Best Substrate For Russian Tortoise in 2021

Best Substrate For Russian Tortoise

The preference of the best substrate for Russian tortoise is one of the most important factors in owning and growing a desert shell pet.

After all, much of their time would be spent in and near it.

Some animals have burst into it to avoid hot weather or to relax.

Despite or maybe because of this significant factor, many people cannot seem to agree on which is the most suitable type they should use.

There is a lot of discussion about the variety of bedding substrate.

Instead, we will investigate the characteristics that make a substratum good or bad. From that, we will give our own recommendations.

To make your pet comfortable and safe, we suggest you buy a particular product from a trustworthy brand.

We also address the pros and cons of the following types below.

This article is what you need to know about tortoise bedding substrate, especially for desert ones like the Russian tortoise.

Therefore, we hope you can get the right product.

The Top-Rated Substrate For Russian Tortoise (Recommendations)

#1. REPTILE SCIENCES TERRARIUM SAND NATURAL SEDONA – TOP PICK

#2. ZILLA GROUND ENGLISH WALNUT SHELLS DESERT BLEND – EXOTIC CHOICE

#3. ZILLA REPTILE BEDDING ALFALFA SUBSTRATE – SAFE OPTION

#4. ZOO MED ECO EARTH COMPRESSED COCONUT FIBER SUBSTRATE 

#5. ZOO MED EXCAVATOR CLAY BURROWING SUBSTRATE

#6. PURPLE STAR 1N NATURAL COCONUT FIBER SUBSTRATE MAT  

#7. ZILLA JUNGLE MIX

#8. CARIB SEA REPTILES CALCIUM SUBSTRATE SAND

#9. FLUKER LABS REPTA BARK ALL NATURAL BEDDING 


Related:

What Do You Need To Know About The Best Substrate For Russian Tortoise?

Substrate For Russian Tortoise

So what is the perfect substratum? To sum up, it must have the following characteristics: Easy to dig in, non-toxic, and stable for your animal to walk on smooth and safe.

The right substrate supports a lot, not just with the animal’s activities, but also with their behavior.

Reptiles and tortoises typically spend a great deal of time in the wild, particularly on the inside or under the litter of leaves.

So they interpret the world differently from bigger species.

Tortoises are exposed constantly to what we call microclimates in which a few inches outside the ground vary tremendously in their atmosphere, particularly in the humidity and the temperature.

For example, you can feel warm when the sun is up and rain lately.

To a tortoise though, the ground will be wet, moist, and warm in its immediate environment.

Another example is the desert species.

In our opinion, it may be warm and dry there, but it is also cool and mildly damp within burrows.

The kind of microclimate they encounter in their native habitats can be a good substratum for them.

1. What Can Be The Qualities Of The Best Substrate For Russian Tortoise?

As we all know, choosing the right bedding is not an easy task. Thus, we listed some characteristics you should understand:

Russian Tortoise Substrate Moisture

Humidity Retention:

To grow well, reptiles require lots of moisture.

They drink water while still absorbing humidity from their skin in the ambient air and from the substrate.

This is why bedding is essential to maintain humidity for long periods.

Improved preservation of moisture also improves moisture, which tortoises, especially hatchlings, need a lot to prevent pyramiding healthily.

Conversely, if the substrate is damp for too long, it can also be a concern.

Such forest species can be extremely moist, but Russian ones are the dry-loving species, they may have problems with overly high humidity.

Too much moisture in the substratum will develop bacteria and other dangerous microorganisms.

They will lead to issues such as shell redness, respiratory infection, and other bad diseases.

The ground that does not properly drain can often create molds that challenge the owner.

Good substrate product should hold more moisture but just dries after a couple of hours.

It should also be able to drain rightly, ensuring that there are no water puddles.

Russian Tortoise Substrate

Can Be Dug In:

Tortoises feel joyful when digging into the bedding.

As such, when the animals dig into them, a good substrate is able to yield enough, but also sufficiently structural stability, so that it will not crumble after all.

Do Not Lead To Impaction:

Do Russian Tortoises Substrate

Impaction occurs when a particular object approaches the digestive tract of your pet, does not break down or get out.

This entity blocks the gastrointestinal tract which allows it to break up later.

A good substratum should be safe to get into the intestines.

Some fiber products, which are not dirt, must be checked carefully so they will be digested safely by the animal.

Durable:

Coarse materials with large bits can be brittle, making it difficult for your reptile to walk on, especially for smaller ones or hatchlings.

Finer materials can be tightened, but if it is too fine, the legs may actually sink down which will keep the tortoise from moving entirely differently.

Fine products can also be small enough for the pet to eat and swallow, making them at no risk of impaction.

Non-Toxic:

Best Substrate For Tortoise Table

It might not always be clear to us what could be harmful to the pets.

For starters, you can use chippings for mulch or wood as substrate materials, as they are excellent for moisture retention.

However, some forms of wood product resin which, while being virtually harmless to us, can also be poisonous to the tortoises.

Besides, the soil is a common choice for many people. But it can include fertilizers and other chemicals that will damage your pet.

2. What Is The Best Substrate For Russian Tortoise?

Best Substrate For Outdoor Tortoise Enclosure

Since the Russian tortoise is a desert species, get used to dry environments, hot weather and do not require too much humidity.

Providing a good substrate for them will prevent shell rot and supports healthy growth.

It is necessary for the tortoises to burrow and hide in the substrate to prevent dehydration.

The control and equilibrium of temperatures are both essential aspects.

Therefore, provide a substrate that encourages their burrowing and hibernation.

Best Russian Tortoise Substrate

(Credit: Thecrittercove)

Although there is a lot of kinds of substrate for tortoises available on the market today, the below 5 materials are the most common used:

Soil

Soil is the most popular and cheapest option that you can find everywhere.

Basically, it has good structural integrity and can be mixed with other bedding materials easily.

Nevertheless, it can become very messy if it gets too wet.

Coconut fiber

It is extracted from the coconut husk.

It breaks down the odor as well as waste, also has no bad affection for the environment.

However, it can get pushed around easily because of its lightweight.

Plus, some species get allergic to this material.

Aspen shavings and mosses

Aspen shavings have no odor and no aromatic oils.

Thus, it is the perfect substrate material for reptiles with sensitive breathing systems.

Aspen shavings are usually mixed with mosses, create good moisture-retaining bedding.

Moreover, it is editable and digestible.

Wood chips or mulch

When it comes to absorbing odors, wood chips are also an ideal choice.

This is preferable for adult ones since the younger may have trouble walking on it.

You can also reuse this substrate many times just by washing it with boiling water and let it dry thoroughly.

Nutshells

Though there is controversy about using ground nutshells as bedding, after testing and asking experts, it is still okay.

Just make sure that you buy ground nutshells from reliable brands and check the information labels carefully.

It is better to blend some of the substrate materials. You can buy such materials from a store, supplier or supermarket.

Remember to buy products from reliable brands for the best quality.

You still can find them in nature, but please be careful if you choose to use this type.

It is extremely likely that the materials would be contagious with animal excrement, poisons, toxins, and waste.

If you want to use raw natural substrate, thoroughly wash it carefully.

Best Substrate For Baby Tortoise

Best Substrate For Russian Tortoise Shortlist (Updated List) 

Product imagesProduct namesEditor's ratingPrice
REPTILE SCIENCES TERRARIUM SAND NATURAL SEDONA4.6Check
Price
ZILLA GROUND ENGLISH WALNUT SHELLS DESERT BLEND4.7Check
Price
ZILLA REPTILE BEDDING ALFALFA SUBSTRATE4.5Check
Price
ZOO MED ECO EARTH COMPRESSED COCONUT FIBER SUBSTRATE4.8Check
Price
ZOO MED EXCAVATOR CLAY BURROWING SUBSTRATE4.4Check
Price
PURPLE STAR 1N NATURAL COCONUT FIBER SUBSTRATE MAT4.4Check
Price
ZILLA JUNGLE MIX4.7Check
Price
CARIB SEA REPTILES CALCIUM SUBSTRATE SAND4.3Check
Price
FLUKER LABS REPTA BARK ALL NATURAL BEDDING4.6Check
Price

*Ratings are from Amazon at the time of publication and can change

The Best Substrate For Russian Tortoise

Best Substrate For a Russian Tortoise

#1. REPTILE SCIENCES TERRARIUM SAND NATURAL SEDONA – TOP PICK

See Latest Price.

  • Type: Calcium carbonate

 More than just a pro calcium sand product, another reason why we love the Reptile Sciences Terrarium Sand is its affordable price.

With fairly large grains with blunt edges, the chance of getting internal or external impaction is significantly reduced.

Your reptile pet will definitely feel in their home desert thanks to its incredible heat conductivity.

This product is made 100% from calcium carbonate.

Using calcium carbonate as bedding is a natural way for pets to absorb calcium.

It also has natural purifying properties to reduce pollution and bacteria’s harmful effects.

This sand can adhere to clumps of waste that can be washed easily.

 Pros:

  • Digestible
  • Rich source of calcium, strontium, potassium, and magnesium
  • Not contain silica and phosphate
  • Natural odor neutralizer

Cons:

  • Stick to the reptile’s tongue

#2. ZILLA GROUND ENGLISH WALNUT SHELLS DESERT BLEND – EXOTIC CHOICE

See Latest Price

  • Type: Ground walnut shells

Zilla Ground English Walnut Shells Desert Blend is the perfect choice for a dry and pleasing natural desert climate.

The 100% natural shells are the best substrate for desert tortoises such as the Russian or Sonoran species, giving them soft and warm bedding to live on.

But it can work well with other kinds of reptiles, too.

Many consumers say their pets love to dig around and burrow in this substrate because it packs well and does not irritate their skin.

Moreover, the ground walnut shell is much lighter and softer than sand, making your tortoise more comfortable.

Thus, you do not have to think about scratching inside the glass cage.

One advantage that makes this our top pick is its environmental benefit and ease to clean up.

The content can be composted as yard waste, which is eco friendly as well.

It might not be like a real desert layer in your tank but still looks amazing.

Pros:

  • Ideal for desert reptiles
  • Does not scratch glass like sand
  • Offers strong heat conduction
  • Encourages digging and burrowing behaviors

Cons:

  • Not safe if the pet accidentally eat the substrate
  • Has tiny bugs in among the shells
  • Can be hazardous

#3. ZILLA REPTILE BEDDING ALFALFA SUBSTRATE – SAFE OPTION

See Latest Price

  • Type: Alfalfa based

Zilla Reptile Alfalfa Substrate is one of the high-quality products recently.

This product is readily digestible, providing your Russian tortoises’ healthy bedding.

It also suits a lot of desert reptiles.

Thanks to the bacteriostatic in it, you can be sure your pet stays healthy as the bacteria growth is kept to a minimum.

Pros:

  • Not harmful when being eaten
  • Ultra absorbent
  • Digestible
  • Reduces germs and bacteria

Cons:

  • Uncomfortable smell to some people
  • Stinky and dusty
  • Easy to grow mold

#4. ZOO MED ECO EARTH COMPRESSED COCONUT FIBER SUBSTRATE 

See Latest Price

  • Type: Coconut fiber

This may be the most eco-friendly product on our list.

The Zoo Med Eco Earth Coconut Fiber Substrate is very versatile since it is ideal for tropical as well as desert species.

No matter that your animal is a desert one needs to use the bricks dry, or tropical species need the moist bedding, the Zoo Med product can cover it all.

The compressed coconut fiber can fill up to 8 liters terrarium.

Furthermore, this product retains disgusting smells and additional moisture and can be quickly composted or recycled as just yard waste.

Pros:

  • Suitable for tropical species
  • Naturally absorbs and breaks down odor
  • 100% environmentally friendly
  • Cost-effective

Cons:

  • Holds too much humid, takes a long time to dry out
  • Messy

#5. ZOO MED EXCAVATOR CLAY BURROWING SUBSTRATE

See Latest Price

  • Type: Clay

Zoo Med Excavator Clay Burrowing Substrate is a dream come true among the best substrate for Russian tortoise products so far, who likes to digging and building his hidden tunnels underground.

What is outstanding about this product is its fantastic ability to keeps its shape, therefore, the tunnels of your pet will not collapse easily.

Furthermore, this substrate is 100% pure and free of chemicals or artificial colors.

Before using them, it must be combined with water to harden quickly.

You do not have to worry about what if the tortoise eats it because when the clay gets solid, he can not swallow it.

Thus, it reduces the chances of getting impaction or ingestion.

Pros:

  • Holds its shape for your pet’s underground tunnel, encourages the digging and burrowing behavior
  • No dyes or chemicals

Cons:

  • Hard to clean
  • Dry out fast when being used under the heat lamp

#6. PURPLE STAR 1N NATURAL COCONUT FIBER SUBSTRATE MAT  

See Latest Price

  • Type: Coconut fiber

Purple Star said that this product is processed with biodegradable enzymes for smell elimination.

It is both absorbent and non-abrasive.

A significant benefit of using coconut husk mat as bedding is that it is capable of absorbing both odor and moisture, make it less troublesome if you do not like the bad smells.

It is easy to store, too. If your tortoise accidentally swallows some fibers, that is okay and does not cause any harmful impaction.

However, since this substrate is compressed as a mat, your tortoise can not dig into it, just can move above.

And when it is wet, it becomes spongey, which is uncomfortable.

Pros:

  • Durable
  • Safe to use
  • Comfortable and clean bedding
  • Easy to wash

Cons:

  • Can not dig into
  • Bad moisture retention
  • Need to replace frequently

#7. ZILLA JUNGLE MIX

See Latest Price

  • Type: Sphagnum moss and fir shavings

Zilla Jungle Mix Substrate is made of two main materials are sphagnum moss and fir shavings, making it soft and stable enough for multi-purposes, from digging to egg-laying.

The manufacturer said that it can be fill up to 2 inches in depth to encourage the burrowing behavior of reptiles.

This product holds moisture effective, which is both good and bad sides to it.

For desert animals who get used to dry substrate, it can be problematic.

But the humidity concern can be controlled easily.

Furthermore, its soft texture and loamy scent help to remove bad odor effectively.

Pros:

  • Moisture absorbing and retaining
  • 100% natural
  • Suitable for digging, breeding and egg incubation

Cons:

  • High moisture retaining causes lots of mites
  • Too much water causes muddy
  • Pricey

#8. CARIB SEA REPTILES CALCIUM SUBSTRATE SAND

See Latest Price

  • Type: Aragonite

Carib Sea Reptiles is one of the finest and safest sand substrates we could find for desert tortoises like Russian species.

It made from 100% aragonite, also known as the most soluble form of calcium carbonate, which ensures that the sand is edible and digestible without giving the animal constipation.

Moreover, it comes in a stunning desert rose hue, enriched with magnesium and strontium.

Pros:

  • Edible and digestible
  • Natural spherical grains will not scratch your animals inside or outside
  • Free of silica or phosphates
  • Has strontium and magnesium

Cons:

  • Consume too much calcium is not good for shell reptiles
  • Dusty
  • Can get into the eyes, nose, trachea, and lungs

#9. FLUKER LABS REPTA BARK ALL NATURAL BEDDING 

See Latest Price

  • Type: Orchid bark

Fluker Labs Repta Bark Bedding substratum is composed of natural coconut hulls.

The bark is a popular choice for tortoises as it is soft on the limbs and allows them space to burrow.

This product is also made for a high moisture environment, which is an ideal tortoise substrate for the ones that require around 50 to 60% moisture.

Pros:

  • All-natural material
  • Absorbs water and prevents excessive moisture
  • Bigger pieces reduce the chance of ingestion
  • Less dust

Cons:

  • Loaded with mites
  • Molds in high humidity
  • Dirty if it is too damp
  • May kill cleaner bugs

Frequently Asked Questions About Choosing The Best Substrate For Russian Tortoise

Best Substrate For Tortoise Enclosure

1. Is Substrate Compulsory?

A substratum that lines the base of the tank. It is still okay to leave the bottom of the terrarium bare, but to us, it does not make a very good living environment, at least about the appearance aspect.

Not only making your tank more beautiful but having a substrate also gives a place for live plants, making your pet happier and more comfortable at home.

2. How To Clean My Substrate?

Best Substrate For Baby Russian Tortoise

Every day, you should soak your pet and let him poop it out there. So he will not create waste in his cage.

By this, you can stir the substrate up every few weeks.

Remember to remove the leftover food and water bowls every day.

We recommend you replace the whole substrate every couple of months.

3. What Can I Put Into My Russian Tortoise Enclosure?

Tortoises in general and Russian ones in particular, like playing with the logs, rocks, bath spots, humid hides, and dirt mounds.

You can consider enhancing toys and activities, as well as providing clean and safe shelters for your pet.

Check out this video on how to set up an enclosure: (21) Setting up a Russian Tortoise Enclosure – YouTube

4. I Have A Lot Of Sawdust At Home, Can I Use It As A Natural Bedding?

No, we not recommend you to use it.

Sawdust is lightweight and fluffy, therefore it can be absorbed easily by breathing.

This causes nose blocking, pulmonary damage and perhaps sinus treatment that is not always effective.

It can lead to death if not satisfactorily removed.

5. How Deep Should Russian Tortoise Substrate Be?

If you are having from 1 to 6 tortoises, the enclosure should be at least 6 to 10 feet and must be safe enough.

If possible, the walls should be at least 8 to 10 inches underground for them to dig tunnels.

Best Substrate For Desert Tortoise

Conclusion

Although we had given a lot of information, we know that finding a suitable substrate is not always an easy task for both newbies or experts.

Any material you choose should be good enough, and you can also combine two or more materials to fit your needs, as long as they fulfill the specifications.

Taking all of the products into account, we think REPTILE SCIENCES TERRARIUM SAND NATURAL SEDONA is a decent choice.

It can satisfy all the basic needs of a desert reptile as good heat and moisture ventilation feature. ZOO MED EXCAVATOR CLAY BURROWING SUBSTRATE is also a good option to try.

Its amazing characteristic of encouraging tortoises to burrow as in their natural habitat will definitely give your pet the most realistic experience.

To get the best substrate for Russian tortoise, our best suggestion is to do the investigation carefully and trying different ones. Finally, at least for you and your pet, you can end up with the right product of your own.

Further Reading:

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.


*