Best 3 Bearded Dragon Substrates
Getting the right substrate for your lizard is like choosing school shoes for your kid, if you get it wrong your baby is doomed to months of discomfort or even worse, damage to their feet, right? This is why I am going to explain why you need to understand what to look out for and the real gotcha’s that may trip you up, or even harm your lizard.
What is the best Substrate? In my opinion the Zoo Med Excavator Clay Burrowing Substrate (Click here to see the reviews on Amazon) is the ideal substrate because it makes your lizard feel like they are back in their natural habitat.
Why do you even need substrate?
You may be thinking what the point of substrate is, Let me explain what the reason for this is. Imagine if there was no substrate in your enclosure? Your lizard would be roaming around on cold glass, right?
Baring in mind glass is very different to thier natural habitat, do you think they would enjoy this? The short answer is no, this would be really uncomfortable for their feet.
One of the beauties of substrate is it allows your lizard an opportunity to file down their nails and benefits them in this way. The substrate also acts as a way to regulate humidity by trapping in the heat.
It also encourages your bearded dragon to act in a natural way as if they are in their natural environment by digging and enjoying themselves
What should you consider before buying the substrate?
Before buying substrate you need to consider what things will benefit you, for this reason I’m going to explain to you things that you should consider before buying.
Think about how the substrate is going to benefit you and fit into your lifestyle, for example you need to think about the maintenance of the substrate and how convenient it will be for you to keep up with.
Although the substrate may look aesthetically pleasing, it may not actually benefit your lifestyle and the frequency of cleaning maintenance that may be required, are you with me?
One of the most important things to consider is making sure that your bearded dragon does not consume any of the substrate. This is important because this can cause some serious health issues if it is consumed.
For these reasons you need to avoid substrate such as bark or wood shavings because these will not benefit your lizard. But more on not what to use in the next section.
So now you know, what you should consider before buying he substrate for your Beardie. Now let’s look at what to avoid.
What substrate should you avoid?
Before we get into the best substrate that you should be using let’s first look at things that you should be avoiding.
Particle based substrates, such as Sand is definitely something that you should do you should avoid because it can, in some cases, cause impaction especially on juvenile bearded dragons. There are are special types of sand that have been formulated to allow it to be metabolized, but more on that later on in this article.
Pebbles need to be avoided as well as these can also cause impaction, furthermore, you could also find that the pebbles, if bitten, can damage the jaws and the teeth of your lizard.
Bark and mulch is another thing to avoid for the simple reason that they are known to retain humidity which can cause problems if you are trying to regulate the humidity of the tank.
There are certain types of reptile carpets or cage liners that should be avoided. Some of them catch your lizards claws. Look out for the right type of weave to avoid this.
Vita-sand, also known as vitamin sand, sometimes has other variations of this name. The big sale with this is it can be metabolized if ingested.
However it is not advised to use it, because it is possible to build up in the intestines of your lizard and cause discomfort. Also, it has been reported that it can netralize stomach acids, that can lead to digestion issues.
Now you know what types of substrate to avoid, next let’s look at the substrate that you can use.
What substrate can you use?
Let’s now look at the types of substrate that can benefit your lizard. Before we dive into the detail, I will give you a preview of the types:
- Clay based Substrate
- Certain types of bedding/carpets/liners
- Ceramic/Slate tiles
Quite a simple solution, but works quite well. It can also be purchased in bulk pre-shredded and washed to make it even more convenient for your use.
Tiles are a great substrate. They do not have the issues with impaction and have the additional benefit of being very easy to clean.
Clay is another great substrate. It encourages your lizard to dig and burrow to emulate its natural environment.
Some of these are fine, however you need to check, because some of them have lose material that can break off and be eaten, or loosely weaved material that can trip up or damage your lizards feet. So they are good, just be picky with these though.
Best substrate reviews
1. Zilla Reptile Terrarium Bedding Substrate Liner
- Non-abrasive, felt
- Cut to size
- Odor free system
- Easy to clean and reuse
- Can’t be eatenby the bearded dragon, ideal for young bearded dragon.
- Variety of sizes
- You may find that some of the sizes are not perfectly measured.
The Zilla Reptile Terrarium Bedding Substrate Liner (Click here to see the reviews on Amazon) is bedding designed for your lizards tank flooring, with non-abrasive felt.
It has a cool odor free system, to remove some of the usual stenches that you may come across when maintaining a lizard enclosure.
It has been designed to prevent your Bearded dragon from trying to eat it, which is particularly good for baby bearded dragons. There is also a variety of sizes available.
The only negative on this one is the fact that some of the pre-cut sizes may not be perfectly cut. This isn’t a deal breaker, but a bit of an annoyance.
Zoo Med Excavator Clay Burrowing Substrate
- Strong, keeps its shape so your Beardie’s tunnels won’t break
- Natural ingredients, to keep your lizard safe
- Replicates their natural environment
- Need to make sure it doesn’t dry out, can get crumbly and consumed by your lizard
The Zoo Med Excavator Clay Burrowing Substrate (Click here to see the reviews on Amazon) product is made out of clay and allows your lizard to build Tunnels and the dig.
The beauty of this claim is it allows your bearded dragon to feel happy by doing things that in that really loves to do.
Bearded dragons love to dig Tunnels and dig in general and this allows them to borrow and digging make tunnels.
The great thing about this play is that once the tunnels are built their quite strong and they will not collapse very easy meaning that your bearded dragon can build the tunnels move around without them falling over
Maintenance wise you need to keep an eye on them and make sure that they do not get dried out by exposure to the heat lamp in your tank.
And also make sure if there’s any unnecessary odour coming from these it’s a good time to replace them full stop
The main negative thing, is you need to keep an eye on the moisture. It tends to crumble when it’s dry which can cause impaction.
3. Zoo Med Eco Carpet
- Soft, Non-abrasive material, to keep your lizard comfortable
- Ingestion-proof, preventing you lizard from consuming it.
- Easy to wash
- May not fit exactly, may need to trim to fit
The Zoo Med Eco Carpet (Click here to check the reviews on Amazon) is an ideal lizard carpet for your tank. It has soft, non-abrasive material so that your lizard is kept happy. It is also designed so you do not have any issues with the dreaded impaction, caused by other particle based substrates, such as sand.
Another great bonus is that it easy to clean, meaning you can maintain it easily.