Ardisia leaves

BurnsStPete

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I'm nearly finished setting up an S. salamandra vivarium. For the leaf litter layer, the only leaves I could find at my local reptile store was a bag of Exo Terra Ardisia leaves. I have never heard of this tree species and was wondering if anyone knew if it was safe for caudates or not. It was not listed on the Caudata Culture tree article. I would collect my own leaves but they're currently buried under a foot of snow.
 

Blackbun

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Hello, good question here. Do a Google scholar search and you’ll realise there are several species of this plant each being known for phenol extractions for medical research. Now I’m certain they wouldn’t sell anything toxic or they’d have a barrage of complaints but to me any type of decomposing leaf comes with potential issues eg tannins which are known for antifungal properties, lowering pH and can irritate the delicate amphibian skin. I do use beech, birch, hazel, lime and sweet chestnut and some oak. These are allowed to leach in water and decompose slightly to help reduce any chemical release. Can you go out into the woods? But having said that, there are issues there too re pathogens and agricultural chemical residues.
 

Blackbun

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I wanted to ‘like’ your comment Dawn but the like button isn’t there anymore. ?
 

BurnsStPete

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I appreciate the research Blackbun. As for collecting my own leaves, like I said earlier, I would love to but living in Minnesota, it's going to be another month until that is possible.
 

bhill368

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I save a few bucks and harvest some leaves from the pack yard or local park. They can be carriers for disease for your little friend though. Make sure you properly treat them before use. There are a few tutorials out their on how to properly clean leaves. I boil mine for a while to kill of most of it. As far as what types of leaves to use, I use some Oaks. There are a few different ones you can use, just make sure to check that they aren't a toxic species before using them.
 
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