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peat moss steralization

Discussion in 'Tarantula Questions & Discussions' started by pauls, Jan 10, 2003.

  1. pauls

    pauls Arachnopeon

    I've heard of several ways to steralize peat moss before use as a substrate. What's the best way? Microwaving seems easiest...but how long do you nuke it for? Should I mix it with my current substrate or use just the moss? I currently have that corky vermaculite stuff.

  2. Steve Nunn

    Steve Nunn Arachnoprince Old Timer

    Hi Paul,
    I've posted this before but it's something every keeper should know, so I'm posting it again (sorry moderators ;) )

    There is absolutely NO need to cook/sterilize your substrate. Don't believe me?? Here's a post from Rick West on my tarantula forum:

    In all my 38 years of keeping,
    breeding and rearing theraphosids and scorpions, I've never kept them on
    sterile soil. It's unnatural. I tried 'sterile potting soil' once or twice
    but I
    found that dead unnoticed crickets molded up twice as fast with no micro-
    organisms in the soil to aid their decomposition. With regular garden soil,
    micro-organisms cause tarantula faeces, discarded boli and unnoticed
    dead crickets to quickly decay.
    Additonally, it's believed that trace minerals are ingested with their food as
    the tarantula eats and preens it's feet. If a tarantula is in good health,
    rarely succumb to pathgogens and parasitic organisms from the soil unless
    they're highly stressed, old, ill or out numbered (rarest) by the nastys.
    The instant you introduce a tarantula and it's food source into a 'sterile
    terraria ... it's no longer sterile. Tarantulas have to live with these
    (not unsanitary) conditions in their natural environment or their health will
    suffer later in life in fighting off these parasites and pathogens.
    Remember, nonsterile is not the same as unsanitary. Regular soil stirring
    or refreshening, water dish cleaning, picking out dead crickets, not too wet
    or too dry (depending on the species' requirements) and environmentally
    enriching 'furniture' bark, rocks, plastic plants, are all important for
    a healthy tarantula.
    Rick C. West

    I hope this helps,
  3. MrDeranged

    MrDeranged He Who Rules Staff Member

    Personally, I can't think of any reason why you would want to. At the same time your killing off anything bad in the peat, you are also killing of any beneficial microorganisms as well. As soon as you put anything in there, it's no longer going to be sterile. Hell, as soon as it hits the air it wont be sterile any longer and at that point, anything bad that decides to move in wont have anything left to compete with it and will quickly take over then enclosure. My peat is already mixed with vermiculite and sits in a covered 66 gallon tub OUTSIDE. If I sat and sterilized every little bit I used, my oven would be on 24/7. Don't even bother IMO.


    Edit: Damn, Steve beat me to it... ;)
  4. Steve Nunn

    Steve Nunn Arachnoprince Old Timer

    neener neener!!!
  5. MrDeranged

    MrDeranged He Who Rules Staff Member

    Say it with a smilie ;P

  6. pauls

    pauls Arachnopeon

    Well then, I guess that answers my questions. Thanks for the thorough answers! I'm going to pick up a bad of peat moss today. Is it ok to mix with my current stuff then? What does mixing do? Or do I just put in plain peat? I've got about 1.5" of stuff so far...was thinking of adding 2-3" of the peat moss.

  7. pauls

    pauls Arachnopeon

    Nevermind...reread Scott's post to see he mixes vermiculite with peat as well. Thanks again!

  8. Immortal_sin

    Immortal_sin Arachnotemptress Old Timer

    yup, you got the best answers. I know of people that DO sterilize, but IMO, sure seems like the biggest waste of time ever LOL
    Peat moss is acidic and seems to retard mold, fungus, and decay fairly well. If I notice a bolus, I will pick it out, but I've never been even one of those people that is fanatical about that. As long as there is no nasty smell of decay, I would assume it's fairly safe. And I've never had a T die from 'unsterile' conditions!
  9. Steve Nunn

    Steve Nunn Arachnoprince Old Timer

    Well put Holley. No one ever has. I think people tend to confuse 'unsterile' with 'unsanitory'. As Rick had mentioned in that quote, as soon as food, water, the tarantula itself, even air gets in to the enclosure, things are no longer 'sterile', so there's absolutely no point. And why disturb the bacterial balance found in the substrates we use?? BAD MOVE!!!! It just gives bad bacteria a chance to overtake and quickly ruin what may be expensive substrate that had a nice, even balance of good bacteria to fight such things as mold.

    I understand peoples beliefs, both the top keeping books recommend baking the substrate, but everyone makes mistakes and information is constantly updated in this relatively 'new' hobby.