Crushed Walnut Shells

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Crushed Walnut Shells

Postby cohiba4711 » Wed Nov 05, 2008 5:18 pm

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I don't see why crushed walnut shell substrate is such a bad thing. How can it be worse than sand, when unlike sand, it isn't tiny ROCKS? Is there some kind of crushed walnut shell substrate that is coarse or something? Because what i have pretty much is about the size of sand if not smaller. Also, on the package I bought it in, it listed many reptiles and other things that this substrate is good for, and isn't good for. Bearded dragons were listed as the most ideal animal to use this for... it seems like a good substrate to me??

Edit: Yes everyone, i have seen the autopsy, but that looks like it is as coarse as rock salt! i have very fine crushed walnut shells, and if that is still bad, how can sand not be bad?
Last edited by cohiba4711 on Wed Nov 05, 2008 6:42 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Crushed Walnut Shells

Postby diamc » Wed Nov 05, 2008 5:39 pm

Ground walnut shells are a dangerous substrate for bearded dragons. it is made of tons of tiny sharp little cubes, like safety glass when broken. It can get stuck in his digestive system or even worse, cut his insides when ingested.

Here is a site that shows images of a bearded dragon that died via crushed walnut shells, its an autopsy.

http://mrskingsbioweb.com/beardeddragngrossanatomy.htm
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Re: Crushed Walnut Shells

Postby dolphinsilversea01 » Thu Nov 06, 2008 7:47 pm

When I adopted Spike he came in and with the crushed walnut shells. I do understand where you are coming from - it seems very fine and somewhat soft as you run your hands through it. After reading a few things about it, here and other places, I took a closer look at it and there are many pieces with small sharp edges. If you put it inbetween your fingers and squeeze - just lightly - it kinda hurts! You can feel the sharpness.
I put alot of thought into changing Spike's substrate. A thought I had: so one beardie passed possibly due to the crushed shells, it can't be as bad as sand. But, the fact of the matter when it comes down to it - do you really want to put your beardie in possible danger? And to kind of exclude the fact alone, there are just so many other positive reasons for using something else. Personally at the moment I use carpet. I have used outdoor carpet in green and brown, reptile carpet, and he is presently on a tight nitted carpet used for like indoor porches and such. It overall has looked better, it is so much easier to clean. And although I am sure he would enjoy something to dig into (I put a fleece blanket in his tank for this), he enjoys the carpet much more. I know this because he moves around alot better, and since removing the shells he even acts healthier. Not to mention the other choices are cheaper too! I haven't tried the tile and such, but I am sure it stands as pretty much the same as far as cleaning, health, etc.

When it comes down to it - it is your pesonal choice. Just consider your other options, even give something else a try - you may just llike something else better.
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Re: Crushed Walnut Shells

Postby cohiba4711 » Thu Nov 06, 2008 10:49 pm

Well I do have a separate part of the tank custom fitted with an upside down shoebox lid where none of it gets in and where she is usually fed. I guess Zilla's just gonna have to live on the edge haha! If i ever did see any sign of discomfort from her though like leg stretching I would definitely change it right away.
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Re: Crushed Walnut Shells

Postby Ethelia » Fri Nov 07, 2008 3:38 am

Impaction is painful and can be fatal.
You might not notice things until its too late.

Its not worth the risk.
Simple as that.
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Re: Crushed Walnut Shells

Postby diamc » Fri Nov 07, 2008 6:15 pm

cohiba4711 wrote:Well I do have a separate part of the tank custom fitted with an upside down shoebox lid where none of it gets in and where she is usually fed. I guess Zilla's just gonna have to live on the edge haha! If i ever did see any sign of discomfort from her though like leg stretching I would definitely change it right away.

It's true, by the time you see signs of discomfort, it may be too late because beardies don't show any signs of problems until it is well advanced. But, it sounds like your mind is made up & you're going to continue using the walnut shells, so there's nothing more we can do, but warn you of the risks. :(
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Re: Crushed Walnut Shells

Postby bmmst1 » Sat Nov 08, 2008 6:29 pm

i use crushed walnut shells. just be sure to feed them out off the enclosure, that what i do and never have had a problem of FC getting any in his mouth, hes not a licker.
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Re: Crushed Walnut Shells

Postby renich » Sun Nov 09, 2008 8:48 am

i don't have much to add. after reading this post, i thought i would comment my agreement with diamc and ethelia that crushed walnut shells are highly not recommended. just imagine zilla chasing a cricket and missing, but she gets a piece of one of the sharp shells and swallows it. impaction may be the least of your worries if the shell cuts her as she swallows it.

just something to think about.
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Re: Crushed Walnut Shells

Postby npedersen » Sun Nov 09, 2008 9:29 am

See, I agree with both sides. Just here me out. The manufacture advertises these products as ideal or prefered for a given species. If they saw a risk or had true evidence I am sure they would change there advertising or marketing strategy. And if they only did it for money, then it would say all lizard substrate or works for all lizards and reptiles. If you feed them a balanced diet AND provide the correct heat, anything ingested will most likely pass with out harm and you would never even know it. Everyone says that if you use sand the only "safe" sand is washed and sifted play sand. However, the granuals are larger and inconsistant and contain silca sand, even if it doesn't say on the packaging it does. Just look up the MSDS for the sand, most say "through the manufacturing process this product has been known to contain silica compounds. . ." they don't have to put it on the package because they are sell silica sand. The marketed products are a much finer grain, and I have heard the argument that when it gets we t it clumps and hardens. Yes it clumps but breaks up while it is still wet, the sand never has a chance to dry out, obviously.

These type discussion drive me nuts, just like when people discuss lighting. "The ONLY UVB bulb that should be used is ReptiSun 10.0 all others have been known to cause eye problems". Apply alittle common sense and read the ENTIRE article or research. It is the coil bulbs by some manufactures that produce UVC in small amounts, if people would use them properly, as in providing the correct distances, it shouldn't be an issue.

If you use a "questionable" substrate and feed seperate, you will be fine. Use the correct setup. Temps need to be right, the correct balance of foods, meaning differant greens and insects and your beardie will be fine. If someone does not do this, they are caring for beardie incorrectly and need to re-evaluate whether they should have a BD as a pet. After all, proper care is what we are after, not having the temps right and the incorrect diet, what substrate you use is the least of your worries.

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Re: Crushed Walnut Shells

Postby diamc » Sun Nov 09, 2008 1:08 pm

Unfortunately, manufacturers do state that certain products are fine for them and don't change their advertising or marketing strategies. For example, here's what it says about calci-sand:
Calci-Sand

T-Rex Calci-Sand is the only substrate for reptiles designed to be not only ingestible, but digestible when swallowed. Calci-Sand clumps readily to wet waste material, drying it and preventing it from spreading. Available in 2 lb. and 5 lb. bags.

It doesn't mention that it builds up over time in their digestive tracts and that babies have a kink in their digestive tracts that makes it even harder to try to pass it. Also doesn't mention that it hardens like cement.
The crushed walnut shells do have jagged pieces that can cut them internally and even though an owner feeds in a different tank, a baby or a beardie that licks a lot would ingest it.

Here's some info about a coil UVB and it again says it is good for them and doesn't mention anything about dangerous UVC's. On this forum, we have heard time & time again about eye problems, lethargy, decreased appetites, etc and when we found out they were using a coil or compact UVB, once they changed it to a good one, the beardie improved sometimes even by the next day. The only proper way to use a coil or compact UVB is to either leave it in the box or return it to the store.
Coil UVB 7.0
Desert Reptile Compact Fluorescent Lamp
This lamp has a moderate to high UVB output as seen in shady environments like rainforest. Reptiles living in these habitats receive less UV radiation because of the many elements that prevent direct sunlight from striking animals and their basking sites. The humidity in these locations is fairly high which filters out some of the UV rays. Weather conditions vary during the day, so there is less sunshine # For reptiles with high UV requirement
# Ideal for all desert reptiles
# High UV output
# UVA (30%) stimulates appetite, activity and reproductive behavior
# UVB (7%) promotes Vitamin D3 synthesis
# Lifetime: 8,000 hours.
# Recommended in combination with Reptie

There are also some fluorescent UVB's that are absolutely useless as far as UV rays goes like this one:
ESU's DESERT 7% UVB FLUORESCENT 15 WATT WITH REFLECTOR T8

The Reptile Desert 7% UVB Daylight Fluorescent Lamp is a full-spectrum daylight lamp with 7% UVB output for proper calcium adsorption. It is ideal for desert species and all reptiles with high UV requirements. The Desert 7% UVB is reflectorized for high-intensity output.


So actually, even though an owner is feeding all the right foods and has accurate temps but is using a dangerous substrate or a coil/compact bulb, it continues to be very risky when it would actually be an "easy fix" by changing to a solid substrate and a good UVB light.

Thanks for bringing up those points and I think this is a good debate, good to get it all out in the open. :wink:
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Re: Crushed Walnut Shells

Postby npedersen » Sun Nov 09, 2008 1:44 pm

As far as the coil bulbs go, most manufactures have stopped production to find a phospherous that does not produce these rays, others have placed instructions that are more detailed to assist the owners for proper usage, how many actually read it though.

Is one bulb or setup better than others, absolutely. I use a T-Rex MVB which produces plenty of heat and UVB for a bearded dragon, but some I'm sure will chime in and say that the MegaRay is the only way to go, am I saying that it may not be, no, just that there is nothing wrong with it.

The autopsy on the beardie only states that crushed walnut shells were found to block passage. It gives no background as to care. By the looks of things AND the fact that the owner waited a month before bringing it to the vet, tells me neglect of care and probable poor care. It's like saying that I did everything right, I used a MVB bulb, temps were 110 in the basking area and around 80 in the cooler area, I used paper towel as a substrate. What happened, well did you feed it? There are plenty of people that have good intentions in the beginning and get the right products for the setup, but when it comes to care. . .well that is when the problems begin.

For someone who doesn't monitor their BD's health, it doesn't matter what substrate they use, it will not live very long. You can get impaction from the insects you feed, and yes any can cause it, if you don't follow simple guidelines for the age of the dragon you are feeding.

I recently had a little guy pass, I had the temps right, paper towel substrate and was feeding small crickets and phoenixworms, the phoenix worms as the staple, I offered greens everyday and gave a bath at least everyother day to every day. What went wrong, who knows, I force fed when he stopped eating, his fecal was negative and still he died.

Sometimes though when things happen and the impaction is to blame, you do get the usual "I did everyhting right", when in reality you find out that what they thought was right, was not, like temps and the type of diet.

Do I use crushed walnut, no, why, because there are better options out there.
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Re: Crushed Walnut Shells

Postby diamc » Sun Nov 09, 2008 2:07 pm

First let me say that I'm sorry to hear about your little guy's passing. It must be very hard not knowing what caused it. :( Sounds like he was very well cared for.

Regarding the coil/compact bulbs, it's good that some manufacturers have stopped production of them but I'm not sure that all the dangerous ones have been removed from the shelves though.

I use a T-Rex 100 watt in one of my tanks do and highly recommend this bulb although others prefer the Megaray although they are both very good & very similar.

It is true that unfortunately some owners don't do thorough research when it is a necessity in order to have a healthy beardie. It's also unfortunate that petstores give out a lot of wrong info perhaps because they don't have the knowledge.

I agree that there are much better options than using crushed walnut shells and it's not worth the risks.
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Re: Crushed Walnut Shells

Postby npedersen » Sun Nov 09, 2008 2:20 pm

This debate and many others is really proof positive that pet care in general, but reptiles specifically is really more than just ownership. You really have to treat it as research in a specific field. As with any hobby, you should research the heck out of it.

Thanks for the kind words, Puff will be missed.

Edit to add: As a side note I think it should be manditory for all that make a first time purchase of a reptile, should be required to buy, or the pet shop should supply, an appropriate care BOOK not a sheet.
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Re: Crushed Walnut Shells

Postby diamc » Sun Nov 09, 2008 2:26 pm

Oh, what a cute name, Puff.

I totally agree that the more research that is done, the better, can never stop learning. Beardies rely on their owners to take the best possible care of them that they can. It would be great if they could talk, but they sure do interact with us in many different ways to convey their needs/wants.
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Re: Crushed Walnut Shells

Postby dolphinsilversea01 » Sun Nov 09, 2008 3:36 pm

First I want to say that I am glad this post has not gone in a bad direction. Honestly had me kinda worried there for a bit. I am poud of all of us - when it comes to the care of something we love deeply sometimes people tend to get ... "moody". I haven't see that yet in this post and I have appreciated reading all sides of the opinions.

It is hard to care correctly when you don't have the correct information in the beginning. You all know how bad Petco was, thankfully they are changing. This has been done though by people communicating information, by people stepping up and letting their opinion and facts be known. You all seem to do a wonderul job of understanding that when a pet store employee gives out bad information, it isn't necessarily that they don't care - it is more the fact that they have been taught wrong. Again, people stepping up and letting knowledge be known is changing this - I am proof. Another thing we have to consider though, which I face sometimes myself, there is just so much different information out their! How do we know which is the correct information? On some issues their is great facts and information out their, on others it seems like more of an opinion thing. I have had Spike for ... I don't know ... a few months, and I know I am probably not doing things to the best of care, but I am doing things to the best of my knowledge at this time, and as I find out more information I change what is needed if needed.

I always write this place at the top of the caresheet (for all reptiles, because people here seem to know where info can be found if not about a beardie and if not here). I always inform people with all the information on proper care that I know, and if anyone is around who may know more I get them to tell what they know as well. I also tell them that they may want to do some research so they are sure and confident not only on how to care, but their choice on the pet. And yes, it would be nice to include a care book (I always suggest a book as well) and not just a care sheet. But, even if we were to do all the above plus that, there is just no gaurantee that the animal will get proper care. You those out their that just don't care, and you have those who care and do all that they know to give the animal its proper care.

As far as the point of this thread, it does come down to personal choice. After all the knowledge that can be obtained is, and the pro's and con's are pointed out, no one can make someone choose one thing over another. Just inform, give knowledge, share share share!!! Because without that, no personal choice will be changed no matter what the factors are.
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