Ground Turtle Terrarium

Ground Turtle Terrarium

Why turtle ground

In nature, many types of land turtles spend a lot of time burrowing in holes in the ground. So they hibernate, sleep in the summer in the heat and just spend the night. Keeping turtles without soil leads to stress, lumpiness of the shell, erasure of claws, etc. Therefore, the site strongly recommends that you keep a land turtle on the ground, and not on a grass rug, paper, or newspaper.

Exceptions: quarantine or exhibition.

For quarantine you can use: paper towels, absorbent diapers, white paper.

At exhibitions, you can use a green rubberized rug that imitates grass.

Terrarium soil, what should it be?

Soil for turtles should be safe, non-dusty, non-toxic, non-irritating to the mucous membranes, absorbent and as safe as possible, even if it is eaten, at least it must pass through the digestive system and exit completely with calluses.
It is desirable that it be a dense, heavy, well-fitting digging ground when digging in. When digging, the turtle should receive a response load when digging, maintaining muscle tone and claw shape. The soil should tightly cover the turtle, thereby helping the shell grow more evenly and reduce (and in some places it is desirable to make up for) the loss of fluid.

The soil should correspond to the habitats of the turtles. There is no definite answer about the ideal soil. in different countries, experts advise different types of soils.

Soils can be either “digestible” or “digestible”:

  • "Digestible". soil that can be digested and decomposed in the intestines. One of these soils is moss.
  • "Indigestible" is indigestible soil. There are also nuances here: whether or not such soil can safely pass through the intestinal tract of the turtle, subsequently being removed from the body with feces.
    If soil particles cannot pass through the intestinal tract, they can form congestion in the intestine, which, in turn, will block the passage of food masses further down the digestive tract.
    Congestion in the intestines can stop the passage of feces and their complete elimination, which in frequent cases leads to the death of the turtle.
    In addition, such a soil can injure the walls of the intestine, causing sepsis or inflammation.
    All woody soils (wood chips, bark, sawdust.), Sand, earth, shell rock, sandy loam. are indigestible soils, and the choice of a specific one should be taken very seriously.
    Some substrates that are suitable for one species are not always good for another. You need to know the natural conditions in which the species of turtle that you contain lives!
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Definitely cannot be used to keep turtles : sharp stone crumb, stones with sharp corners, very fine sand, newspapers, expanded clay, absorbent cat litter, polystyrene foam, straw.

For steppe turtles we recommend the following types of soil:

soft hay (in one of the zones), shell rock (for advanced), large pebbles (feeding zone), land (for advanced), sand (for advanced), sandy loam or loamy sand (sold from Namiba Terra)

For tropical turtles, we recommend the following types of soil:

large bark, moss, leaf litter, land (for advanced)

Ground preparation and cleaning

Before putting soil into the terrarium, it is very advisable to hold it in hot water or boil it (calcine the stones in the oven). This is necessary to get rid of insects and parasites that may be in the ground.
You can plant oats or other plants that are useful to land turtles. True, this step has several “buts”. turtles can tear up the whole earth, dig them up and make a mess, without showing any interest in seedlings (if they have time to appear). In addition, it is necessary to carefully monitor the level of humidity (it should not exceed the permissible level), and also need to regularly check if there is any living creature in the ground.

If the soil is soft (not stones), then its thickness should be at least 4-6 cm, it should completely cover the turtle when burying.

Ground Turtle Terrarium

Soil can be replaced both partially and completely as it becomes dirty. Someone changes the soil once a month, someone once every six months (better at least).

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Soil and food

If turtles eat soil (sawdust, wood chips), then the tortoise is not enough fiber. It is necessary to replace the soil with edible. soft hay. If a land tortoise tries to eat stones, a shell rock, it most likely lacks calcium. Replace the soil with a larger one, and in the terrair put cuttlefish bone (sepia), or a block of fodder chalk.

If you are afraid that the turtle might accidentally swallow the soil with food, then you can either make a separate feed zone with large stones, or lay ceramic tile on the ground and put a bowl of food on it.

Wet chamber

A wet chamber is necessary for all land turtles, which are prone to pyramidality (especially Mediterranean, star-shaped, panther, spurred). In nature, turtles bury themselves in moist soil, which helps to keep the shell even, the same principle must be repeated in the terrarium.

If the terrarium is open and does not hold moisture in it, then a plastic box with a roof with a small hole should be put in it. only for entry-exit turtles. Inside there should be a layer of moist soil in which the turtle can completely bury with the shell. In a terrarium that is closed on top, you can put a low container with wet soil, and water the soil only in this container. Around the container or box you can put the usual terrarium soil for turtles.
It is important to separate the dry substrate from the wet one to prevent the growth of mold or fungi on a dry substrate.
Naturally, it is necessary to provide the turtle: with water, heat, ultraviolet and a well-balanced diet.
Wet soil should be checked regularly for humidity and replaced with fresh if necessary.

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Usually for a wet chamber, swamp (peat) moss. sphagnum is used, as a substrate it retains moisture well. It has a property that inhibits the growth of mold and fungi. In addition, it is not toxic in contact with turtles and does not affect the intestines if accidentally consumed. It is also readily available and relatively inexpensive.

Pros of sphagnum:
1. Breathability, allowing you to maintain the earthen substrate in a wet state and, at the same time, make it extremely light.
2. Hygroscopicity. According to this indicator, sphagnum is the absolute leader. One part of its volume can absorb more than twenty parts of moisture! Even cotton is not capable of this. At the same time, hydration occurs evenly, and moisture is also transferred uniformly and metered into the substrate. As a result, the earth mixture containing it will always be wet, but not waterlogged.
3. The disinfecting, antibacterial properties of sphagnum are so high that they found application even in medicine! The antibiotics, triterpine compounds and many other various “usefulnesses” contained in moss sphagnum protect the roots of indoor plants from decay and other troubles.)

Also, as soil in a wet chamber, you can use garden soil, sand, sandy loam.