In this article, we will be taking a look at what we feel are the best types of sulcata tortoise bedding currently available on the market right now! Tortoises have seen a steady increase in popularity as pets over the last few years and this has lead to a direct increase in the number of tortoise owners reaching out for advice.
We have researched the various types of bedding that are commonly used for sulcata tortoise as well as researched the reputation of each of the bedding types. Although there are a whole bunch of popular beddings out there, we have decided to leave the majority off our list for various reasons and focus on cypress mulch, coco coir, and high-quality hays.
We then researched the market-leading products for each type of bedding and have settled on a total of five products that we feel will serve our readers best. In addition to covering each of the products in detail throughout the article, we will also be sharing a number of reviews and reports of them that have been left by other independent tortoise owners who either currently are or recently have used the product for their pet tortoise.
Zoo Med Forest Floor Bedding
Since its release onto the market, Zoo Med Forest Floor Bedding has managed to earn an excellent reputation and climb to become the market leading cypress mulch product on the market and shows little sign of being knocked off the top spot.
The image below shows a close-up of what Zoo Med Forest Floor Bedding looks like when out of the packaging.
It is an all natural product that is made from one hundred percent natural cypress mulch. In addition to being one of the highest rated products for sulcata tortoises, it is also very popular with owners of lizards, snakes, turtles, tarantulas, toads, frogs, salamanders, and a number of other animals.
When in use it offers your sulcata tortoise a natural forest-like base layer similar to what may be found in the wild. It also has the ability to retain a large amount of moisture while helping to provide some humidity to your tortoise.
Unlike some of the other cypress mulch products on the market right now, there is no need to bake or freeze the mulch to kill mites before using it. Zoo Med has a strict production and processing system to prevent mites from taking hold of the mulch before shipping.
There are multiple reports online that confirm that this is a soft mulch that easily covers the base of their terrarium without issue. It is easy to see and leftover food or tortoise poop on top of the mulch to allow for easy cleaning for you making your job just that little bit easier without the need for any additional work on your end.
The slightly higher humidity of the mulch is ideal for your sulcata tortoise, especially younger tortoises and easily beats the pellet based beddings our there. Tortoises seem to love the product with many third-party tortoise owners reporting that their tortoise likes digging in it and covering itself in the mulch.
The video below shows a third-party overview of Zoo Med Forest Floor Bedding.
Kempf Compressed Coco Fiber
The product was actually designed to be a potting mix or a worm bed starter for gardeners but it quickly managed to gain popularity with tortoise owners. In addition to this, it has also proven very popular with people who own snakes, frogs, and various other animals.
A single brick of Kempf Compressed Coco Fiber can expand out to a total of seventeen gallons making it the ideal baselayer for your tortoise if space is an issue for you. Additionally, coco coir is able to retain a surprisingly large amount of water for its size while also being naturally mildew resistant helping you be able to keep it in your terrarium longer.
Although the effectiveness of its natural bug repellant abilities depends on your location and the local bug types, it has proven very effective at keeping bugs out of your terrarium.
Triumph Plant Coco Coir Bricks
Triumph Plant Coco Coir Bricks is the perfect product for the environmentally conscious tortoise owners out there. The coconuts used to make it are farmed in a totally ethical and sustainable way that does not cause any environmental damage.
The image below shows what Triumph Plant Coco Coir Bricks looks like when you break it out of its brick.
The coco coir offers an odorless base layer for your terrarium that is low in salts and free from all pesticides. It is also very easy to break off the brick with your fingers to top up your terrarium as and when required. Although some people do soak the brick before putting the coconut fiber into their terrarium, this can have a direct effect on the immediate humidity for your tortoise so be sure to keep that in mind.
Although there have been some reports of sulcata tortoises eating coco coir in their terrariums. The general oppinion seems to be that provided your tortoise is well hydrated, it will be able to pass the coconut fiber naturally without any issues at all.
Galapagos Cypress Tank Mulch
As you will probably expect, Galapagos Cypress Tank Mulch has a very high absorbency level that you can also use to your advantage to help control the humidity in your Sulcata Tortoises terrarium. The shade and texture of this base layer makes it very easy for you to see any of your tortoises waste or leftover food allowing for a quick and easy clean up when required to help keep your tortoises terrarium clean, safe, and healthy.
The image below shows what Galapagos Cypress Tank Mulch looks like close up when out of the bag.
The mulch is farmed in a totally ethical way on sustainable farms to minimize any possible effect on the local environments while still being able to offer you the highest quality product available that is as cheap as possible.
The farming, production, and packaging process have all been designed to be free from all chemicals and oils to make sure the mulch is perfect for the end user and their pet tortoise. Additionally, before shipping, the mulch is treated to ensure that it is free from any parasites such as mites that can be found in some competing products on the market.
Although there has been a bit of back and forth on if cypress mulch is safe for a sulcata tortoise the community seems to have settled on it being totally safe and one of the best widely available beddings suitable for sulcata tortoises right now.
Additionally, there has been some discussion on why some sulcata tortoises choose to eat parts of their cypress mulch bedding but the general consensus seems to be that it is just your tortoise trying out something new and that most tortoises will just grow out of it as they realize it does not taste as good as their main feed.
That said, depending on what you choose to feed your sulcata, it may end up consuming a small amount of the cypress mulch as it eats its food but this is nothing to worry about.
Kaytee Timothy Hay
A thing to note with timothy hay is that some tortoise owners will use it as a hybrid between a bedding and a food substitute for their pets so be sure to keep the levels of hay in your terrarium topped up if your tortoise does take to eating the hay. That said, some tortoise owners say that they have used hay as a bedding and never seen their pets eat it or even take a bite so it does seem like this comes down to each individual tortoise.
The image below shows what timothy hay will look like when out of its bag and in your terrarium.
Kaytee Timothy Hay is made up of a blend of first and second cut high western timothy hay. It was primarily designed for use with pets such as chinchillas, rabbits, and guinea pigs but some sulcata tortoise owners have taken to using it as their go-to bedding for their pets.
Although a small factor when using timothy hay as a bedding, the hay is manually checked before shipping to ensure that you are getting a highly nutritious hay that has the ideal stem to lead ratio. If you do have a sulcata tortoise that chooses to eat some of the hay then the low calcium in the hay helps to support urinary health in your tortoise while the hay itself helps to support a healthy digestive system.
Types Of Bedding To Avoid
We feel that any of the beddings covered above will serve your sulcata tortoise well but we would just like to touch on some beddings that we saw people recommending while researching this article that we feel you should avoid at all costs!
These beddings are:-
- Alfalfa Hay
While researching this article, we noticed a number of people recommending the use of sand as a bedding substance for tortoise owners. Although sand does allow for digging it can potentially cause a problem if digested by your tortoise. Over time, this can lead to impactation in your tortoise and potentially even dead so we would not recommend the use of sand!
Although rare, we did see a number of people recommending the use of either regular carpet or reptile carpets as a bedding/base layer for sulcata tortoise. We would not recommend this as it tends to be harder for your tortoise, does not allow for any form of digging and can also present problems with the humidity of your terrarium.
We noticed a number of people recommending other tortoise owners use alfalfa hay as a bedding material for their tortoises. We would not recommend this due to the higher protein content of alfalfa hay when compared to other hays such as timothy hay.
Thankfully, we were able to see members of the tortoise owning community who also felt the same and are voicing their opinions and increasing awareness of this.