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So Is Vermiculite Safe Or Not?

Discussion in 'Tarantula Questions & Discussions' started by Mr.Scorpion, Oct 6, 2006.

  1. Mr.Scorpion

    Mr.Scorpion Arachnobaron Old Timer

    I read an article awhile back about vermiculite being a very unhealthy for any living thing around it. Has this been corrected yet? I havent really heard anything about it and searches turned up nothing. Any word yet? Or was this even true in the first place?
  2. Vermiculite is safe. The belief that it isn't stems from an incident a few decades ago when one particular vermiculite quarry was tainted with something that basically make it akin to asbestos, so it led to various lung diseases. But that had nothing to do with the fact that it was vermiculite, but it was just that the place where they were mining it was bad. It still produces a dust and I wouldn't breathe it in because I wouldn't breathe in dust from anything like that, but today's vermiculite is free of the toxins that caused all those problems back then.
  3. Mr.Scorpion

    Mr.Scorpion Arachnobaron Old Timer

    Thanks for clearing that up. Im curious because I heard it holds burrows well?
  4. No, I wouldn't say it holds burrows well. It actually collapses pretty easily. Perhaps if you mixed it with peat it would be better. I use it with my Avics though because it doesn't grow mold.
  5. Mr.Scorpion

    Mr.Scorpion Arachnobaron Old Timer

    I have an A. Seemani that refuses to burrow, is vermiculite a good choice? I will mix very little peat though so at least it has some texture of a rainforest.
  6. Cerbera

    Cerbera Arachnobaron Old Timer

    vermiculite - good to burrow in ? Oh no.

    No - that will be completely ineffective and unnatural and the spider won't burrow in it full stop. Vermiculite does not stick together - AT ALL. And adding a small amount of peat won't make a blind bit of difference to the 'forest texture' you seem to imagine will be the case. All it will do in that quantity / ratio is stick to the spider's feet, and hairs, and generally make its life a misery. Vermiculite works for arboreals because they don't spend any time on it - terrestrials do though, and will not appreciate having to sit on that all day.

    Personally, with my seemanni, and other burrowers (all of whom DO burrow) it is plainly obvious that they have never been happier than when on 100% peat. If you MUST add vermiculite, a mere 5-10% of it will hold moisture effectively, and is a low enough percentage that it does not interfere with the solidity and structural 'clumpiness' of the soil and consequently, the burrow the spider makes.

    For burrowing spiders my own opinion is that not even this is necessary if you provide a large water bowl, and have regulated ventilation, and a properly set up tank.
  7. I would consider vermiculite today to be pretty safe for spiders and anything else that comes into contact with it. Its a pretty inert substance.

    The asbestos fears were a legitimate concern, the Libby, Montana mine where the contaminated vermiculite was found was also in a large deposit of asbestos. The mining company tried to keep it under wraps as a large portion of the miners and the townsfolk became sickened with asbestosis and mesothelioma. But as of 1990 the mine has been shut down.

    Most other vermiculite deposits are tested and deemed safe.

    But from using it as an incubation medium, I can attest to the loose nature of the substrate. It wouldn't hold a burrow for anything. I use it in my arboreal cubes because it holds a good amount of moisture for the humidity needs and is inert so that it doesn't mold. I wouldn't use it as a sole substrate for any terrestrial tarantula. I know from my reptile applications with it, it'd get everywhere and your tarantula would probably take on a metallic sheen from areas that touched it the most. My snakes that dug in it for egg laying media ended up with golden noses.
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