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Best Substrate For Russian Tortoise [Buyers Guide]

Do you need to buy some substrate for your Russian tortoise? Not sure what type to buy or what brand is best? Well, this buyer’s guide is for you.

Today, I’ll be walking you through some of the most popular and highly reviewed substrates that are best suited to the Russian tortoise species.

And we won’t be hanging around.

Here are the top three picks.

Product
Editors Choice
Zoo Med Forest Floor Bedding
Exo Terra Forest Bark Substrate
Small Pet Select Aspen Bedding
Zoo Med Forest Floor Bedding, 8.8 Litre
Exo Terra Forest Bark, Natural Terrarium Substrate, 8 Quarts, PT2752
Small Pet Select - Jumbo Aspen Bedding - 113L
Material
Cypress Mulch
Natural Fir Bark
Aspen Shavings
Editors Choice
Product
Zoo Med Forest Floor Bedding
Zoo Med Forest Floor Bedding, 8.8 Litre
Material
Cypress Mulch
Product
Exo Terra Forest Bark Substrate
Exo Terra Forest Bark, Natural Terrarium Substrate, 8 Quarts, PT2752
Material
Natural Fir Bark
Product
Small Pet Select Aspen Bedding
Small Pet Select - Jumbo Aspen Bedding - 113L
Material
Aspen Shavings

Substrate Details

Let us now look at each respective product and the pros and cons of using each particular one.

Zoo Med Forest Floor Bedding

Sale
Zoo Med Forest Floor Bedding, 8.8 Litre
  • 100% natural cypress mulch
  • All natural green "product"
  • Recommended terrarium substrate for many species of snakes, lizards, land turtles, tortoises, frogs, toads, salamanders, tarantulas

Pros

๐Ÿ‘ Substrate retains moisture and holds humidity well.

๐Ÿ‘ Promotes active digging and burrowing.

๐Ÿ‘ Individual pieces are of a great, sufficient size preventing any accidental ingestion.

๐Ÿ‘ Excellent value for money.

๐Ÿ‘ Great consistency and no foul odors or smells.

Cons

๐Ÿ‘Ž Can be delivered slightly wet and may need a little drying prior to use.

Exo Terra Forest Bark Substrate

Sale
Exo Terra Forest Bark, Natural Terrarium Substrate, 8 Quarts, PT2752
  • Reptile terrarium substrate made from 100% natural fir bark
  • Controls air humidity levels and is ideal for humidity loving reptiles
  • Hygroscopic, readily absorbs and releases moisture
  • Stimulates natural digging and burrowing behavior
  • 8-quart bag of natural reptile terrarium substrate

Pros

๐Ÿ‘ Very easy to clean up and doesn’t get soggy.

๐Ÿ‘ Again, excellent size pieces prevent ingestion.

๐Ÿ‘ Less messy than soil bedding.

Cons

๐Ÿ‘Ž Requires work prior to use; either soaking if too dry or drying if too wet.

๐Ÿ‘Ž Quality has been known to vary.

Small Pet Select Aspen Bedding

Small Pet Select - Jumbo Aspen Bedding - 113L
  • All Natural Aspen
  • No Additives
  • Kiln Dried
  • Compostable/Recyclable

Pros

๐Ÿ‘ Soft and comfortable for tortoises

๐Ÿ‘ Large shavings that fluff up to prevent ingestion.

๐Ÿ‘ Highly absorbent.

๐Ÿ‘ Pleasant smelling – a ‘natural woodsy smell’, which helps keep the enclosure smelling fresh.

Cons

๐Ÿ‘Ž Can be a bit dusty.

๐Ÿ‘Ž A little messy to work with and use.

Russian Tortoise Substrate Buyers Guide

What Makes A Good Substrate For A Russian Tortoise

The best substrates for a Russian tortoise are those that mimic the native land where these species originate.

And these tortoises naturally reside in central Asia, namely Iran, Afghanistan, and Pakistan.

The soil there is arid/semi-arid. In other words, it has a relatively modest humidity level.

In fact, Russian tortoises in the wild will often dig and burrow underground to cope with the low humidity of the environment. Underground burrow humidity can be as high as 70%.

So it is therefore essential that you keep your Russian tortoise on a substrate that retains some level of moisture, and therefore humidity.

This will ensure they can self-regulate their body temperature and keep sufficiently hydrated.

But you do need to be careful of extremes.

Too much humidity and tortoises can suffer from shell rot.

Too little humidity and a tortoise can suffer from dehydration.

As you can see, humidity only becomes an issue when it is too far out of whack – at either end of the spectrum.

So as a general rule of thumb, you should be opting for humidity in the 40-70% range.

How Often Should You Change The Substrate For Your Russian Tortoise?

You will need to change the substrate in your Russian tortoise enclosure every 3-6 months.

Although, it does depend on the type of substrate you use, how much you use at any one time (depth), and also the size of the enclosure.

For instance, a smaller enclosure with less substrate used will require more frequent changing, perhaps every 2-3 months.

A deeper level of substrate, around 6″, may need to be changed every 4-6 months.

How Much Substrate Should You Use For Your Russian Tortoise?

Russian tortoises are obligate burrows. Or in other words, they love to dig and burrow below the surface.

For this reason, it is advised to provide a sufficient depth of substrate, at least 3-4″, preferably up to 6″ at any one time.

This will allow your Russian tortoise to effectively dig as and when required.

What Substrates Are Unsafe To Use For Russian Tortoises

Pine/cedar shavings, regular sand, and walnut shells are among some of the substrates that you should not use for your Russian tortoise.

Pine or cedar shavings contain toxic oils and fumes which can harm your tortoise, whereas sand and walnut shells can be ingested which can result in a whole host of complications to their digestive tract and systems.

Finally

Each of the three options presented here today will serve you and your Russian tortoise well.

Besides, they are routinely used by keepers all over the world.

But, if you are looking for a quick, simple recommendation, then I would opt for the Zoo Med Forest Floor Bedding.

As an all-natural cypress mulch, it will not only look amazing when it is laid down but most importantly, it will retain sufficient moisture and resulting humidity for your Russian torts’ needs โฌ‡๏ธ