Vermiculite or perlite incubation substrate? What are the pros and cons. which is best? Or something else like expensive specialised reptile incubation substrate. ((I would need a lot of convincing for that last one)
I use vermiculite but only because I got a big bag of it at first. Most breeders use perlite. There isn’t a huge difference between the two. I’ve heard good things about a brown-ish substrate (I don’t remember what it’s called but it’s like an aquarium substrate or something). It changes color so you can tell the moisture level.
I have and continue to use both, sometimes mixed together. It all depends on what’s available when I need it, this summer for instance I had difficulty finding vermiculite so used perlite or combo to spread it out more. I’ve even used very damp coco bloc/eco earth in a pinch. Some people use just straight water w sponges. I haven’t seen any difference between any of them pro or con wise. You can use anything that holds moisture well w/o molding to keep humidity up. I’ve contemplated experimenting w silicone gel types like Orbis or even the new pretty litter just to see but haven’t yet.
I also don’t have my eggs in direct contact w the incubation medium, I use a light diffuser grid(easy hatch trays etc) to separate and honestly keep it a bit more moist than I could if placed directly on it so I don’t need ti worry about drops in humidity throughout incubation and no fiddling w the tubs part way thru. I find perlite seems to stay wetter but that could just be my ratios. I don’t measure or weigh just eyeball and hand test to my liking. I’ve never used it but I get the impression that premixed substrate like HatchRite is just perlite w water already added.
Just like w temps(I prefer 86/87 range but have gone 85-90), we are learning that there is much more flexibility to these things then originally thought. To each there own as long as it works and the animals come out healthy. I think Travis has 1 of the most unusual but obviously effective incubation methods, I love the sound of his setup, just don’t want to go back and completely convert everything I already have and been using effectively.
Same I do that now. Previously with other snakes I used to not use defuses, The only benefit there was i could make a grove in the substrate so the eggs would not role. But I can compensate for rolling with a few sticks.
Yes that makes things easier. I don’t have to worry about precise temperatures if I err on the cooler side.
The purpose of substrate in the egg box when using a an egg tray or a light diffuser is to avoid water getting onto the eggs. You could simply put water in the tub below the tray and they would do just fine but there is a good chance that as you move the tub around water will splash up onto the eggs. Substrate buffers that out.
It’s a little odd to me that many breeders stress over very specific ratios of water to substrate. I get that once you get into a routine it’s hard to move away from because you know it works. I personally put some substrate in the tub (perlite) and load it up with water. Outside of improper temperatures the worst case scenario is lack of water drying out the eggs. Plenty of water, substrate to keep things from splashing around, press n’seal (eliminating the chance for evaporation/humidity leaks), and proper temperatures ensure things will go well IMO. I dont think the substrate you use really matters as long as it does its job stopping water from splashing up on the eggs and doesn’t introduce bacteria etc to the environment.
@osbornereptiles is that the same as sphagnum moss? I used to ue that for boxes for colubrid to lay eggs in then move to vermiculite.
@biologicalcanvas Also something that always worked for me without light diffuser grids or specialised trays, was to make a hole in the egg incubation box about in the middle of the substrate.
I would fill the tub with water and anything over that level would drain out the hole. That way there was no chance that the egg would sit in water. The egg box also had a reservoir of water that would last until hatching. That worked for hundreds of colubrids, but not sure if ball pythons needs are different.
I use to do the perlite method with the diffuser sheet. I basically followed @stewart_reptiles “Easy, fool proof egg setup” thread that she created. I had no issues with it for my entire first season. All of my eggs hatched, and it truly was easy and fool proof.
However, I changed to Hatchrite this year due to my move. I knew I was going to have eggs in the incubator when we moved to our home, and I had asked on IG what the best method to transport these eggs would be. I knew that I could use the oerlite and difusser sheet method because the eggs would move in transport (it’s an extremely bumpy road).
I had Dave from Hardy Pythons reach out to me about Hatchrite and how to use it. I liked that I could bury the eggs somewhat in the hatchrite without issue. The eggs survived the move, and I had one clutch (my monsoon clutch) that didn’t but the other clutch did, and it was a lot easier for me imo to use Hatchrite. I’ve been using it this entire season and haven’t had an issue at all. I’m still slightly burying the eggs as well. Dave mentioned that he puts a small dropet of water in the corners just for extra humidity if needed, and I’ve done that 50/50 on my tubs (still haven’t had an issue).
Makes sense that the temp isnt super important, if you think in nature how realistic would it be for a cold blooded animal to be able to maintain the exact same temperature for 60 days or so…nature definitely built in some wiggle room for sure.
When I used to use it for egg laying boxes for my north american snakes, it would sometimes have other life form insect eggs that would hatch, I had to put vapona fly killer blocks in it to kill anything then let it air out for a week or so to remove the poisons. You must have higher quality product in the USA