A List Of The 7 Substrates You Can Safely Use For Your Bearded Dragon
What is the best substrate for a bearded dragon?
Substrate is the flooring used to cover the bottom of the terrarium. It is where your bearded dragon can burrow, walk on, and hunt on. Finding safe substrate is important to use to prevent impaction in your bearded dragon.
1. Zoomed Repti-Sand/Vita-Sand
Sand is an appropriate substrate for adult bearded dragons. Sand is often debated on whether it is safe for bearded dragons or not. One issue about sand is that is can potentially cause impaction. It is not recommended for baby bearded dragons as well.
The Zoo med Repti-Sand is made out of fine quartz that replicates the sand in the desert. I do not recommend using this for baby bearded dragons. There is a small chance that an adult could accidentally eat some of the sand as well. This sand will lead to impaction eventually.
They make calcium carbonate based sand that is considered safe to ingest if your bearded dragon accidentally has some. It is easy to pass through the body because of the calcium. Vita-Sand is one of the safer choices for bearded dragon. Sand also allows your bearded dragon to dig and make burrows. Sand is most like their native habitat anyway.
2. Reptile Carpets
Reptile carpets are one of the safest substrates to buy for bearded dragons of all ages because they can’t ingest anything. Carpet that mimics grass is safe for their little feet and bellies. Another form of reptile carpet is a synthetic substrate that looks like the color of sand.
Cleaning the reptile carpet is very easy to do and will last for a very long time. You can cut the reptile carpet to fit perfectly in your terrarium.
3. Paper Towels
Paper towels are convenient to use because it makes clean up easy. If you like the convenience of the clean up, then paper towels are a good choice. You can also avoid impaction with paper towels.
Newspaper is safe to use as flooring because it will not cause impaction. Cleanup is also easy and it is a cheaper option. Once you finish reading the paper you can set it aside as substrate. One con about using newspaper is that it isn’t as realistic as sand.
Newspaper can also be washed and shredded too to use as substrate so your beardie can burrow. However, the other con about newspaper is that it will retain too much humidity.
Newspaper will probably need replaced every other day because it can’t be reused over and over.
5. Walnut Shell
The walnut shell is ground to tiny grains that make a more realistic desert environment for your terrarium. The shell holds in heat really well and it is safe for your bearded dragon to burrow in. The shell is soft enough to not scratch the tank glass and is compostable.
Replacing the bedding would be once a month. Basically, you would need to buy one or two bags per month depending on the size of your terrarium.
You can get clay substrate as well. This is a fun substrate for your beardie because they can burrow and make tunnels like they would in the wild. It is moldable and strong. You will not have to worry about the tunnels collapsing on your bearded dragon. This substrate is only for molding.
The clay just needs to be mixed with a little bit of water. It hardens fairly fast too. Once it is hard, it won’t be edible for your beardie. Over time, the clay will need to be replaced because it can’t be cleaned. It can develop an odor as well.
7. Sand Mats
Sand mats are another safe substrate to use. The mats can be cut to fit the dimensions of the terrarium. Most mats are going to be the right size if you have a standard tank. The sand mats have the texture of the desert floor, but without the loose substrate. The clean-up is easy and your bearded dragon will not risk impaction.
There are a total of seven different substrates you can safely use. Each one has a lot of perks, but some can have cons as well. You just have to pick which substrate works best for you and your beardie. The substrates that create the most realistic environment for your beardie would probably be best to make it feel more like their native home in Australia. All of the substrates are also easily affordable too.