How bad is orchid bark?

Pulk

Arachnoprince
Old Timer
Joined
May 10, 2007
Messages
1,049
The herp store I frequent is excellent as far as prices, cleanliness, honesty, and friendliness. However, they encouraged me to use orchid bark for all the things I have, and it sounds like bark is actually really, really, really, really bad. Nothing seems to have suffered from it, but I don't really know anything about this stuff. Just how bad is orchid bark?
More importantly, what is an acceptable, cheap, all-purpose substrate?
What's good/acceptable for L. parahybana? (and if pede people are reading this, S. heros)
I'm not looking for The One Substrate Mix that's perfect, just something I can get at this store that's not as bad(?) as orchid bark.
 

Taceas

Arachnolord
Old Timer
Joined
May 12, 2006
Messages
659
Orchid bark is mostly fir tree bark, and depending on the brand/supplier can be really smelly or dusty, neither of which would be good for any tarantula I don't think.

I think the two most commonly used substrates are coconut coir and peat moss. The coconut coir is available in brick form you add water to in a bucket and it fluffs up, peat moss can be had at most garden centers. Although be sure to check for added chemicals.
 

Talkenlate04

ArachnoGod
Old Timer
Joined
Feb 13, 2006
Messages
8,662
orchid bark for all the things I have, and it sounds like bark is actually really really bad.
Bark can just be bad in general. If the T wants to burrow it cant. Bark holds next to nothing in the humidity department. If wet to long it can start to rot. When a T walks around it can be abrasive and cause sores. There are other reasons I am sure but those are a few examples.


More importantly, what is an acceptable, cheap, all-purpose substrate?
Any potting soil or peat moss mix or strait peat just as long as there are no chemical additives. Vermiculite mixed with peatmoss works really well too. You can work on whatever combo of the two suits you best. I just use peat myself and have never had a problem.
Hope this helps some.
 

tyrel

Arachnobaron
Old Timer
Joined
Oct 24, 2005
Messages
498
I hope you don't mind if I hi-jack your thread a bit, But I have a similar question: Why is using fine, smooth gravel such a no-no for arachnids? I could understand not using it for a burrowing animal, but even when used for a terrestrial or aboreal animal, it seems that other keepers get upset. I keep my flatrock scorpions on it, I have seen vinnegaroons on it, and I have seen centipedes on it. All were very happy and healthy. I suspect aboreal and terrestrial tarantulas would be fine with it also. Mabye even burrowing ones if they are supplied with a pre-made burrow. It seems to be more of a taboo than an actual husbandry issue. Any thoughts on this are welcome.

By the way, when I handle orchid bark, I get alot of splinters. That may be an issue when keeping some types of inverts.
 

Talkenlate04

ArachnoGod
Old Timer
Joined
Feb 13, 2006
Messages
8,662
It seems to be more of a taboo than an actual husbandry issue.
Gravel is well hard on a T. Same as bark in many ways. Holds ZERO humidity, can be abrasive, can't burrow, if they climb and fall it can be a pretty hard fall and maybe a harmful fall, and the best reason of all to not use rocks is,

NO T I CAN THINK OF LIVES ON JUST ROCKS IN THE WILD. Not a one, rocks don't really make an ideal home for a T.
Snakes curl up and get warm on rocks, lizards run and hide and some live in and on rocks, but not Ts.
 

tyrel

Arachnobaron
Old Timer
Joined
Oct 24, 2005
Messages
498
Gravel is well hard on a T. Same as bark in many ways. Holds ZERO humidity, can be abrasive, can't burrow, if they climb and fall it can be a pretty hard fall and maybe a harmful fall, and the best reason of all to not use rocks is,

NO T I CAN THINK OF LIVES ON JUST ROCKS IN THE WILD. Not a one, rocks don't really make an ideal home for a T.
Snakes curl up and get warm on rocks, lizards run and hide and some live in and on rocks, but not Ts.
Hmm... You make some valid points against useing gravel with tarantulas. (To tell you the truth, I'm not a tarantula keeper.) It still seems to work well for terrestial scorpions though. And the centipede I saw seems to be fine on it, at least with it's premade burrow.

Sorry, I didn't mean to get anyone riled up, I was just thinking out loud.
 

Talkenlate04

ArachnoGod
Old Timer
Joined
Feb 13, 2006
Messages
8,662
Na I was not riled. I was just felt like acting like a laywer on behalf of the Ts. {D
Not really. Just making some points I guess, I do know that gravel works with many herps. But Ts dont really like it.
 

Syngyne

Arachnoknight
Old Timer
Joined
Feb 16, 2007
Messages
229
So I ate a coconut... should I use it as housing?

Oop ignore this
 
Last edited:

JMoran1097

Arachnoangel
Old Timer
Joined
May 14, 2007
Messages
924
as it's already been explained, bark of any kind promotes more negatives rather than positives when dealing with T's. i'd go either with coconut fiber or peat moss, but quite frankly, coconut fiber from pet stores is something you can always trust to be pet friendly whereas peat moss or vermiculite can be treated with harmful chemicals and should only be checked by a certified garden center specialist before purchased. bottom line is that a T needs a soft, humidity-providing, burrow-able substance.
 

kyrga

Arachnobaron
Old Timer
Joined
Mar 24, 2007
Messages
321
Why is using fine, smooth gravel such a no-no for arachnids? I could understand not using it for a burrowing animal, but even when used for a terrestrial or aboreal animal, it seems that other keepers get upset.
I've always heard nothing but bad about substrate like this, but I know a guy who's had the same T for 16 years now, and I recently saw a pic of it, and this T was kept in every condition you're not supposed to keep a T in. Rocks/gravel for substrate, heat rocks, a good 1'-1.5' between top of substrate and lid... and it was one of the healthiest looking Ts I've seen, so :? I'd still play it on the safe side though, especially with the more delicate species.

As for bark, I believe fir trees are natural insecticides, and can be poisonous to Ts.
 

Moltar

ArachnoGod
Old Timer
Joined
Apr 11, 2007
Messages
5,450
I've had a hard time finding anything appropriate without chemical additives. After looking all around (lowes, home depot, walmart, small local garden specialties, etc.) I struck gold at a large specialty gardening/landscaping place. What i got was a cube of compressed peat. This is chopped up partially decomposed peat moss with ZERO anything added which is intended to be added to plantings as a natural fertilizer. This will be out back in big palletized stacks along with topsoil, fertilizer, etc.

So i take the peat, nuke it in batches for a couple minutes each to kill any mold, mites, etc let it dry in an open bowl for a few days if necessary then mix it about 80/20 to 90/10 with horticultural vermiculite and add just enough water to kill the dust. I keep dry condition spideys so if you have some rain-foresty types of course you'll want to add more. The moistening process takes a while as i'm mixing it up in a big bowl with a spatula. At the same time i'm removing sticks/roots, breaking up big clumps, etc.

This seems to work really well. I have two Nhandu sp, an L. parahybana, A.anax, G. aureostriata and an H. incei who are all burrowing around like crazy in the stuff. After trying a few different mixes i find this stuff to be the best so far.
 

Pulk

Arachnoprince
Old Timer
Joined
May 10, 2007
Messages
1,049
Will coconut fiber and peat moss both work for both L. parahybana and S. heros?
(I find out tomorrow morning which, if either, I'm getting, but I'm going to the store soon after that and it'll be a while till I can go again, so I want to be prepared for either :eek: )
 

phil jones

Arachnoprince
Old Timer
Joined
Dec 17, 2006
Messages
1,052
coconut fiber block is very good imo and my ( T.S.) seem ok about it / with it i had no complaints from them lol ._._._ phil :) ;)
 

JMoran1097

Arachnoangel
Old Timer
Joined
May 14, 2007
Messages
924
Will coconut fiber and peat moss both work for both L. parahybana and S. heros?
(I find out tomorrow morning which, if either, I'm getting, but I'm going to the store soon after that and it'll be a while till I can go again, so I want to be prepared for either :eek: )
i'm not sure if you've already purchased anything, but just in case you happen to read this before purchasing, coconut fiber/peat moss is pretty much universal for any T.
 
Top