Cavern Kit & Tarantulas?

raggamuffin415

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So I'm always looking at new ways to build and improve upon my enclosures. For arboreals, I like to glue cork board pieces as backing and fill in gaps with either moss (if small) or expanding foam (painted and covered with cocoa fiber). Recently stumbled upon this cavern kit, and was intrigued to make some mounds, etc. Figured I could use it to fill gaps in cork board too.

From what I've read, this product is used more for scorpions and lizards. Anyone have experience housing tarantulas with this stuff? What about when spraying and moisterizing enclosure, will the dirt soften and negatively impact t's? Will the structural strength be compromised by a little water?
 

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sdsnybny

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If I remember there is a YouTube video on the product (excavator clay) that said it becomes soft/malleable when it becomes wet again. I believe is on the ZooMed website.
 

vespers

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Excavator Clay is meant for desert animals and dry, arid conditions. It will revert back to a mud-like consistency when moistened.
 

Red Eunice

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Will the structural strength be compromised by a little water?
Define "a little water".
I've used the same kits, in scorpion enclosures, mixed 60/40 with sand. Bought locally for $20 per kit, couldn't locate just the clay. Works well, holds it shape even when I've overfilled the water dishes. Takes days to dry out again, slight PITA.
The red clay, IMO, wouldn't serve well for filling gaps. When mixed with water only, dried completely, shrinks and might dislodge. May be of little concern if applied on a horizontal surface though.
 

raggamuffin415

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I am using it for vertical backing on arboreal tank... didn't mix the excavator clay with anything, though I did throw some cocoa fiber on top (not pictured) for texture. I applied it pretty liberally around bark, so a little shrinkage hopefully won't affect it's appearance. Was also planning on making a little sloped mound in corner holding a cork round for hide.

When I say a little water, I mean light misting and overflowing water bowl. If the clay is moistened, will it be a health concern then to spider, aka can they get legs stuck in it or clay gets in mouth or lungs? I'm thinking of putting my female P. Subfusca (HL) when she matures... she's about 4+" right now. I appreciate your help guys, hopefully I don't have to scrap this brand new exo terra project!
 

Red Eunice

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I must say that is a unique look. First one I've seen using clay as a filler. Nice job! Hopefully it will keep in place on the glass surface.
As far as a health hazard, once dried shouldn't be of concern. They are very clean creatures and during grooming will remove foreign particles.
 
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viper69

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I would recommend using it vertically instead of GS. Honestly for Ts, you could go w/the entire wall in cork, using ZooMeds Cork tiles like the dart frog owners often do.

I talked to a ZooMed rep at a show, and it it's great for arid species. IMO, to make what one wants you have to buy more than you may think. At least that was the case when I viewed some nice, but small setups.

I'd use it for Ts, but if it gets wet (how wet I don't know) it may get mushy.

OR, instead of buying a product, you could make your own clay-like setups like @mygale has done. Check out his flickr page. He has some nice setups that he made w/out using a product. Not there is anything wrong with using a product mind you.
 

viper69

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I must say that is a unique look. First one I've seen using clay as a filler. Nice job! Hopefully it will keep in place on the glass surface.
As far as a health hazard, once dried shouldn't be of concern. They are very clean creatures and during grooming will remove foreign particles.
The ZooMed rep told me it sticks to glass very well. I tried to remove it from their setups, and it seemed like it was on the glass quite tightly. W/that said, who knows how long it's been tested. Without that knowledge I'd be worried of a clay avalanche onto my pet.
 

Red Eunice

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The ZooMed rep told me it sticks to glass very well. I tried to remove it from their setups, and it seemed like it was on the glass quite tightly. W/that said, who knows how long it's been tested. Without that knowledge I'd be worried of a clay avalanche onto my pet.
Good to know, adhesion was my concern.
I just use cork, held in place with tye-wraps, in arboreal enclosures. Plain, light weight and works well.
 

raggamuffin415

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Thanks for the info Chris! It seems to be sticking to the glass just fine, though I think I may have used a little too much water, so gotta wait a few days to get a better sense of strength. I find the cork tiles boring, plus takes fun out of designing. I normally do cork chunks with moss and/or expanding foam as filler for backdrop, but spotted this at lps, and employee showed me some bearded dragon setups they made with excavator clay that looked dope. I thought it'd last longer than it did, as you said, took a full 12 lbs bag to do this (and I used hard foam underneath as base!). Here's another update pic. Still need to add substrate, leaf litter, and a few vinyl plants and vines to complete (gonna wait til clay dries first). Will post final pic eventually. Would love to be able to make clay myself, but wouldn't know what to use here in the Bay Area (any ideas dude?).

Merry Xmas yall!
 

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viper69

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Looks nice so far. One thing to consider is depth of sub. I'd advise, though not mandatory, giving enough sub so that the T can make a back exit. Some like to have more than one opening, including Poki's.
 

raggamuffin415

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So far it's just clay, I am still going to add several inches of sub for sure. The cork is planted into clay for stability, so she won't be able to dig a back entrance once it hardens unfortunately. None of my adult pokies really use their tube much from what I've noticed, but always put one just in case.
 

viper69

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So far it's just clay, I am still going to add several inches of sub for sure. The cork is planted into clay for stability, so she won't be able to dig a back entrance once it hardens unfortunately. None of my adult pokies really use their tube much from what I've noticed, but always put one just in case.
Yeah we can never predict what they will find useful hah. What are they doing if they don't use your cork tubes?
 

Red Eunice

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I thought it'd last longer than it did, took a full 12 lbs bag to do this.

Yeah, 12 lbs sounds like a lot, until you mix and apply it. I'm glad I bought 2 kits for a pair of H. arizonensis enclosures, had just enough to do 'em.
 

raggamuffin415

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And here is final product... some of clay is probably still drying, I'm pretty sure I used little too much water. Even had to clean a little mold that was starting to grow at base of wood and cork pieces. Either way I'm happy with result, only drawback is this tanks heavy as hell!
 

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mitty

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And here is final product... some of clay is probably still drying, I'm pretty sure I used little too much water. Even had to clean a little mold that was starting to grow at base of wood and cork pieces. Either way I'm happy with result, only drawback is this tanks heavy as hell!
Just now checking back on this, sorry for the late post. This looks great! How's it holding up so far? Does it have any tenants? :)
 

raggamuffin415

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Thanks! So far so good, the clay has dried and has not budged or shrunk from what I can tell. No tenant so far, probably gonna wait one more molt before putting her in. It'll either be my P. Subfusca HL or P. Rufilata females, or P. Metallica male (least likely ).
 

user 666

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Here's an updated look... Gotta let it dry a few days still.
That's an interesting use of excavator clay.

I have single pieces of cork bark glued to the back of small enclosures. They look fine now (most do - my first attempts look terrible), but now I can see how putting clay around the bark would make it look better. I could stick plastic leaves in the bark, too.
 
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