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 Post subject: Vermiclate water ratio
PostPosted: May 5th, 2017, 4:47 am 

Joined: June 17th, 2010, 4:51 am
Posts: 350
Location: CT
Question for people that use vermiculate: Do you do the 1:1 weight ratio? I just weighed it out for the first time in m y life for some snake eggs and it is way drier than I have ever used before. I would ususally just wet it down and then squeeze out thw the water. I didnt have success with this particular species so I figured I would try it "by the book" this time. I weighed it out twice to see if I messed up the first time but it is still very dry. My theory to my lack of success with the species ( and a species og lizard) was that I made it too wet because I had a bunch of dead almost full term babies in the egg.


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 Post subject: Re: Vermiclate water ratio
PostPosted: May 5th, 2017, 5:18 am 
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Joined: October 18th, 2011, 12:03 pm
Posts: 3948
Location: San Francisco, California
You can do it by the book rough measure but if you dont like what you feel for your purpose make adjustments to your own judgement.

Materials particulate, as reactive to water as vermiculite can vary depending on the batch, whether its been used before, dried, has residues of past hatches, the amount of dust, top of the Coarse bag, bottom of the Coarse bag. etc. Trust your judgement its good.

Squeezing the verm can wear it out though. If you feel its too wet add more verm instead. Let it settle and fully 'ripen' ie, expand before you set your eggs.


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 Post subject: Re: Vermiclate water ratio
PostPosted: May 5th, 2017, 12:58 pm 
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Joined: October 18th, 2011, 12:03 pm
Posts: 3948
Location: San Francisco, California
If you mix it, close it, let it finish, and a line of fog presents along the margin of the verm bed through the tupperware it should be moist enough.

Some patchy areas of faint condensation seen against tupp wall at verm depth may also appear when it is put to temp.

A better assessment comes when you let it finish up, even if you use a gauge. Compressing a fist of verm is ok for a test but its not the greatest way to correct the whole bed.

Thanks for posting this keep us in the loop about your guys.


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 Post subject: Re: Vermiclate water ratio
PostPosted: June 20th, 2017, 7:09 am 

Joined: July 2nd, 2010, 5:48 pm
Posts: 682
Location: AZ.
Kfen,

I use vermiculite and Yes, I am very old school in so many ways... I usually go about 0.8:1 water to vermiculite, in other words, a little dryer than the often quoted and generally successful 1:1 ratio. I believe dryer within limits is better, and a zoo keeper in Texas (name escapes me or I would give him full credit) kept some pretty good records to corroborate that conclusion. He found larger average hatch weights in eggs of Andean milk snakes incubated that way relative to the 1:1 as I recall from years ago reading about it.

As Kelly indicates, lots of matter/mass can accumulate in vermiculite if re-used. To be thorough, I suggest baking the vermiculite in an oven to drive away much of the moisture, then weigh it and mix with water. I also suggest using clean, unused vermiculite. I try to use the Agriculture grade coarse type, which I buy in large bags from a green house supply company. Sometimes hard to find on short notice. By using clean and baked product without other organic matter, I think you decrease opportunistic molds/fungi.

Viable eggs are durable, and they survive the blunders we make. However, evidence shows the right humidity helps and may make the difference. Over the decades I find dryer is often better with the species I work with. I am sure endless exceptions, but avoid dynamic water that is condensing and "raining" down. If you see it, use paper toweling remove it. I constantly fight the urge to add more water... Some real competent folks seem to be using clay products rather than vermiculite now days, so that too is worth considering. Good luck, Vic


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 Post subject: Re: Vermiclate water ratio
PostPosted: June 20th, 2017, 8:32 am 

Joined: December 3rd, 2010, 12:06 pm
Posts: 1652
Vic when you say clay products, do you mean something like Turface? Or finer grades of LECA? Surely not cat litter?

Just curious. I haven't dealt with an egg in a coon's age, and I like it that way, but I do like to keep abreast of current and emerging "general husbandry practices".

cheers


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 Post subject: Re: Vermiclate water ratio
PostPosted: June 20th, 2017, 10:04 am 

Joined: July 2nd, 2010, 5:48 pm
Posts: 682
Location: AZ.
HI JImi,
I am referring to clay product marketed for reptile eggs... H***hrite(?). Also a product from Germany called "Semanis" or similar (?). It is popular with the Heloderma breeders I am told... they have long incubation times and the clay seems to hold water and the resulting humidity for a long time. It is also popular with gecko breeders I am told.

To be clear, I have no personal experience with it, but I am considering it. Vermiculite has worked well for me for decades, so "don't fix it if it ain't broke", may apply, but also the adage we should all constantly strive to improve our game.

BTW, I took your advice and started breeding African House snakes, they are remarkably fecund and perhaps the easiest to keep snake I have ever seen. They are fun, like little pythons, I am surprised they are Colubrids... Vic


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 Post subject: Re: Vermiclate water ratio
PostPosted: June 20th, 2017, 12:35 pm 
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Joined: October 18th, 2011, 12:03 pm
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Location: San Francisco, California
The "Short Notice" per supply Vic mentioned has often happened to me (ie; eggs happen) and having a problem finding vermiculite was something I ran into, there was one year in particular I couldnt find any, anywhere and it was before I was oriented to 'going online' to buy stuff.

So yes I have re used verm. I rinse it and was lucky enough to have a window at work that opened and received full, dense sunshine. So I would put it there to dry. That particular window, opening like that, and spilling forth its rich goodness was responsible for infusing a couple of discarded, stunted chain store and reptile show chameleons the will to live, as I put a screen sided enclosure cornered by it for that occasional purpose. It occured enough to eventually warrant it. It was my "Magic Window" lol.

Back to topic I have on a slam re-used unrinsed verm - just had to - so many hours and things happening swiftly through the day. But it rinses easily and it is resilient but not without structural limits, like most matter.


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 Post subject: Re: Vermiclate water ratio
PostPosted: June 20th, 2017, 12:50 pm 

Joined: December 3rd, 2010, 12:06 pm
Posts: 1652
Quote:
clay product marketed for reptile eggs...


Well, here's to failing miserably at keeping abreast of emerging husbandry practices! Ha ha.

So I looked it up and the reptile products look a lot like Turface ("turf ace") - a calcined clay http://www.turface.com/products/infield-conditioners/mvp used in baseball fields and putting greens, and also increasingly in e.g., naturalistic vivaria & orchid culture for its well-draining but humidity-preserving qualities.

Except Turface comes in big bags (e.g., 50#) and costs less than a buck a pound. And you can get bags locally at your big box stores. Reptile products come in small bags and cost 3 to 5 bucks a pound. And mostly you need to have them shipped to your house.

Maybe you could start by experimenting with clutches out of e.g., your kings and hogs? No loss, no sweat if it doesn't pan out?

Quote:
African House snakes...remarkably fecund and perhaps the easiest to keep snake


Yeah. Cool. How are they performing as feeders for the indigo hatchlings? I have always imagined them as feeders for small ophiophages like Sonoran coral snakes. One breeder pair of Lamprophis - double or even triple clutched - could supply a little coral snake with food all year. Just using hatchlings with a fat yolk supply, and costing zero pinkies.

Hey I will be down again this August. Probably mostly hanging around Patagonia. Might give you a holler, drop you some DOR atrox?

cheers


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 Post subject: Re: Vermiclate water ratio
PostPosted: June 20th, 2017, 1:36 pm 

Joined: July 2nd, 2010, 5:48 pm
Posts: 682
Location: AZ.
Jimi and others, that may well be, I really do not know the source. But I do know orchid growers use it also, in fact, the innovative European keepers thought to use it for reptile eggs I think. I will look into it...and give it a go, as I have lots of eggs. Egg incubation is so basic as evidenced by millions of years of breeding...but we continue to learn and try new things. H...hrite is OK in my experience, it is great for beginners as it is ready to go out of the bag, no need to add water. Not cheap...so your Turface idea catches my attention. I suspect it is same or similar.

I am trying to buy some of the German mined clay product, but currently none available in USA that I know of. The beauty of eggs is a lot of different methods work IF you have viable eggs, they are resilient. But some work better than others and some eggs are so precious it is heartbreaking to lose one due to a keeper err, wrong choice. I tried SIMS method like many python breeders favor, but I quickly lost eggs, so went back to my tried and true Vermiculite method.

Kelly and others, I find coarse grade agricultural vermiculite available from green house suppliers, and buy large bags.

Vic


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 Post subject: Re: Vermiclate water ratio
PostPosted: August 7th, 2017, 5:05 pm 

Joined: June 17th, 2010, 4:51 am
Posts: 350
Location: CT
Update:
Thanks for the advice everyone. Unfortunately I didn't fully take it. I made it drier than in the past, but I still went above the 1:1 ratio with water. I just cant believe how dry 1:1 is. I just went over a friends house and felt up his vermiculite that he made up and has success with, and yup, way drier than I ever thought. Of the 6 eggs that went full term, 3 hatched and 3 were dead in the egg. I'm hoping that it was still just too wet and I can correct it next year and that there aren't other issues I need to work out. Here is one of the little ones:

Rhadinophis frenata

Attachment:
frenata.jpg
frenata.jpg [ 184 KiB | Viewed 849 times ]


So I think the reason the wet vermiculite worked for me in the past was I never covered the eggs. They would just sit in a bowl in the incubator uncovered. It was silly that I never covered them because hatchling snakes would be all over the incubator and crawling over other eggs but I am thinking that was what allowed me to be successful even with my error.


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 Post subject: Re: Vermiclate water ratio
PostPosted: August 16th, 2017, 11:29 am 
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Joined: October 18th, 2011, 12:03 pm
Posts: 3948
Location: San Francisco, California
I think its great. Ive never seen a baby one of those.

You always share important input Kfen.

I am always hoping you will post more. You're kind of a tease :D


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 Post subject: Re: Vermiclate water ratio
PostPosted: September 30th, 2017, 6:23 am 

Joined: June 2nd, 2012, 5:35 am
Posts: 7
I have successfully hatched corn, yellow rat, and kingsnake snake eggs as well as painted and soft-shell turtle eggs using the following method. I use a 1:1 vermiculite mixture by weight. I also weigh the container to get a final weight of container + vermiuclite+water+eggs. Water evaporates over time especially in my snake room at 82 F where I incubate the eggs. I weigh the container every week and note the loss in weight in grams. Using a graduated cylinder I add back the lost water to the vermiculite. My success rate is >95 % of eggs incubated hatching.


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