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Substrate Based Enclosures


Roachman26
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Got some new questions. I've been using 18 gal. tubs with egg flats for all my sp. Now, however, I've acquired a few new sp. that I think require substrate. It seems like it would be a bad idea to leave egg flats resting on a moist substrate, so:

1. How does one "decorate" the enclosure? There are lots of old fallen trees around, but I don't know what species they are or if they are ok to use.

2. Whenever I find wood that looks "rotten" its often got fungus and/or lots of other critters in or on it. What treatment should it be given?

3. There are tons of dead leaves around. Can I just start grabbing handfuls, or do I have to be careful about which type I put in there?

4. I've got lots of Oak trees, fruit trees, and decorative trees around that I can guarantee are pesticide free. Is there an online place to find out about dead tree leaf toxicity? I went through this with the weeds in a 6000 sq.ft. outdoor tortoise enclosure, and it took several weeks to get answers. In the past I've just grabbed handfuls of whatever leaves were blowing around to hibernate reptiles in and never had a problem, but they weren't eating them.

5. The species in question are B. giganteus, B. fusca, A. tesselata and B. craniifer. Would anyone advise keeping any of these without substrate?

This is all new territory for me and I HATE learning the hard way. I take my responsibility to these animals very seriously and do not want to see them suffer or die because of my ignorance and inexperience.

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You probably don't want to have the substrate so wet for so long that you can’t use egg flats without them molding. As far as décor goes, in my natural type set ups I just use kind of curled bark and lean them against the tank walls and floor, so there are proper molting surfaces for maturing adults (pieces of driftwood also work). With leaves I think most of them are okay, as long as they have started to decay a little, fresh leaves aren’t good. I wouldn’t use any leaves that have a “chemical” smell to them (like pecans, eucalypts…) since those chemicals are usually have an antiherbivory function for the plant. I personally use all sort of leaves though oak being my ‘roaches favorite but also cottonwoods, aspen, ash, and beech (not preferred however).

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1. How does one "decorate" the enclosure? There are lots of old fallen trees around, but I don't know what species they are or if they are ok to use.

I use a mix of egg crates and dried out wood chunk and bark skins. Baking them in the oven at 350 for 30 minutes has worked for me, although I've also just skipped that step without ill effects.

2. Whenever I find wood that looks "rotten" its often got fungus and/or lots of other critters in or on it. What treatment should it be given?

Any process you'd use to kill the "critters" will usually kill the fungus; from my experience, if you put old, dried firewood in a substrate-filled tank with your roaches, it'll begin to culture its own stuff soon enough.

3. There are tons of dead leaves around. Can I just start grabbing handfuls, or do I have to be careful about which type I put in there?

Oak is by far the best type of leaf to use. Sugar maple is alright too, but it's just not as sturdy as oak leaves. Sycamore works well too, but in combination with the oak.

4. I've got lots of Oak trees, fruit trees, and decorative trees around that I can guarantee are pesticide free. Is there an online place to find out about dead tree leaf toxicity?

Avoid aromatic leaves and you're good.

5. The species in question are B. giganteus, B. fusca, A. tesselata and B. craniifer. Would anyone advise keeping any of these without substrate?

I keep B. giganteus on cypress mulch with dead oak leaves on top, B. fusca on the same, A. tesselata on their own frass (it breaks down relatively quickly when you feed them plenty of oak leaves,) and B. craniifer on a 4-5 inch deep mix of topsoil, vermiculite, coconut fiber/coir, and cypress mulch (with oak leaves on top.)

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Thanks for the replies. You guys are the best. Matt K, I'd love to see those pics. I'm not able to find them on my own. Can you remember the approximate time frame or any keywords?

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