Typical substrate question

Iscariot

Arachnopeon
Joined
May 25, 2010
Messages
9
I see so many people on here disapprove of the use of repti-bark for T's but could it be alright in moderation? I will soon be aquiring an H. lividum and while researching I stumbled upon this care sheet. http://arachnophiles.myfreeforum.org/Haplopelma_Sp__about50.html

My question is, could a mixture of a small amount of repti-bark in eco earth aid in the making of burrows for these types of T's?


Sorry in advance if this has been answered before.
 

jebbewocky

Arachnoangel
Old Timer
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Oct 1, 2009
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910
Try it, see how it works. Most people that use repti-bark tend to use it by itself, and are newbs--this guy is using it for different reasons, as part of a mix, and I've seen some of his youtube videos--he seems to know what he's doing.

Never kept an obligate burrower myself, but that's what I'd do.
 

Iscariot

Arachnopeon
Joined
May 25, 2010
Messages
9
The only problem I see with that is I'll have one fuzzy little angry blue bolt of lightning to rehouse if it doesn't work. {D


Any ideas on what the ratio of bark chips to eco earth shoud be?
 

jebbewocky

Arachnoangel
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The only problem I see with that is I'll have one fuzzy little angry blue bolt of lightning to rehouse if it doesn't work. {D


Any ideas on what the ratio of bark chips to eco earth shoud be?
Yeah, I don't envy you on that.
As far as ratio, I have no idea. See if you can get a hold of HF and ask what ratio he does.
 

Ictinike

Arachnobaron
Old Timer
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Aug 30, 2009
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I've had the larger pieces mold in a semi-arid setup just overflowing the water dish a time or two a week in the summer.. I couldn't imagine using it in a H. lividium setup that's going, or rather should be, more moist and humid.

I would go with peat for that honestly.
 

Iscariot

Arachnopeon
Joined
May 25, 2010
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Yeah, I thought that little pieces of wood in a set up with high humidity would be bad. I've been too afraid to use peat for anything after reading some reviews of certain brands that apparently came with mites according too customers. More or less, I'm just looking for a substrate that would be good to add to eco earth to make more stable burrows.

Would peat help?? What about sand?
 

JimM

Arachnoangel
Old Timer
Joined
Nov 6, 2003
Messages
873
So eco earth would be fine by itself?

I would (and do) simply use peat, but yes eco earth by itself would be fine.
I personally don't purchase substrates marketed for the pet trade, and thus give them their 300% mark up.

A large bale of peat from the nursery - done.
 

Ictinike

Arachnobaron
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Aug 30, 2009
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So eco earth would be fine by itself?
I have my female in eco earth that is "slightly" damp but not soggy. I also built her a makeshift burrow out of corkbark that angles into the sub so she has a place to hide. Mine never built a burrow herself now having her a year and I just rehoused her due to mites.

The mites were my fault over the summer keeping her more damp than usual and a few days in a dry enclosure with paper towels and a water dish helped but I still have a few more.

It's a delicate balance and with these types of burrows and while they need more than average humidity the burrow does help keep that damp feeling around her at all times yet still being dry enough, I hope, that the mites fall off to molt or lay eggs and end of dieing.

You could also try isopods to help keep them in check and I'll have a few generations here hopefully I can add to my girls enclosure. Isopods are what we Midwest folk call "Rollie Pollies" and if you do a search here on AB for the word "isopod" you'll be sure to find a suitable amount of information.

Isopods help keep the left over debris and food boluses to a manageable level and are known to eat mites and their eggs as well as various fungi and other things that can thrive/live in these types of enclosures. I ran out and had to catch a few more batches from the outdoors to use but I don't use those wild caught and let them breed a few generations before using; to help work out any possible pesticides/etc that make come in with them. They do well and are our little "house cleaners" on more humid type setups.
 

Ictinike

Arachnobaron
Old Timer
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Aug 30, 2009
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I would (and do) simply use peat, but yes eco earth by itself would be fine.
I personally don't purchase substrates marketed for the pet trade, and thus give them their 300% mark up.

A large bale of peat from the nursery - done.
JimM.. I've secured a bale myself to start using based on you and others usage and comments and I now have my A. brocklehursti on it now and it seems to really enjoy it and is all over the place now instead of simply hiding out in his hide.

Now that I have several T's this is clearly the way to go and the added benefit of being a bit more acidic helps with the growths and mites. I'm looking forward to re-housing some more soon in new enclosures and plan on doing peat and possibly peat/coir mix since I have some left over.

Do you see issues with using a mix?
 

Mattyb

Arachnoking
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Jun 28, 2004
Messages
2,321
So eco earth would be fine by itself?
Yes eco-earth is great. no need for the bark.

@JimM. 100% peat is great as well. it is what i used to use, but it seems to be harder and harder to find 100% peat (atleast around my area).
 

Stan Schultz

Arachnoprince
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Jul 16, 2004
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... I will soon be aquiring an H. lividum and while researching I stumbled upon this care sheet. ...
All the excess horse pucky set aside, H. lividum doesn't require much different conditions than most other tarantulas with the single exception that most people who are most successful with them allow them to burrow.

I quote a section from one of my responses in http://arachnophiles.myfreeforum.org/viewtopic.php?f=9&t=8822:

We categorize H. lividum as a burrower, not because it requires a higher humidity. Those tarantulas that "require" a markedly high humidity we categorize as the "swamp dwellers." (I use the quotes here because a lot of experimentally inclined enthusiasts have managed to get even these tarantulas to survive, if not thrive, in much drier cages.) They do just fine in a nearly bone dry cage. They apparently require the burrow for "psychological" reasons. But, every time we make that statement someone asks something like "What psychology?" and we diverge on an extended, esoteric discussion about whether or not spiders are capable of any sort of psychology. So, I won't mention it. :D ...

Contrary to the caresheets you've been reading, H. lividum does not require a temperature markedly different than normal room temperature any more than most other tarantulas. And, neither do they require an abnormally high humidity. The basic rules still hold:

1) The tarantula will thrive at just about any temperature you're comfortable at. We tend to judge tarantulas and their care by human standards, but that's extremely flawed, and the issue of temperature is a good example of why. Tarantulas, being poikilotherms (cold blooded) are able to function and even thrive in a very wide range of temperatures. Humans (warm blooded or homeotherms), because we get sick if our body temperature wavers more than a very few degrees either way of 98.6F - 37C, are very sensitive to temperatures just a few degrees different than nominal "room temperature." Hence, if you're comfortable, the tarantula is well within its functional range.

2) The tarantula is easily capable of adjusting to just about any reasonable humidity as long as it has a ready source of water (in this case supplied by a weekly small deluge in its burrow). If humidity seems to be an issue, cover all the open area of its cage with plastic food wrap and install a water dish in spite of the tarantula's proclivity for filling it with substrate.

Which brings us around to one problem we and several others have reported with them. They often fill their water dishes with soil, and we were a little worried that they would then not get enough water to thrive. So, we took to permanently removing the water dishes and dumping 1/4 to 1/3 cup of room temperature tap water down their burrows once every week or ten days.

As for substrate, everybody has their favorite. Shredded coconut husk (aka, Bed-a-Beast, Eco-Earth, etc.) wasn't available when we were keeping them, so I have little direct experience with the product. Others, however, report generally good success, although this surprises me because I would have thought there would be burrow collapse issues.

We used a mixture of peat and organic garden loam or topsoil. Peat but itself seemed to be too loose and friable, and the burrows would collapse on the tarantula every time we'd move the cage. The organic garden soil (hopefully free of pesticides, but who can tell for sure?) was too hard once dry if used all by itself. The two mixed together seemed to adopt the appropriate characteristics of both to produce a substrate that was soft enough for the tarantula to burrow in readily, but robust enough to maintain a burrow under some pretty rough conditions if necessary.

In TKG3 (sorry for the self-serving plug, people :eek:) we write, ... mixing one part by volume of peat or shredded coconut husk with two or three parts by volume of topsoil .... But, since then we have come to realize that the exact proportions depend partly on what the enthusiast thinks is appropriate, and partly on the characteristics of the topsoil or garden loam. As a starting point I would recommend a 50/50 mix, then adding either more loam or soil if the mix was too fluffy, or more peat if the mix was too heavy and intractable. Regardless, the exact characteristics of the mix are not too relevant because the tarantula is easily capable of burrowing in just about any reasonable mix.

[Note: Those of you paying attention may be a bit surprised at this because we generally preach against using mixes (e.g., peat with vermiculite, sand with peat, peat with shredded coconut husk, etc.) This is the one instance when we actually found a distinct advantage to a mix over either pure ingredient by itself.]

So, as with most tarantulas, including H. lividum, humidity issues are generally bogus, temperature issues are generally bogus, and substrate issues are generally borderline irrelevant as long as you do nothing outright harmful.

And that brings us around to using wood chips or other wood or bark products in a tarantula's cage. I've seen very few reports of people actually having serious problems with wood products in general. Our hesitance with using them is based on some fairly good theoretical arguments against the practice, and the fact that no one wants to be the guinea pig who loses a $150 tarantula to prove the point. Safer is better.

And, you can't trust the pet shops because many who gladly sell you the Repti-Bark (or whatever) also sell bags of pure cedar shavings in spite of its demonstrated toxicity to gerbils, and the fact that it's a proven allergen (2000+ hits when you Google cedar wood allergy -pollen site:edu) and carcinogen (1500+ hits when you Google cedar carcinogen site:edu).

I would strongly suggest that you stick with the tried and proven substrates: either peat or shredded coconut husk, perhaps with organic top soil or garden loam mixed in.

Enjoy your little 8-legged troglodyte!
 
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