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Reptiles/Ground English Walnut Shell Substrate

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Question
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!
-Josef

Answer
Josef, thanks for your question. I personally don't recommend either substrate that you use if I am honest. The calci-sand is known to bind up in reptiles when eaten. The walnut shell can swell and is as you mentioned often times sharp. I used washed play sand for all my desert dwelling reptiles. Here is a link to an article where I break down all the substrates that I use http://bit.ly/WCCasE

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John F Taylor

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I can answer most questions about captive the captive care of reptiles,amphibians, and insects.

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International and nationally published author of many captive reptile care articles. Former editor of the San Diego Herpetological Society Newsletter. Founder of Southern California Wildlife. Most recently opened the website www.reptileapartment.com to answer questions instantly and share free care articles on the captive care of reptile and insect species.

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Reptilia, Reptiles Magagazine, TFH Publications Complete Herp Care Series Uromastyx

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Over a decade of experience within the reptile industry.

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