Best Substrate for Hermann Tortoise (2021) | Buying Guide and Reviews

by Carl Crane | Updated: April 3, 2021

Right from its state as an egg, to a hatchling and then an adult, a Hermann tortoise is in constant communication with the ground.

The state of the floor on which your tortoise stays is important to its lifestyle and comfort and so careful consideration has to be made when choosing a substrate.

That’s why we have this review of the best substrate for Hermann tortoise to help you make the best choice.

When choosing a substrate, note that it could either make your pet sick or improve its health and behavior.

A wet substrate can cause your tortoise to have shell rot and respiratory infections amongst other things.

While a dry substrate could cause dehydration.

The right substrate can help with humidity control and also encourage your Hermann tortoise to burrow.

Ultimately, your choice of a substrate should be one that’s best for your tortoise, the setup of your tortoise enclosure, temperature, and humidity levels.

It should also be one that doesn’t cause you any allergies.

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Complete Guide for Best Substrate for Hermann Tortoise

There are a lot of substrates that you can choose for your Hermann tortoise and this ranges from sand, wood, soil, and others.

Making the best choice can be difficult but to make it easier, you have to think of the natural environment your tortoise would live in the wild.

Since the aim is to make the artificial environment as close as possible to its natural one, using the same type of bedding would be the best thing to do.

The Best Substrate Types for A Hermann Tortoise

Soil and Sand

Considering the natural habitat of your Hermann tortoise and its lifestyle, the best type of substrate to use for it would be a mixture of soil and sand.

The soil would allow for digging and thermoregulation, while the presence of sand would help in humidity control.

Avoid using sand alone and always use it in combination with soil.

The mixture isn’t done randomly but in a proportion that depends on the area, you live in.

If you live in a humid environment, you might have to add a little more sand in the mixture than someone who lives in a dry area.

The mixture generally should be 75% to 85% of soil, and the remaining 15% to 25% should be of sand.

The soil you use should be free from fertilizers of any kind; 100% natural soil and the sand should be small and soft.

Coconut Fiber

In the warmer months, you can make use of coconut fiber as a substrate for your Hermann tortoise but with this, you would have to pay more attention to your pet.

If you leave them for too long, they can get molds so change them after a month or at most, two.

Don’t allow the fiber to get too dry as it can get dusty and cause problems for your pet.

Coconut fibers are not great substrates because a lot can go wrong if proper care isn’t taken.

They however are good with keeping the humidity levels high in the warmer months, so if you can put in the extra effort while using them, then you can.

Substrates for Hermann Tortoise That You Should Avoid


Wood should be avoided at all costs because of the many dangers that are associated with its use.

Your Hermann tortoise could get stung by wood splinters, or they could ingest it mistakenly leading to life-threatening conditions.

Substrates made of wood that are in the basking area could also catch fire.

Pine and Cedar

Pine and cedar even though are wood, are an even more dangerous option. They are toxic for your Hermann tortoise and even without ingesting it, they could have negative effects on your tortoise by just being around them.


Sand is one of the most commonly sold substrates in pet shops.

They are great when used in combination with another substrate but can be harmful if used alone even for desert reptiles.

When used alone, sand can cause eye irritation and infection, or intestinal impaction if swallowed.

Using Dusty Substrates

Avoid using dusty substrates as the dust can cause respiratory problems for your tortoise.


Fibers are good substrates, but when neglected they can be very dangerous. They can get moldy very easily and this would lead to a lot of health challenges for your pet.

Also, when it gets dry it can get dusty and this would lead to respiratory problems too.

They easily catch fire if exposed to heat in the basking area and these are the reasons why they should be avoided.

But if you can care for them properly, then you should use them.


Paper of any kind is bad for use with your tortoise. They have no benefit whatsoever but get moldy and catch fire easily.


Alfalfa is a very absorbent substance that helps to keep your pet’s enclosure clean.

Its absorbent nature also implies that it can easily dehydrate your tortoise.

It’s also high in protein and could cause some problems if consumed.

Things to Look Out for in A Good Substrate for Hermann Tortoise

Even though your choice of substrate depends largely on your tortoise specie, there are some general rules to choosing the best substrate for your pet tortoise.

The Hermann tortoise is a Mediterranean tortoise and as such are native to relatively dry climates.

So when choosing or mixing your substrates you should have this in mind.

The different substances that can be used offer different moisture retention capabilities.

Clay for instance can hold in more moisture than the sandy substrate, and so is fit for tropical tortoises.

Mediterranean tortoises do not require much moisture and so would do well with a mixture of soil and sand.

When filling up the enclosure with a substrate, ensure that you fill it up to at least an inch.

Hermann tortoises are burrowers and so you’d need to fill it up some more to encourage digging.

Also, try to keep the moisture content of the substrate as low as possible.

Too much moisture can lead to shell rot and other infections from an injury or a skin that hasn’t healed from shedding.

Consider the following before buying a substrate:

Tips for Substrate Use

The Best Substrate for Hermann Tortoise

1.   YPOWER Prococo Cocochip

First on our list of best substrates for Hermann tortoise is the YPOWER Proco Cocochip.

It’s made from good quality coconut husk and has good aeration, moisture retention, and good drainage properties.

This way your Hermann tortoise can stay comfortable, and the substrate won’t easily get messy.

For juvenile Hermann tortoises whose hydration needs are high, you can keep them hydrated with this as it holds enough water.

Have no fear of toxic chemicals as the coconut husks are purely organic.

You can use them for long, saving you the cost of regular replacement.

If you want to use it as a mixture with sand to control the humidity, it’s perfect for that purpose as well.

By this, your pet isn’t forced to have a humidity level that isn’t right for it as you can control the level of moisture it’s exposed to.



2.   Zoo Med Forest Floor Bedding

The Zoo Med Forest Floor Bedding is another great example of a substrate you can use for your Hermann tortoise.

Made from cypress mulch, it allows and encourages digging in your pet tortoise.

You don’t have to be scared of toxic chemicals coming in contact or being ingested by your tortoise as its 100% natural.

Your pet’s enclosure would have a natural look and make its new home feel like its natural home.

So if you were wondering about the best way to give your pet a home away from home, this is a good option.

Other animals can benefit from this like snakes, salamanders, land turtles, frogs, lizards, and a lot more.

So if you have them too, you can save more as there is no need to buy a different substrate.



3.   Zoo Med Terrarium Moss for Amphibians/Reptiles

Free from dyes and all forms of chemical content, this Zoo Med Terrarium Moss for Amphibians and Reptiles is very safe for use with your pet.

It is good for digging so your Hermann tortoise would love this.

It is good in moisture retention, so depending on the humidity you aim for, you can increase the moisture levels.

It’s also excellent for your egg-laying tortoise, or as an incubation medium.

It comes in different sizes, so you have various options from which to choose from depending on the size of your vivarium.

So if you want to give your pet tortoise great comfort and a home away from home, this will do.



4.   Fluker Labs Repta-Bark All Natural Bedding

Made from orchid barks, it’s natural bedding that your tortoise would love as it provides good comfort and optimum humidity to the enclosure.

You can easily clean up as it absorbs waste and prevents excessive moisture.

To prevent the occurrence of ingestion, the pieces are of nice sizes as small sizes are easily ingested and could cause problems for your pet.

Unlike some substrates, you won’t encounter insect problems as you use this bedding, so your pet tortoise stays comfortable.



5.   Exo Terra Plantation Soil Terrarium Substrate

Exo Terra Plantation Soil Terrarium Substrate

Last on our list of best substrate for Hermann tortoise is the Exo Terra Plantation Soil Terrarium Substrate.

Made from compressed coconut fiber, it’s a good option to increase the humidity levels of the terrarium and also encourage digging behavior in your pet.

Apart from Hermann tortoise, you can use this substrate for other burrowing animals.

It’s 100% natural and has hygroscopic properties that make it ideal for use as an incubation medium.

Since its made of fiber, it tends to get dry and become dusty, so you have to ensure it stays moist.


Commonly Asked Questions About Hermann Tortoise Substrates

Do Tortoises Need a Substrate?

Yes, tortoises need a substrate. This way they can continue their digging behavior for those that dig for thermoregulation.

How Much Substrate Should a Tortoise Have?

The depth of a tortoise substrate should be at least 2 inches deep.

Tortoises of arid environments should have an increased proportion of sand, while those of humid regions should have their sand proportion decreased.

What Is the Best Substrate for Hermann Tortoise?

Hermann tortoises are burrowers and so would need any substrate that allows them to dig freely. Examples of such substrates are orchid bark, pulverized coconut, shredded aspen, and cypress mulch.

Can Tortoise Eat Substrate?

Yes, tortoises can eat substrate. That’s why you must choose a less toxic and safe substrate. Keeping your tortoise well hydrated reduces its chances of impaction.


Providing a comfortable environment for pets is the dream of every pet parent.

That’s why we have these reviews on the best substrate for Hermann tortoise to help you give your pet more comfortable.

The YPOWER Prococo Cocochip is a good substrate that’s purely organic and can be used in combination with sand to control humidity.

Zoo Med Forest Floor Bedding is another product that is 100% natural and encourages digging in your pet.

You could also choose Zoo Med Terrarium Moss for Amphibians/Reptiles. It’s free from chemicals and comes in various sizes that you can choose from according to your enclosure size.

All products promise great comfort so no matter the one you choose, you can expect nothing but the best.

Carl, the reptile-obsessed creator of this website, got his first turtle years ago and he made a ton of mistakes along the way. His goal now with TheCritterCove is simple: help others to not make the same mistakes that he did!