Substrate for marginated tortoise

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Substrate for marginated tortoise

Post by Shelly2015 » 13 Sep 2020, 11:05

I am in the process of setting up my tortoise table and I have read a couple of things about what to put my marginated tortoise on. Many say sterilised soil but I have also read the a mixture of sand and top soil is best does anyone know which would be better?

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Re: Substrate for marginated tortoise

Post by Nina » 13 Sep 2020, 11:17

Hi Shelly,

It's a good question, and substrate is the source of a lot of debate. We have found that the best substrate is the one nearest to what the tortoises would live on in nature, and this -- for most species (including Marginated torts) -- is a mixture of sterilised topsoil and children's play sand. It must be children's play sand because builder's sand can contain bits of glassl, but bags of topsoil and play sand can be bought at most garden centres, Homebase, etc. Most people mix it 50/50, and some people have a higher proportion of topsoil to sand (I use about 60% or 70% topsoil to about 40% or 30% sand), but that is certainly what they live on in the wild.

When you have a substrate of topsoil and sand there is a slight risk of it getting very dry and dusty, and dust particles getting into the eyes of a tortoise (although this is not common). So we recommend spraying the surface of that substrate lightly every day or two -- or what I do is to pour some water on the substrate and mix it in well every two or three days, with the result being that the substrate is just the teeny tiniest bit damp -- not at all wet -- so that the mixture will just clump together a bit if squeezed in the hand. This also makes the mixture a good texture for tortoises to dig down in (I have Horsfields and they are great diggers). But you certainly don't want the mixture to be at all wet -- just the tiniest bit damp. A soil/sand mix also makes spot cleaning easier as you can see the dark patch from wee and it clumps together so is easily removed. And I would have the substrate as deep as your tortoise table will allow.

Hope that helps, and please don't hesitate to contact us if you have any more questions or problems.


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