Shrinking Substrate, problem for burrowers?

CABIV

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In the last year or so, as I've been re-doing some of my older enclosures to allow the tarantulas to burrow. However, in that time, the substrate has "shrunk" away from the enclosure walls allowing direct "air shafts" into the burrow, and causing minor collapses.

I assume this disrupts the micro-climate in the burrow.

I suspect this shrinkage is also due to drying, but I suspect its not wise to try and dampen the substrate with the tarantula still inside.

What, if anything, should be done? The substrate is 2 parts coconut choir to 1 part top soil.
 

TownesVanZandt

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In the last year or so, as I've been re-doing some of my older enclosures to allow the tarantulas to burrow. However, in that time, the substrate has "shrunk" away from the enclosure walls allowing direct "air shafts" into the burrow, and causing minor collapses.

I assume this disrupts the micro-climate in the burrow.

I suspect this shrinkage is also due to drying, but I suspect its not wise to try and dampen the substrate with the tarantula still inside.

What, if anything, should be done? The substrate is 2 parts coconut choir to 1 part top soil.
I use coco bricks as substrate both for arid and tropical species. In the completely dry ones, the substrate might shrink a bit and leave some gaps by the walls. I have never had any issues with burrows collapsing as a result of it, though it has happened once or twice that crickets runs into the gaps only to get stuck there.

What burrowing species do you have? I always keep the substrate of my tropical species slightly moist by pouring water into it when needed (with the tarantula inside.) As long as you don´t pour water directly onto the T or down the entrance of its burrow, this should be no issue. So to try to answer your last question, I would say that it depends on the species. If it´s an arid one, say an OBT, do nothing. The spider will take care of its own burrow and strengthen it with webbing, parts of old moults etc. if needed. If it´s a species who needs more humidity, add some water to the substrate. If it´s really dry, add water a little by little. With completely dry coco substrate it is easy to add way too much in one go.
 
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TownesVanZandt

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I have a Haplopelm lividum, Aphonopelma seemanni, and a Euthalus sp. that are all living in burrows, and all three enclosures are having this issue.
The Haplopelma lividum like other Asian species needs sligthly moist substrate, so this should not be an issue. If the substrate is dry, just gently pour water from a bottle into it, little by little until the substrate becomes moist. The A. seemani should be kept dryer than the "Haplo", but you might overflow the waterdish and add some water to parts of the substrate from time to time. Then you should avoid this problem you´re describing :)
 

Venom1080

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heck, ive flooded burrows before, no issue. it can come up if it has to. i have no second thoughts about flooding burrows a bit if the substrate gets too dry.
 

TownesVanZandt

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heck, ive flooded burrows before, no issue. it can come up if it has to. i have no second thoughts about flooding burrows a bit if the substrate gets too dry.
Me too, and it´s better to that than to keep a "Haplo" too dry. However, with coco substrate that is so dry that I figure that it OPs might be, it is better to add some water, wait a few minutes to see how far into the substrate it goes and then add some more :)
 

TownesVanZandt

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@CABIV , do you happen to own one of these modern smart-devices with a camera? English is not my mother tongue and a picture of the enclosures in question says more than a thousand English words to me ;)
 

ediblepain

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Just curious, did you pack down the substrate when you first put it in, or did you just dump it in without packing it down?
 

CABIV

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Just curious, did you pack down the substrate when you first put it in, or did you just dump it in without packing it down?
I packed it down with my full weight, short of breaking the tank! I guess it needed more.
 

CABIV

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@CABIV , do you happen to own one of these modern smart-devices with a camera? English is not my mother tongue and a picture of the enclosures in question says more than a thousand English words to me ;)
I will take some when I get home. I don't have any good recent shots.
 

cold blood

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I packed it down with my full weight, short of breaking the tank! I guess it needed more.
Dirt is dense, it shouldnt be packed down like other subs. Pack it tight and it can dry into virtual concrete.

When it shrinks back like that, just fill in those gaps with more soil, easy fix....couple handfuls and gaps are gone.
 

EulersK

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I packed it down with my full weight, short of breaking the tank! I guess it needed more.
Jeez, no need for that. Just tamp it. I lay down 3-5" of substrate, tamp, and repeat. You shouldn't need to put more than a couple pounds of force on it. As @cold blood brought up, you're likely to turn it into a rock by doing what you described. It helps if the substrate is a tad moist when you lay it down.
 

Jeff23

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I couldn't find a substrate hammer at Petco.

I don't worry about mine. I just add more substrate if it is needed. I think it is good for the T to have some activity needs. I always keep a small vial of substrate handy when I do maintenance. Even Mother Nature sometimes sprinkles a little extra substrate around.
 
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