Pros: diggable, attractive, odor free, environmentally safe, easy to clean, turtle likes it
Cons: Package suggests also for bearded dragons.
Box turtle substrate considerations vary but a local small-animal vet recommended the bedding product, Bed-a-Beast Litter from Pet-Tech Reptile Products. Newspaper, peat moss, potting soil, play sand, grass carpet, pine shavings and shredded cardboard have all been used or considered, but this bedding products benefits make it an excellent choice for numerous reasons.
In setting up the turtle home it was important to provide some water, but the terrestrial turtle didnt require the water for swimming. We needed a substrate that wouldnt mold, that we could clean fecal matter from, that would allow digging, and that held moisture. Our box turtles indoor home is a very large aquarium, with his own light source. A flat rock provides a place for basking, occasional eating and toenail sharpening. A small log under the substrate provides a safe burrow space.
Newspaper tended to get moldy and definitely didnt allow digging.
Play sand didnt allow digging, waste removal was difficult and the sand got inside the shell and seemed hard on the eyes,
Pine shavings had oils that we learned were toxic and the wood tended to get moldy
Grass carpets didnt allow digging and it was difficult to clean, although a little can be helpful for cleaning litter out of turtle toes
Peat moss didnt hold the moisture like we hoped
Bed-A-Beast Litter is made from 100% compressed coconut shell fiber, its 100% natural. Before spreading this in your turtles habitat, soak the entire package in a bucket of really hot water for 30 minutes. The fiber will expand and when done, remove it, wring out excess moisture and then fluff it (by hand). The top surface dries with a slight crust, which prevents tracking. The flat stone in the tank works bedding out of the turtles toes when he walks across the surface. The highly compressed fiber expands to a volume seven to eight times the original packaged size.
Clean Up and Maintenance
Baby turtle waste would be difficult to find, however, our adult is relatively easy to find and clean up after. We clean this out completely on a monthly basis although we scoop every day, sometimes twice a day. Misting the enclosure keeps the substrate moist, but we need to keep an eye on the substrate under the water dish. It tends to stay damp under the dish and this has proven to be a site for mold growth. This substrate is essentially odor freeno hints of tropical beverages. When its time to completely clean the turtles litter, we dump it to the compost bin. This natural product decomposes and it attracts beneficial decomposing organisms.
The Bed-A-Beast can be used for a variety of small animals. It works for amphibians, iguanas, lizards, turtles, tarantulas, snakes and numerous other animals. (We used this once with our bearded dragons but they tended to get the fibers caught in their beards. Additionally any animals fed to the dragons disappeared in the bedding.) Im told this can also be used in container gardening when sphagnum peat moss is recommended.
This is available in blocks, disks, and three-packs. These really are highly compressed packages and a disk is sufficient for ten-gallon aquarium, a block works for a forty gallon aquarium. One block is 1.5 pounds and generally available for $3 to $5 per block or $6 to $10 for a three-pack.
Bed-A-Beast Litter has proven an environmentally friendly product, as well as a healthy and desirable substrate for our box turtle. Its also attractive. The packaging suggests this is useful for bearded dragons, but we were less impressed about this for them. We bought on the vet's recommendations for the turtle and only decided to try it on the dragons after reading the package. The turtle seems to enjoy having the place to dig during the winter months when we keep him inside. I suspect hes eager to return to his outside home, but for now hes managing just fine.