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Old 03-15-05, 08:16 PM   #1 (permalink)
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can i use "wild" wood in my cages?

I live out in the sticks (country) and there are lots of old dead oak trees here that Im really tempted to take a piece and ut it in with one of my snakes cages. Is there a way to clean the wood so its safe 2 use, all the barks gone so it would be perfect.

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Old 03-15-05, 08:27 PM   #2 (permalink)
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maybe you could try freezing it - that would kill any bacteria that may be on it.
i'm not sure though, hopefully someone has a definitive answer.
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Old 03-15-05, 08:30 PM   #3 (permalink)
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I use wild wood.. but I wash and then bake them in the oven for 3 hours before I use them.

If you do the same.. be careful not to start a fire

I usually have the oven set to 350.
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Old 03-15-05, 09:25 PM   #4 (permalink)
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I just rinse and put it in mine
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Old 03-16-05, 09:21 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Rinsing absolutely will not cut it.

I'd soak it in bleach water for 3 hours, then in SALT water (use sea salt if you can get it, because it has no iodine) for 3 hours. The salt will dilute the chlorine in the bleach.

If you want to maintain 100% of the color, soak it, freeze it for a day, then bake it. What the freezer doesn't kill, the baking will. Soaking and freezing it ahead of time also makes sure that the wood is moist enough to not ignite in the oven.

If you want to smooth it out, you'll have to get it sandblasted, or spend a good deal of time with a power sander. I'd also recommend sealing it with polyeurethane if the enclosure will have moisture - wood can grow mold like a sonofabitch.
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Old 03-16-05, 09:40 AM   #6 (permalink)
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Ken you are so right. You should always soak things in a bleach water solution. (this also works on cages that might have housed sick animals before and it's the only thing that will kill parvo ...a fatal puppy illness) I never thought of the salt soaking after to get some on the bleach out though...Thanks Ken. I'll have to try that one.
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Old 03-16-05, 09:42 AM   #7 (permalink)
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Ok lets get real here.
You think they do anything special for the wood you get in the store? They wash it. Then it sits in a warehouse just to be contaminated again by other stuff.
Depending how big the wood is, just bleach it, then rinse in hot or boiling water. Freezing will not do anything, since what ever is living in the wood during the summer does usually survive the winter.
I bleach then put in the shower on just hot water for about 10-15 min. Never had a problem and been doing it that way for years.
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Old 03-16-05, 10:13 AM   #8 (permalink)
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Reading about what you all do to deparasitize wild caught wood makes me want to only use CB branches

Like Walter said, let's get real.

Bugs will be easily seen, they'll be under the bark or leave holes and tunnels. A solid branch or log with no holes or decay will be solid wood through and through, no need to kill off cooties inside, it's wood. Anything that can live inside this solid wood would be bacteria, virus and the like - and just plain rinsing with hot water, boiling for a few hours or freezing in a home freezer isn't going to kill them off - they survived all winter in the wild, and in Canada it's guaranteed colder out there for longer during the winter than a few days in the typical freezer. How long does it take to boil a chunk of wood to get the inside temperature hot enough to kill off parasites and germs?

Get a good solid log or branch, no bug tunnels, no rot nor decay, a nice solid chunk. If you want the bark left on, then rinse off the outside dirt, spider webs, cocoons etc. As long as the bark is firmly attached, it's okay to use, if it's loose there could be bugs hiding behind it, so remove the bugs or bark or get another piece.

I've used wild caught branches, logs and bark for at least a decade, and never had a problem. I make sure it's in good condition, then just scrape and rinse all the crud off. Once it's dry, I use it.
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Old 03-16-05, 11:02 AM   #9 (permalink)
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LOL WC vs CB branches.. I LOVE IT
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Old 03-16-05, 01:21 PM   #10 (permalink)
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thanks Walter and Dragon

certainly we could assume that a person would have the common sense to not use a piece of living wood or a piece of wood that is all covered in mud down by the river

most of it is dry driftwood, which looks better anyways...give it a rinse and watch the mud and paranoia go down the drain

I believe your decade of experience speaks more than heresay about the dangers of wild caught wood

On a non-paranoid side note, bleaching the wood makes it a little brighter and better looking in my opinion, but I'd never bleach to "sanitize" it
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Old 03-16-05, 01:27 PM   #11 (permalink)
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I'd be afraid of the chemical residue left from the bleach...nasty s***. Where I live there are nice branches everywhere---the best are the ones that have no bark what-so-ever.....very clean, dry and solid. My snakies love to climb on them. "WC" branches are the best. lol
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Old 03-16-05, 01:59 PM   #12 (permalink)
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The "chemical residue" you speak of is chlorine... which is solved by soaking it in salt water.

The risk of using wildwood is not the obvious parasites and ticks, it's the microbial life that exists on it. If you want to take your chances by just rinsing it, go ahead. I'd never do that.
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Old 03-16-05, 02:07 PM   #13 (permalink)
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Chlorine is actually very unstable, it will self-destruct if you leave it alone. Just airing out the branch for a day will get rid of the residual chlorine, or you can neutralize it immediately with vinegar. Soaking in plain water will work too. If salt water solves the chlorine residue, then would there be any need to dechlorinate water for marine tanks?
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Old 03-16-05, 03:49 PM   #14 (permalink)
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DOH! All this time I've been saying to use salt water, and what I was really supposed to be suggesting was vinegar. I know there is a reason to use salt water after bleaching though.. it was told to me by a science teacher. But damned if I can remember what that reason is.

As soon as you mentioned dechlorinating marine tanks, I got to thinking back to my geology classes... and remembered that salt, also called Halite in its rock form, is NaCl. In other words, the salt already HAS chlorine. Maybe the reason to use saltwater instead of normal water is that it stabilizes the chlorine levels in the surface of what you're cleaning?? Damnit, I can't remember now.

I have some reading to do and a science teacher to contact.
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Old 03-16-05, 04:33 PM   #15 (permalink)
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Wow....such over cautious soles some of you are..
I use old elm branches, just the way I find them.... I don't wash them, bleach them or treat them in any way at all. I don't do a damn thing to them... except cut them so they fit the cage. I've been doing this for years, and I have never had any problems. I might add that for over 15 years I kept about 300 breeding stock on Western bark that is Redwood and Sequoia nuggets, and that stuff is kept outside at garden centres and gets all kind of weird flies and stuff in it.... I never washed it either, as it would have been impracticle. And yes I got a few flies, which is more of a human annoyance than it is a worry to the animals welfare.
There are likely no detrimental pathogens on our dead forest stock that would effect the mostly tropical animals we keep....The chances of it are so low it makes trying to sanitize it a waste of time...
The same goes for bark and rocks...
I gather bark all the time for my Rosies. I like it better than plastic saucers because its long and alows better thermal regulation underneath, than a round hide.
Gathering bark gives the bride and I an excuse for exercise in the park. I never wash it. I have a thick paint brush I use simply to knock the dusty stuff off.. and I will occasionally use a dremel tool with cutting disc to chop it to size but I never clean it.
Gag, washing, baking, showering, bleaching.... who needs the extra work...
So I get the odd little centipede or pill bug in my trays...Its no big deal, they either find their way out or perish, certainly wont hurt the herps.
And PS
I don't really clean cages either . I use particulate substrates (Beta and Alpha chip)and spot clean by removing clumps of feces and sheds only. I generally replace all the substrate only once a year, after breeding season.
I use the deli container Hollister method for most of my water bowls. ie disposable. It's not exactly environmentally friendly, but it saves alot of time if you have a large collection.
I still use some Dollarama ramekin bowls for baby snakes... and I must say, washing them is a huge pain... I'll be looking to replace that method some small condiment cups this season, so they will be disposable as well... Simon and others with high numbers of small snakes are using this technique rather than bowls, simply as a time saver.
My years of spending all weekend cleaning cages, ornaments and water bowls are long gone, but I've been there.
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