Is there a perfect substrate? We are often asked by other avid keepers what we use for substrate and what is the best? That was a difficult answer for years without getting into a huge debate! With new products on the market today I figure what better time than to blog about it for all you guys.
Lets talk about the top 3 substrates that people have used over the last 10 years. First being Aspen. I dislike aspen for many reasons. One being I have asthma and allergies. Aspen is very dusty. Along with being dusty, aspen is very dry and brought alot of dry sheds to the table. As the dust accumulated on the racks I then couldn’t take it anymore so we misted the aspen down to control the dust and raise the humidity helping with dry sheds. Which led us to another problem mold. Aspen will mold which is another reason we never found aspen to be a great substrate. Aspen did have one positive side to it and that was it was always clean. You know when you open the bag the substrate was fresh. So we didn’t use aspen very long to say the least. Price per bag I think was $11 – $20. Then you had to have somewhere to store it and it took up alot of room. It definitely wasn’t something I wanted to keep working with.
Ok moving on. Number two on our list is the almighty sheet of paper. I remember 10 years ago if you didn’t keep your animals on unprinted newspaper you were garbage. Yeah right ok. We are talking about an animal that lives in termite mounds its entire life. Ok back on topic here paper has it’s advantages and disadvantages like every other substrate out there. Lets talk about the pro’s of using paper for substrate. For one its easy to clean. Pull the paper out, wash the tub and fresh sheet and you are good to go! Another positive is you get the whole tub clean when you clean them out as opposed to spot cleaning where you are cleaning just an area. It makes for a very clean enclosure for the animal. With a clean enclosure and the paper being white it also allows you to see issues at hand really early on such as mites, respitory infection ect. ect. Another positive is the blood streaks you see during breeding season when pairing your animals. Paper is also very cheap so it cuts costs on large collections. Paper has worked for years for breeding ball pythons and some people love it, some hate it. Your not going to please everybody. SO lets talk about the disadvantages of using paper. First and foremost…. its paper and what I mean by that is……. it is not very absorbant in the fact that when they defecate on it, it pretty much covers the tub. A large 6000 gram female dumping a load on a sheet of paper you might as well get the cat litter scooper and get at it! Also because it is not very absorbant it doesn’t hold humidity well and if you don’t have an adequate water bowl in the tub you will run into dry sheds. It also doesn’t add any support for the animal and what I mean is stand barefooted all day on hard wood floors then stand on carpet all day. Which would you prefer? Also with it not being very absorbant it doesn’t hold smell very well. You walk into a snake room on paper you know when one has defecated.
So last but not least drumroll…….. Cypress Mulch. I loved cypress mulch for years. It was a great substrate for us for many years, 10 to be exact. So lets talk about all the pro’s of cypress mulch. First comes the humidity, my ball pythons thrived on fresh cypress mulch! The feeding response was incredible! The cost was very low at $2.89 a bag and I could just run to lowes or home depot an pick it up anytime I wanted. It was easy to spot clean also and when you were done with it you could throw it out in the yard! Ok so now lets talk about the Cons of the Cypress Mulch. One you never know what you were getting in a bag of cypress from lowes or home depot. I found a fence post in a bag one time that had nails in it. Two, the wonderful humidity would only last about a few weeks and then it would dry out and you would have to change it. Three, cypress was heavy in the tubs. pulling down tub after tub all day and moving the bags around ect. made you feel like you were working on a farm. Four, cypress was not great for re-wetting. You try and re-wet it and the water will literally go to the bottom of the tub or stand on top of the cypress so you go through alot of the cypress to keep the humidity you want. Five cypress comes in large bags so now we have to find somewhere to store it so it was always taking up space. So you see every substrate always had its ups and downs.
So the question is “is there a perfect substrate out there?” Well up until last year the answer was no. There is a new product on the market called “Reptichip” now I was a little skeptical when my buddy JT called me out of Texas and wanted me to try it because I don’t like changing something if what I have is working. So I reluctantly gave it a try and I’m sure glad I did! Repti-chip comes from the highest quality of coconuts out of Sir Lanka. This product is a premium coconut substrate that was created by a reptile breeder exclusively for reptiles. It is completely organic and easy to clean. No parasites or bugs or fence posts. This stuff was amazing! Problem feeders that would only eat once a month now eat every single week! This premium substrate is just that, you know what your getting when you open the block premium substrate nothing more and nothing less! The response I got from my animals is what sold me on it. It literally has nothing but positive results without swallowing the negatives! It comes in a little block which took care of the space issues and will expand into a lot of substrate. It is so absorbant which takes care of alot of the smell we find in large collections and also soaks up any mite prevention you may be using! It holds humidity tremendously well and it’s re-wetting capability is endless! Some guys don’t like the humid condensation on the tubs so they just let the substrate dry out and use it dry. I have never in my life seen a ball python burrow into a substrate until this. THEY ABSOLUTELY LOVE IT and we do too. So we figured what better way to use this product than be a distributor for it. That’s how much we believe in this amazing product. I highly recommend you get a block and try it for yourself. Breeders everywhere are making the switch and I think in two years Aspen, cypress and paper will be a thing of the past! I know one thing I’ll have my animals on reptichip the rest of their lives! Don’t read this blog and say “yea hes gonna say how great it is he sells it” go out and get a block and try it for yourself you will be absolutely amazed! We will probably do another blog soon on the comparsion of Premium reptichip and its not so premium imitating products that are trying to follow in the footsteps of reptichip, so until next time get yourself a block and try it! Your animals will thank you!