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Reptiles/Ground English Walnut Shell Substrates


Hello, I breed my own Leopard Geckos and I currently use All Living Things brand of white Calcium Sand for a substrate for my three females that are in a 40 gallon reptile tank. I recently got a new tank that is the same size and I am debating on the substrate. I have never had any problems with the calcium sand that I am using now. It is not super fine and is about 1/5th to 1/8th of the size of aquarium gravel. My Geckos have never had a problem with it and seem to like the texture of it. In my new tank though, I have been thinking of putting Zilla's Desert Blend Ground English Walnut Shells. I know that there is crushed walnut shells out there that have sharp edges and that are much larger. The Ground walnut shell substrate that I am looking at using is fine and much smaller than the calcium sand I am using.

I wanted to know your perspective on what I should use. I don't like the look of slate or tile in the bigger terrariums just because i feel it takes away from the effect of the big open space for them to explore on and i feel that loose substrate would be much more comfortable than hard tile. Plus when they are gravid they wont have anywhere but a hide-box to dig around in. I feel that it gives the leopard gecko more freedom to dig around all over the cage and choose where to lay her eggs verses just giving her one option. I do use Repti-Carpet for the two ten gallon tanks I have for the hatchlings and the male to have a home in, though.

But anyways, I have heard a lot of debate about the bacteria buildup in the Ground Walnut Shell, as well as impactation, and eye problems. Now it seems like a lot of people see walnut shells and automatically thing crushed big pieces. This is not the case, what I will be using is the sand-like, Ground Walnut Shells.

Thank you for everything in advance!

Hello Josef,

Have you had any trouble with impactions, using the sand so far?
The walnut shell is attractive but does seem to contribute to impactions just like the sand does.  
My biggest problem with any loose substrate is the fact that bacteria can harbor in it which can cause trouble with worms & or parasites.

I also worry about possible impaction.
The repti carpet is fine, or you could look into green felt.  It looks really nice & is very easy to take care of & clean/wash it it.
You could make a small area on one end, with a partition or cardboard box, in which you placed the loose substrate if you wanted her to have an area to lay in.  Then, the rest of the tank would have solid particulate.

Let me know what you decided.



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Tracie Kretzschmar


I can answer questions pertaining to health, UVB specifics, overall husbandry care & supplementation, analysis of blood test results, and behavioral problems & handling. I can answer questions pertaining to bearded dragons, leopard geckos, iguanas, uromastyx & ball pythons. I can answer adeno virus related questions in bearded dragons, & then specifically about the testing methods as well. I am beginning an Pogona Adeno Testing Society in 2008 which will help to begin to start some standardization within the bearded dragon colonies of the breeders who choose to test.


I have been working with bearded dragons for over 5 years now, as well as leopard geckos, too. I am currently doing rescues, as well. I hope to be able to educate people prior to them purchasing an exotic pet in order to avoid any health crisis with them.

I have a master's degree in sports medicine & physiology, & 1 year of vet tech schooling, & am currently working on a reptile certification through the Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council.

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