used for pets

6.) Turtle Lagoons
- Often sold by Lee, these tiny, plastic turtle pools come in a variety of shapes (usually round or kidney-shaped) and are pretty inexpensive. Why are they dangerous? This shallow little lagoon is a horrible habitat for an aquatic turtle for a number of reasons. It is too shallow and too small to provide any adequate swimming space. There is no way to provide heating (the thing is made of cheap plastic!). There's also no way to provide shelter for a baby turtle. Yet because of its cheap price, the turtle lagoon lures many ignorant new turtle keepers into believing that this is a great home for a baby turtle. Genuine turtle hobbyists call these lagoons "baby turtle death traps" and the name is fitting; many hatchling red-eared sliders and related turtle species languish in these shallow little pools for months with no heat, gradually losing energy, getting respiratory infections, refusing food, etc...until they eventually perish.
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Old 08-06-12, 03:58 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Re: Dangerous pet products that should never be used for pets

Cedar bedding!!

Indirectly or directly.

Favored for it's "nice" aroma, people will house their feeder rodents in it.

Rich in toxic terpenes. (The same chemical turpentine is made from)
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Old 08-06-12, 06:54 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Re: Dangerous pet products that should never be used for pets

StudenttoReptile, do you mind if I repost those two on the other threads I have made? Wayne, I will re-word that post and post it as well. I can't believe I forgot cedar(and pine)!!
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Old 08-06-12, 07:15 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Re: Dangerous pet products that should never be used for pets

just be careful, I have seen people panic and try to avoid common lumber for cage building.

Kiln fired pine is safe, raw pine is not.
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Old 08-06-12, 07:22 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Re: Dangerous pet products that should never be used for pets

I'm speaking only on bedding there.
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Old 08-06-12, 07:40 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Re: Dangerous pet products that should never be used for pets

Garden mulch- Cypress "mulch" type reptile substrate is fine, however the word "mulch" is a bit misguiding. Often times keepers will see large bags of actual garden cypress mulch available for a much cheaper price at a garden or home improvement store and purchase it without looking at the ingredients. Why is it dangerous? Garden mulch often contains chemicals that are not wanted in your reptile's enclosure. Pesticides and fertilizers are not uncommon. Even organic mulch contains "organic content from inorganic materials" and animal waste.

Analog thermometers and hygrometers- Cheap and popular, this seems to be the standard for checking the environment. Why are they dangerous? Analog meters are known for being very inaccurate, as well as having the tendancy to get "stuck" on a specific reading. Knowing the exact temperatures and humidity levels is essential to keeping reptiles. If your instruments aren't reading properly, it's very possible to over or underheat your reptile, or dry them out or give them too much humidity.
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Old 08-06-12, 07:49 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Re: Dangerous pet products that should never be used for pets

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Originally Posted by BarelyBreathing View Post
StudenttoReptile, do you mind if I repost those two on the other threads I have made? Wayne, I will re-word that post and post it as well. I can't believe I forgot cedar(and pine)!!
That's fine.
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Old 08-06-12, 07:49 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Re: Dangerous pet products that should never be used for pets

Glass Aquariums
They don't hold any humidity or temperature, they can be escaped easily unless the proper clips are purchased.
Also cleaning is a problem because of the weight of the glass and they are very fragile. Also they offer almost no security for the reptile.
They are mad for fish not reptiles, Don't use them, either buy a tub or make a custom enclosure.
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Old 08-06-12, 07:49 PM   #11 (permalink)
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Re: Dangerous pet products that should never be used for pets

Heat Caves- same problem as heat rocks
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Old 08-06-12, 07:50 PM   #12 (permalink)
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Re: Dangerous pet products that should never be used for pets

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Analog thermometers and hygrometers- Cheap and popular, this seems to be the standard for checking the environment. Why are they dangerous? Analog meters are known for being very inaccurate, as well as having the tendancy to get "stuck" on a specific reading. Knowing the exact temperatures and humidity levels is essential to keeping reptiles. If your instruments aren't reading properly, it's very possible to over or underheat your reptile, or dry them out or give them too much humidity.
Funny...I actually wrote a blog about this one back in May: Have Reptiles? Get a Temperature Gun! Student of the Reptile
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Old 08-06-12, 07:51 PM   #13 (permalink)
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Re: Dangerous pet products that should never be used for pets

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Glass Aquariums
They don't hold any humidity or temperature, they can be escaped easily unless the proper clips are purchased.
Also cleaning is a problem because of the weight of the glass and they are very fragile. Also they offer almost no security for the reptile.
They are mad for fish not reptiles, Don't use them, either buy a tub or make a custom enclosure.
Right on, and normally they are what new owners use to house their animals in, without knowing the need for temps/humidity
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Old 08-06-12, 07:52 PM   #14 (permalink)
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Re: Dangerous pet products that should never be used for pets

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Heat Caves- same problem as heat rocks
I wouldn't even look at one...
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Old 08-06-12, 07:55 PM   #15 (permalink)
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Re: Dangerous pet products that should never be used for pets

I wouldn't categorize glass tanks as "dangerous products" per say. They're just not as suited for some herp species as others. Kinda like you wouldn't use a humidifier on a bearded dragon or a 10.0 UVB bulb on an amphibian, or use sand for frogs or damp moss for Uromastyx, etc. None of those products are "bad;" they just have their specific functions for specific species.

I believe this thread is devoted to products that are just universally bad or hazardous across the board for any or all herps.
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