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Small naturalistic experience

Discussion in 'Substrates/Bedding/Flooring' started by rbl, Jan 16, 2007.

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  1. rbl

    rbl MacGyver in real life

    Now that my youngest male leo is old enough for other substrates, I decided I would try a couple of things with him.
    He has been on a sterile type enclosure all his life and never seen anything other than paper and plastic. I decided he should have a taste of the real deal and if everything works well, maybe I'll change all my leos to naturalistic enclosures.

    First and most important, a disclaimer: I got a lot of good info and ideas from Ron Tremper's latest book. It really helps when you can rely on someone else's vast experience and not reinvent the wheel without knowing what are you going to use it for. I highly recommend that book!

    What I used so far:
    - 2 PVC connectors of 68mm (almost 3");
    - 1 5kg bag of Namiba Terra's TerrarienSand ( a special substrate with a high dose of clay that becomes very hard after misting );

    I used 2 PVC connectors. One Y shaped and the other C shaped as you can see from the red marking on the picture bellow. I was eager to start so I haven't any photos of them, sorry =)
    Hopefully they will be used as tunnel and hide.

    First I placed them on a bag, cut open the middle end and covered the other as you can see from the picture bellow. It was going to be covered with sand and too close to the wall to be useful, so I close it.

    Here's another view:

    I then proceeded to cover it with sand and close all gaps.

    I placed the rest of the sand on the enclosure and shaped the tunnel entrances. You can easily shape it right out of the bag. It has enough humidity for that.
    One log later one of the entrances was covered and a path was carved on the sand beneath it, like if it was worn out. The log was secured with sand. Sounds silly but it's really secure =)

    Here's another photo. It's lousy because the flash flatten it out. Tomorrow I'll take a couple of better shots with sun light.

    The piece of schist will be a basking spot and the "heater" of the hide I'm going to place near it.
    I misted it heavily and as soon as it dries I can move the leo in as well as the rest of the decoration.
    It will have a plant covering the other entrance.

    Will post more pics later! =)
  2. Moshpitrockchick

    Moshpitrockchick Subscribed User Premium Member

    Sounds like an interesting project. I don't know if that clay/sand substrate is available in the states, but I have heard alot about it from international herp keepers.
  3. kriminaal

    kriminaal HH Block Leader Staff Member Premium Member

    Good work. It does look very natural. I've also heard of that substrate. If anyone knows where to get it in North Amercia please TELL ME.
  4. ajvw

    ajvw Subscribed User

    That looks really cool! I also would be interested in learning more about that sand. I wonder if it would be possible to make a naturalistic tank bottom out of air-drying earthen clay, molding it to the shape desired and then letting it dry and harden. I guess the issue then might be if the leo went down into the hide and the keeper needed to get it out, they'd have to break apart the clay to get to it... One solution might be to apply the clay in sections, so that the PVC hide and the clay covering it is actually a separate piece (with a very small crack) from the rest, so that it can be lifted out...

    Very neat, thanks for sharing!
  5. Merlin

    Merlin Administrator Staff Member Premium Member

    Exactly what I was thinking! And if the leo was shy you might never be able to get it out to handle it.
    I have never seen this substrate material offered. It does sound interesting but I wonder, since it is a moisture absorbing material, when the leo eliminates would not the wet portion immediately be sucked down into the material and be impossible to clean up. It sounds like that would make for a very smelly, unsanitary, tank very quickly.

    BRIZZY Banned User

    Looks awesome, but not a huge fan of that sand crap! I will never use sand and would enver recommend it for anything especially not leos! Good luck though hope everything stays healthy and well for you!
  7. Merlin

    Merlin Administrator Staff Member Premium Member

    Brizzy this is not sand as such but basically a clay that hardens and becomes solid.
    But I have never seen or heard of it offfered in North America.

    BRIZZY Banned User

    Looks pretty loose to me, until it hardens it's not a good substrate, sorry i misunderstood, but i have not heard of this either offered in the us maybe why i never heard of it!
  9. Merlin

    Merlin Administrator Staff Member Premium Member

    It would have to be to get it out of the bag and into the tank.:D
  10. MoogleBass

    MoogleBass Kittes are so nice! Premium Member

    Nice rbl, I used the same idea with pvc and fake leaves. Great hides and they loved it.

    I wish we could find some of that stuff here but sadly no one here has it and importing it would cost alot.
  11. rbl

    rbl MacGyver in real life

    Amy and Merlin: It doesn't become that hard to the point you would need to break it, it's not 100% clay... users are advised to moist it once or twice a week to keep it hard.
    It's kind of confusing but if it totally dries out, it becomes loose. A little humidity in the top part will bond the small particles together and seal it shut.
    Anyway, this is my first experience with it so I will answer some of your doubts as they become clear to me =)

    As for reaching him, that's one of the reasons why I've chose such a huge diameter. I can safely couch him out if I need. In an emergency, I can just pull it apart because the layer of substrate is shallow.

    The defecatorium is one of the things that is worrying me. Although the top layer will be compact, it won't prevent some moist from being absorbed.
    Instructions in the package advise the user to change the substrate every 12 months for small reptiles (and 6 for large) for these same reasons. They also advise the user to remove fecal matter on every chance, to prevent it from mixing with the substrate when it dries and to contaminate it when you mist it.
    I can remove small portions of that area as it becomes more used but I guess I will have to see how that goes...

    I think some other brands offer a similar product, but again, I'm not aware of european brands penetration in the US market. Maybe you can contact Namiba Terra directly and ask for availability.
  12. venus

    venus Founding Member

    Ricardo, what if you put a piece of repti carpet in teh corner and trained him to potty on it,,that would solve the problem eh?
  13. rbl

    rbl MacGyver in real life

    How can I train him to potty on it? I've tried that several times with all of them and they poop where they choose =)
    I can act after that and try to insulate that area.
  14. rbl

    rbl MacGyver in real life

    Here are some more photos to help you get a better idea of it. Can't get better ones now because it's dark and raining =(
    These are side views, this is the log side:

    and this is the other:
  15. venus

    venus Founding Member

    I'm not sure how to go about it, but I know its possible, lol. Mine go in the same spot everytime. Try starting with paper towel, when they do the doodie (I said doodie :D), move the same paper towel to a specific spot in the tank where you want them to go at all times...maybe they will catch on..Its worth a shot :)
  16. CodyW

    CodyW Elite Member

    Ricardo, neat little project!
    I've always been weary on naturalistic enclosures for arid species as there isn't much activity in the substrate. 12 months seems like a long time if they say that the droppings will contaminate the soil. Maybe if you did a bottom layer of hummus and a corner of the enclosure with some hummus you could get some activity to help break down the droppings.
  17. rbl

    rbl MacGyver in real life

    Marsha, tried that several times and it never work except for a time my first female started pooping on the top of her favorite hide. I guess they have to do it their way... kind of leopard gecko feng shui =)

    Cody, I will remove the droppings as I do now. My toilet breaks them down much better than any substrate ;)
    If it starts getting nasty like Merlin pictured it, either I replace the substrate every x months or I return to my trusty shelf liner.
    Either way I need to watch them closely to monitor substrate ingestion, the ultimate experience regulator.
  18. venus

    venus Founding Member

    Fung shui, LOL...Keep us posted, I hope it works out for you.
  19. Colleen

    Colleen Elite Member

    Ok, I just contacted the company to see if it is available in the United States. If it is available I'll pass along the info.
  20. MoogleBass

    MoogleBass Kittes are so nice! Premium Member

    Thanks colleen :)
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