View Full Version : Substrate recommendations for obligate burrowers.

j d caisey
21-07-11, 12:39 AM
Hi all,
I've recently acquired a ceratogyrus darlingi spiderling which I'm keeping on damp coir and the spider seems to be able to dig very stable burrows in it without a problem. What i want to know is if coir will still be ok when i let it dry out as the spider grows and doesn't need the higher humidity. I know Stan Schultz recommends a topsoil/coir mix for burrowers in the tarantula keepers guide but i'm a bit wary of using it in case it contains any nasty chemicals. Can anyone recommend a tried and tested brand? Any advice anyone can give me will be greatly appreciated.Thanks in advance everyone,John.

21-07-11, 07:51 AM
The coir seems to be working very well with my C. marshalli. Not had any problems with collapsed burrows yet. The stuff seems to be pretty stable. Plus they are prolific webbers and that probably helps to stabilize things.

j d caisey
21-07-11, 09:57 AM
Thanks for the reply ralf. Is your substrate bone dry?

21-07-11, 10:15 AM
I keep one side dry and one side moist- ish. Def seem to prefer the dry side. That is at room temperature.

Peter Bosznai
21-07-11, 12:27 PM
That's not surprising that it likes the dry side better for they came from Africa. The coir substrate is very good I think (but we use it only for slings), just take care of humidity, because if it dries out hard to moist again, it hardly absorbs it. We used a different substrate, I took from the dictionary, bit I think the English word for it is turf or peat. We use it for most of our spiders. But of course their webs make their burrows absolutely stable, I never observed any collapse.

21-07-11, 04:47 PM
Peter is right there, of course. They are from Africa. Zimbabwe and Mozambique I think. Not sure if those countries are very arid, though. Maybe more semi arid or semi humid? Probably changes through the year as well. Can anybody tell us?
What are other people doing? How do you keep your Ceratogyrus species?

Peter Roach
21-07-11, 07:25 PM
I keep my darlingi and marshalli in whatever is handy at the time. Ive got them on coir, peat, compost and topsoil and a mixture of all and any. IMHO it just doesnt matter what they are kept on, the spiders dont care either way.

j d caisey
21-07-11, 10:03 PM
Thanks for all the replies guys much appreciated. Guess i'll stick with coir then.

Stanley A. Schultz
21-07-11, 10:17 PM
... I know Stan Schultz recommends a topsoil/coir mix for burrowers in the tarantula keepers guide but i'm a bit wary of using it in case it contains any nasty chemicals. ...

The topsoil actually acts a lot like mortar to hold peat together. However, there are different kinds of topsoil and different qualities of peat. And, I actually have little experience with coir since it became popular only after we stopped actively keeping tarantulas. My suggestion would be to experiment a little with the coir. If it behaves as you want it, go with it. If it needs a bonding agent add a little topsoil.

In North America laws have been in place for decades that require that most pesticides have limited half lives. That is to say that they decompose in nature rather quickly into less toxic environmenticides. And I strongly suspect the same to be true where you live.

Instead, as time progresses we're gradually becoming more and more wary of "wild" dirt, even the natural and organic stuff sold for outrageous prices in natural food stores, because there are a bunch of natural and organic, infesting and/or infectious organisms coming along with it. Not the least of these are the infectious nematodes that crop up in the hobby from time to time. I suspect that all the pesticides we've been dumping on our dirt have actually been suppressing things like that!

... Can anyone recommend a tried and tested brand? ...

Of commercial topsoil? Search your local landscaping and garden supply centers. Look for anything that's been sterilized. The brand name is largely irrelevant since only one or two companies probably are packaging it and selling it to the multitude of brand name companies you're familiar with. "Today we package this stuff as "Reddy Dirt" for the guy in London. Tomorrow it's "Happy Soil" for a company in Manchester. It all comes from the same pit."

Don't obsess too much over the dirt. Go with whatever works. As a group, tarantulas and their precursors have seen, lived in, and survived a lot more different kinds of dirt than we'll ever be able to throw at them.

In fact, there is a small but sometimes vocal contingent of enthusiasts who ONLY use soil straight from their own gardens. And, they seem to be distressingly successful at keeping tarantulas in spite of all the presumed hazards. The late Robert Gale Breene III (American Tarantula Society) was one of these.

Enjoy your little 8-legged wonder!

j d caisey
22-07-11, 11:08 AM
Thanks for advice stan. I'll stick with coir for now and see how it performs as it dries out.