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 #1149794


Sidbarvin
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 Dirt Question

Iím putting dirt in my Niles new cage right now. Should I compact it or leave it loose?



01/27/07  02:09pm

 #1149817


Adam89
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  Message To: Sidbarvin   In reference to Message Id: 1149794


 Dirt Question

I would compact it, this way it will be easier to hold a burrow right off the back.



01/27/07  02:33pm

 #1149911


Field_Herper
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  Message To: Sidbarvin   In reference to Message Id: 1149794


 Dirt Question

It really depends on the specific dirt. If your soil is loose and doesnít hold a real strong burrow, then pack it down a little. However, with heavy soils you probably donít want to as much. The monitors usually do enough packing down of the heavy soils on their own by running around on it all day (I know my ackies do). Anyway, just experiment a little with your soil on the water levels and the amount of packing it down. You want it to hold a strong burrow, but you also want it to be easy for your animal to excavate those burrows.

Ryan



01/27/07  04:04pm

 #1150014


Sidbarvin
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  Message To: Field_Herper   In reference to Message Id: 1149911


 Dirt Question

Its pretty wet and frozen right now but I got some that was thawed out and packed it into a ball. It seems to hold together pretty well if that is any indication. Its Garden plus from Loweís. I bought 500 lbs and itís not even close to enough to fill the area. Iím reinforcing the cage now. Should I add sand as well?



01/27/07  05:56pm

 #1150367


Field_Herper
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  Message To: Sidbarvin   In reference to Message Id: 1150014


 Dirt Question

Yeah, you are definitely going to need more than 500 lbs. It takes a whole 400 lbs just to fill up my four foot ackie trough a foot deep. Since it is for such a large lizard, you may look into ordering a dump truck full of topsoil/fill dirt/sandy loam from a nursery or landscaping place. Just make sure that it is very low in clay content before ordering a bunch of it, since the lizard may not use it otherwise.

Whatís weird is that I was going to go get some of that stuff tonight at Loweís. However, we couldnít find any (didnít look extensively), so we are going back tomorrow to look for that or something similar. I have tried this stuff mixed with all kinds of sand, vermiculite (even Pro Exoticís 50/25/25 mix), peat, etc. and have found that it worked best and was used the most (some of the others werenít used at all) on its own. I now think that the sand I have been trying had been too coarse. If you can find some really fine sand, then you may consider mixing it in. But even if it is too coarse for my ackies, I donít think that larger lizards are as picky as dwarfs are about the grain of the soil.

About packing, I remember the animals using it most after it had dried out a little and then I loosened it back up. I believe that they package that stuff with too much moisture for lizards, so you may want to poke some holes in the bags while you wait on it to warm up. If it dries out too much, you can always add some more moisture.

Wow, sorry about some of the sloppy context. I am pretty tired.

Ryan



01/27/07  11:21pm

 #1150411


Ghrim
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  Message To: Field_Herper   In reference to Message Id: 1150367


 Dirt Question

Hello, im new to the site and am wanting to put dirt in my Black Roughneck Monitorís cage. I have heard conflicting views of what to use, i heard dirt from outside is best because of the bacterias in it, but i also heard that you should bake the dirt before you use it to remove all the bacteria and disease. Also, if i were to use dirt from outside, should i run it through a filter to get out the rocks and sticks, or leave them in?

Or should i by topsoil from a store? I am not getting dirt for him to burrow in, im just using it for better traction on the ground, right now i have bark on top of a melamine wood cage, so he is slipping a lot.

Also, since im not using it for him to burrow in, does it matter if i mix it with sand/peat/Leaves??


Any help would be greatly appreciated.



01/28/07  12:13am

 #1150500


Sidbarvin
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  Message To: Ghrim   In reference to Message Id: 1150411


 Dirt Question

Welcome Ghrim, Iím not really too familliar with Black Roughnecks but some of the other members on this site really know their stuff. The advice Iíve been given has really done my animals good.

Ryan, I had to go outside at Loweís (it was like 10*F) and pull the shrink-wrap off of pallets untill I found mine. Ive gone back and forth about soil mix and came to the conclusion that the dirt I bought will do. I blasted some heat on it to dry it out a little and played in it a while. It seems pretty good. I dug some tunnels in it they held up ok. Tomorrow Iíll rob the sand from my kids sand-box and mix it in.
He wont miss it untill spring.

Roger



01/28/07  02:25am

 #1150726


Field_Herper
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  Message To: Sidbarvin   In reference to Message Id: 1150500


 Dirt Question

Hah, it was only in the 30s and 40s here, but still cold. I have also gone back and forth between probably 10 or so different soils/soil mixes, each yielding different results. The first one I tried (well, a peat/sand mix when they were younger) was a clay based substrate (hey, it holds a burrow good right?), which, while it was kind of cool looking like Pro Exoticís decomposed granite, it was too difficult to dig through and when it finally dried out enough to dig through would no longer hold a burrow. Then I tried this pure topsoil and got decent results. I think I then added some of the clay soil to it to see if I could break down some of the fecal matter faster, but then they would no longer use it so I added in some sand and peat. Well, I threw that out, and have tried soils varying in levels of sand and topsoil, and in this current mixture, vermiculite. One of the 50/50 topsoil/sand mixtures yielded a little burrowing, but dried out way too quickly to basically sand in the first couple inches around the basking area. Now, I am going to try this pure topsoil again.

Anyway, sorry to drone on about dirt. Before you mix the sand in, just make sure that it is really fine, almost a silty type of sand. Good luck.

Ryan



01/28/07  10:56am

 #1151623


Sidbarvin
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  Message To: Field_Herper   In reference to Message Id: 1150726


 Dirt Question

Drone on Ryan! It might save me some sweat. I only put about 100# of sand in and I only mixed it with the top 4 or 5 inches. I packed it down a little, not much and dug a tunnel up to my elbow. That was yesterday and itís still there. I guess when the little monster starts doing his thing in there that will be the real test.

Roger



01/28/07  10:12pm

 #1151702


Field_Herper
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  Message To: Sidbarvin   In reference to Message Id: 1151623


 Dirt Question

I went and got some soil today and thoroughly wish that I had chosen different bags than I did. About half of the bags that I got have the right amount of moisture in them (maybe a little less), but the other half arenít even currently usable. There is so much moisture that they would come out in a solid chunk if removed from the bag, and one of them is so moist that there is standing water in the bag. So, there is currently only about half of the amount that I want in the cage right now. I guess I am going to have to wait a few days to mix in the other bags. In the meantime, they already seem to like it better, and show signs of wanting to burrow.

Yes, the real test is if the animal will use it. Most of the soil mixes (most soils will with the right amount of moisture) I have tried have held a burrow, but the animals wouldnít use it. I made up a vast number of hypothesises (Sp?) about why they wouldnít do so, with my current one being about the grain size of the sand I used. If I feel the need, I may go on the hunt for a really fine sand to mix in with this stuff, but only if the animals donít use it. Another thing that I have wanted to try is mixing in that red Exo-Terra desert sand (supposed to be real Kalahari desert sand). Not only would it make the cage quite nice looking, but I have seen it work for other people. But it is so dang expensive!!!

Anyway, I will say again good luck with getting your animal to use your soil. Hopefully you will get it right on the first try. I hope you donít go through the frustration that I have going through soil mixes. The only good experience about it has been the exercise on my upper body. I can only imagine what it must be like trying it on that Nile cage!

Cheers,
Ryan



01/28/07  10:59pm

 #1151774


Sidbarvin
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  Message To: Field_Herper   In reference to Message Id: 1151702


 Dirt Question

Iíll let you know what happens when I turn him loose in there. Also Iím going to try getting some good pics to post for some feedback before I put him in. I have another Nile that inhabits the whole room. I found him up on top of the cage today so I need to devise something to keep him off or a way to run wires so he doesnít come in contact with them. It was actually pretty cool because heís been more skittish than normal since Iíve been working in there and he just hung out right above me for a few minutes before bailing out. Usually he runs and hides when he hears the lock on the door turning. If Iím lucky I get to see the tip of his tail dissappear under a rock. I wonder how theyíll react when they are within eyeshot of oneanother. They havent gotten along in the past when put together. This way they cant get at eachother. Thanks for all the good info Ryan!

Take It Easy

Roger



01/28/07  11:53pm

 #1151787


Macklotspyth
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  Message To: Sidbarvin   In reference to Message Id: 1151774


 Dirt Question

Iím short on time and just scanned the thread, so I apolagize if this has already been mentioned.

I spent quite a bit of money to get the 1200 pounds of ídirtí for my monitors cage last winter. I went to the local Lowes and spent a lot of time picking out what I wanted. There wasnít much that didnít have fertalizer, seeds, etc. I found what looked good, but when I got it all in the cage and it dried out (it was snowing quite a bit at that time and the soil was in bags outside) it turned out to be horrible cage dirt. When it was wet, it packed down too hard and got somewhat muddy. (We actually ran a hose inside the house in order to water down the cages rather then lugging buckets of water back and forth) And when it was dry, it was dusty and loose.

When I do my next cage, Iím going to skip all of the íhome improvementí stores and just go to a landscaping supply place. There are quite a few of them in this area that have huge piles of dirt, gravel, etc.. Theyíll give you samples, help you find exactly the texture, moisture, and all around type of soil you need, and most of them deliver free. Since I had made that cage I talked to a few horse barn owners I know that had ordered dirt for arenas and the like, and all told me that they were offered quite a few samples of dirt and had a lot of choices. I donít recall having heard anyone on this thread ever mention buying dirt from such a place, so I thought Iíd mention it.

Anyone on here looking to set up a cage, if you havenít thought of these businesses, check it out! It saves a lot of money and a lot of headache on finding the right soil.


P.S. I also learned of the ídirt testí a friend of mine used for her horse arena. Her footing is amazing, and would be perfect for cages. It does pack down, but it doesnít get hard, and itís never dusty. She went through over a hundred samples before she got hers, and hereís what she did.
Each sample of dirt she was brought, she would wet it down into basically mud, then take a clump of it in her hand and squeeze her hand into a fist. Her íperfect dirtí that she eventually found would clump into a tight ball, without any of the water squeezing out between her fingers.



01/29/07  12:08am

 #1166456


Jayman429
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  Message To: Macklotspyth   In reference to Message Id: 1151787


 Dirt Question

Hey Folks,

Also new to the thread but have been watching for some time.
Reason is, I have a baby BT Monitor on the way(excited) and have been working on finding the right substrate for it. Ryan and Macklo have made some good descriptors for dirt and I hope Iím also on the right.

What I have found is some BC (Canada) topsoil that seems to have the right mix, has dirt, has the clay (for compaction) and holds some decent moisture. I have yet to experience going to the local landscape for a proper mix but it is winter and it was the best I could find from an extensive search.
Just to be sure I put in a piece of 3/4 melamine elevated to a height it could burrow under properly so that there can be no collapse. Iím sure the dirt will hold well as it holds enough moisture to make a mud ball without the water coming out and does not dry out too fast.
Iím in this thread so that I can ask for any suggestions you all may have before I get my enclosure built for itís growth. I plan to have a 2í bottom for borrowing and from what I have read that seems to be sufficient.
My plan is to have a 3W X 6H X 8L enclosure up to itís adulthood, can make adjustments if the bugger wants to get bigger.
Any thoughts any suggestions

Thanks

Jay



02/08/07  10:38pm


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