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Best Substrate for Bearded Dragons

Best Substrate for Bearded Dragons

When it comes to choosing a substrate for your bearded dragon, there are many different options available. Some people prefer to use reptile carpet, as it is easy to clean and can help keep your bearded dragon's habitat healthy and clean. Reptile carpet is also a good choice if you are looking for a substrate that will help to control humidity levels in your habitat.

When it comes to flooring for your home, your options are virtually limitless! From plush carpets to hardwood floors and stunning tiles, there is no shortage of great floor alternatives. But when it comes to the bottom or "substrate" of a Bearded Dragon Cage, there aren't many alternatives.

Bearded dragons, on the other hand, need a special substrate to not only feel comfortable in the tank, but also stay healthy.

    Unfortunately, not all substrates are created equal. As a result, you'll want to do some research to choose the option that's best for your pet's environment.

    This article will guide you on the road to success in less than 10 minutes.
    • Understanding the strengths and weaknesses of each bearded dragon substrate
    • Learn the most effective substrate cleaning methods
    • Understanding the many substrates accessible

    Read on to better understand the best bearded dragon substrate! Your bearded dragon will thank you.

    Why is choosing the right substrate so important?

    Aside from the cage itself, one of the most important considerations is which Bearded Dragon substrate to choose from. The substrate serves as the floor of the bearded dragon cage, just in case you don't know.

    Asking a group of beared dragon owners what kind of substrate they use will almost certainly spark a heated debate. Substrate materials are a hot topic in the Beardie community.

    Unfortunately, there is a lot of misinformation about acceptable substrates.

    The pet business doesn't help the cause either! You will have many choices when it comes to finding your substrate. Many are not suitable for bearded dragons.

    While it may not seem like a big deal, the substrate quality of your bearded dragon has a significant impact on your bearded dragon's health and quality of life (longevity). Your reptile will spend the rest of its life on that material! This is not a choice to be taken lightly.

    The purpose is to choose materials that are comfortable to use, safe to use and easy to maintain. If a bearded dragon's substrate does not meet all these conditions, he risks creating a harmful and unsanitary environment for him.

    At the end of the day, the most important thing is to keep your reptile safe and healthy. This is exactly what you can achieve with the right bearded dragon substrate!

    Bearded Dragon's Favorite Substrate

    When evaluating and comparing the best bearded dragon substrates, we looked at three important factors: safety, stability and aesthetics.

    Loose-grained substrate

    In general, when it comes to reptile substrates, it should be possible to distinguish two distinct groups. The first category, referred to as "loose particle matrices", includes matrices made up of several individual pieces of material.

    Here are some examples of loose particle matrices:
    • Alfalfa grains
    • Chips
    • Wood shavings
    • Millet
    • Calcium sand and sand play
    • Walnut shells, crushed

    Many bearded dragon owners will say that using a loose particle substrate is a bad idea. Why?

    The loose particle matrix poses a health hazard to dragons as it is loose and can cause serious illness if swallowed or in contact with the eyes and nose.

    Since they are not the most capable and graceful hunters, baby bearded dragons are known to absorb particles while feeding.

    If you insist on using a loose particle substrate, it is recommended to check your dragon closely and avoid using it entirely with newborns.

    Bark and wood chips

    For various reasons I would not use bark and wood chips as a substrate.

    Bark and wood are usually wet and damp, which can contribute to a lack of humidity in the tank.

    Another problem with bark and wood substrates is that if you don't buy the most reputable brands, you'll be left with poor quality chips, which can result in sharp edges on the bark.

    These sharp edges can cause painful cuts on the bottom of a bearded dragon's feet.

    Hygiene is usually a major issue with these types of substrates as moisture seeps into the wood and gets into the tank bottom through pieces of wood as the dragon poops and urinates.

    To make sure your dragon doesn't actually live in large garbage trays, you should throw out the entire piece of wood roughly once a week, clean the tank bottom, and refill the tank with fresh wood chips.

    In my opinion, this is just enough justification for not using wood chips and bark related items as substrates.

    However, there are several advantages to using wood as a substrate, such as the fact that it closely resembles its natural environment, especially when compared to tiles or reptile carpets.

    Also great for digging. This is what I look for in substrate whenever I can.

    The risk of a collision is not great because the piece of wood is too large.

    Another thing worth noting is that you can choke if you use small pieces of wood. However, this will depend on the size of the piece and whether you are using a piece designed specifically for reptile substrates or a piece purchased from a hardware store.

    Advantages of Bark and Tree Chipping Substrates:
    • Bearded Dragons dig up bark and wood chips.
    • Substrate look and feel like natural environment
    • There is little environmental impact.

    Disadvantages of Bark and Tree Chipping Substrates:
    • It requires regular cleaning and replacement.
    • There is a possibility that the bearded dragon's feet will get injured.
    • Choking hazard
    • It is difficult to keep the tank clean.

    Reptile Carpet

    Herpetology enthusiasts often divide substrates into two categories: loose particle substrates and non-particulate substrates. The latter group includes carpet reptiles.

    Ingestion potential is the most serious problem of a loose particle matrix. Bearded dragons aren't the cleanest predators in the world. This is especially true for babies.

    When a Beardie eats insects (such as crickets) or other meals on a loose particle substrate, it often eats a portion of the substrate as well. Individual particles may not seem like a big deal, but they can cause problems for Beardie's fragile digestive system.

    A serious problem for Bearded Dragons that live in a loose particle environment is that individual pieces of substrate can cling on to the intestines. It is a potentially fatal condition that must be avoided at all costs.

    No need to worry about environmental impact with reptile carpets! Reptile carpets are hard pieces of fabric similar to carpets in your home. It can be trimmed to fit perfectly into the lizard cage.

    Carpets are available in a variety of colors and textures. However, most of them resemble grass or sand in shape. It is a soft and pleasant floor on which the bearded dragon can walk.

    Poor quality carpets are more likely to cause problems. When the individual strands are freed, you can grab the lizard's claws. These problems can also be harmful. However, they are easily prevented.

    Choose a carpet of good quality, tightly woven fibers. Do not use artificial carpets or rugs. It is also important to keep an eye on the quality of the material. If lint is found in the material, shave it with a lint razor or replace it with a new carpet.

    Maintaining maintenance is also important. Cleaning reptile carpets requires more effort. However, if you have a few pre-cut carpets, you can easily fit them into your schedule.

    Some people shy away from carpets because they don't have a good reputation for trapping odors. This is true to some extent, but it all depends on how you maintain it! Controlling odors and germs is not difficult if you clean them frequently.

    Reptile carpets are generally one of the best bearded dragon substrates on the market. Don't listen to the critics, try it! You will be amazed at how efficient and safe it is.

    Calcium Sand Substrate

    Because it contains calcium and is digestible, many pet stores tell us that calcium sand is a great alternative to substrates.

    Calcium is necessary for healthy bearded dragons, and it's easy to think that using a calcium-rich substrate is beneficial to dragons, but this is not the case.

    All you need to do is provide your Bearded Dragon with a calcium-rich nutritional supplement, and using a calcium-only sand substrate only creates challenges.

    Fine grains of sand are easily eaten by bearded dragons, especially at mealtimes, but contrary to what pet retailers claim, grains are not easily digested and can cause shock.

    Calcium sand has the advantage that it can be dug by a bearded dragon. However, the sand is so dry that it loses shape and shape quickly, which prevents dragons from digging holes and can't even build hills or caves. mental.

    Another advantage of a sand-based substrate is that moving in the sand all day will help keep your bearded dragon's nails short and trimmed.

    This is especially true if your pet likes them a lot and doesn't put a lot of effort into clipping their nails.

    One of the main reasons I'm not advocating sand is that when a dragon poops, moisture is absorbed into the sand. And unless you're removing huge amounts of sand when cleaning up your dragon's poop, you're effectively keeping a dirty tank with a high tank. There's a possibility of parasites that can be harmful to dragons.

    Advantages of Calcium Sand:
    • Bearded dragons have the ability to dig.
    • Helps keep nails short.

    Disadvantages of Calcium Sand:
    • Impact is a serious possibility.
    • It is difficult to keep the tank clean.


    Old newspapers are not as attractive as sand, but they are very simple to care for. It also has very little risk of environmental impact, making it an ideal substrate for a newborn bearded dragon.

    Adult bearded dragons can damage this substrate when climbing or exploring. On the other hand, this can be fixed quickly by fixing the substrate with decorations to prevent damage and clumping.

    The low price and easy replacement make up for the shortcomings.

    If your bearded dragon likes to dig, you can get some cleaned and shredded newspaper at the pet store. Newspaper prints have two main drawbacks. It retains moisture and has the wrong shape.

    A large amount of liquid is absorbed by newspapers and paper towels. As a result, they need to be cleaned more often than other substrates. As a result, they have a lower environmental impact than permanent substrates such as tiles.

    False appearance is the biggest drawback of using newspaper as a print. For those who want dragons to live in realistic environments, this is not the best option.

    If you are not interested in aesthetics and want to save money, then newspapers are the ideal solution for you.

    • Replacement is simple and not rough.
    • This is a fantastic low-cost substrate (especially for young bearded dragons).

    • Not very attractive.
    • Not reusable

    Substrate tile with bearded dragon

    If you don't want to use excavated clay for any reason, Bearded Dragon substrate tiles can be a viable alternative, but you lose some features that are only accessible with excavated clay.

    The advantage of substrate tiles is that they do not collide in Bearded Dragons like particle-based substrates do.

    Ceramic, slate or linoleum are common tile materials, so they are very maintenance-free and simple to clean.

    Long-term investment is minimized as there is little need for replacement after installation.

    One thing to keep in mind is that dragons cannot dig the ground. I usually stress the importance of this, but with the exception of digging clay, all other substrates that a dragon can dig in are not preferred over tiles as there is a significant risk of collision.

    Tiles are also slippery and may lack the natural look and feel that bearded dragons were accustomed to in the wild.

    Advantages of substrate tiles:
    • Long-Term Results
    • No risk of loose particle collisions.
    • Cleaning is simple.

    Disadvantages of substrate tiles:
    • There is a possibility that it will become smooth.
    • It doesn't look and feel like the original environment.
    • Bearded dragons cannot dig.

    Why should I avoid sand as a substrate for Bearded Dragons?

    Now that you know what kind of substrate you should use, let's talk about some possibilities you should avoid.

    Sand is a common bearded dragon substrate you can find on the shelves of pet stores. Sand has meaning on paper. After all, these reptiles originate in sandy, dry, semi-desert environments. So, what damage?

    Unfortunately, sand is one of the poorest substrate materials available! This is because they pose serious health and safety risks.

    As mentioned previously, Beardies tend to eat loose particle substrates. Sand can be a major issue despite its good uniformity. It can stick to everything and easily contaminate your pet's meal.

    This not only causes a potentially fatal impact, but also endangers the bearded dragon's neck and teeth.

    Do not be fooled by calcium sand or other similar items. Calcium sand is promoted as a healthy alternative to desert sand or common play sand. It's common for manufacturers to claim that eating a bearded dragon is healthy because reptiles contain good calcium.

    Some products may contain other "ingredients" such as strontium, potassium or magnesium. But keep in mind that you are looking for a substrate, not a supplement!

    Calcium sand, on the other hand, can be as problematic as regular sand. It won't simply disappear from your Bearded Dragon's system. Nevertheless, there is a possibility of getting in the way.

    Other parts of the body can be irritated by the sandy substrate. Just sprinting through the cage can clear the sand. It can get into a lizard's eyes, genitals, or nose.

    The sand's ability to retain moisture is another drawback. Of course, it can be useful if you need help increasing the humidity level in the cage. What about the rest of the liquid in Bearded Dragon's environment? What about urine and feces?

    In the sanitation sector, sand is a major problem. First of all, cleaning is cumbersome. Sifting through puddles of pee-soaked sand or hard mess will definitely leave some particles behind.

    Bearded dragons have the potential to cause bacterial disease in contact with waste particles.

    Also, small particles of feces can easily fall through the sand and collect at the bottom of the enclosure. Bacteria and dangerous diseases thrive in this environment. Bacteria, parasites and viruses can take over in minutes.

    The Bearded Dragon's house has suddenly turned into a disease petri dish!

    Many consider sand to be a good choice because it resembles its natural environment. In terms of maintenance, they think it's like a trash can. But do you want to live in a trash can 24 hours a day, 7 days a week?

    Bearded Dragon substrate cleaning

    Before you buy, you may want to check out how simple it is to clean a particular substrate.

    You've chosen a substrate for your Bearded Dragon, but need help stopping it from stinks or infested with bacteria and parasites?

    Anyway, follow the instructions below to keep Beardie's substrate clean!

    Reptile Carpet Cleaning

    The only significant drawback of reptile carpets is that they require constant waste removal. Leaving the trash out for too long will make the carpet too dirty to clean.

    Reptile carpets, on the other hand, are your best bet if you can get rid of litter quickly and thoroughly clean it at least once a month.

    If you need to clean one area, use a non-toxic detergent of your choice.

    How To Clean Ceramic Tiles For Beardy Dragon?

    Naturally, every day you see garbage, you will want to throw it away. Afterwards, disinfect with a veterinary-grade wash like this one or a 9:1 water-red wine-vinegar solution.

    Wait 10 minutes for the selected disinfectant to remain before rinsing thoroughly. Put the tile back into Beardie's tank only when there is no residual chemical left or when it is damp.

    Bake the tiles in the oven at 250 degrees Fahrenheit for 30-60 minutes at least once a month to disinfect them. Allow it to cool completely before bringing it back to the bearded dragon's habitat.

    When should I change my Bearded Dragon's substrate?

    A bearded dragon's substrate needs to be stained regularly to prevent bacterial growth.

    It's also a good idea to clean the tank regularly to check your dragon's digestive health. Check their waste closely. A waste with brown stool with white urine should be hard and brown in color. If you see strange feces or your lizard does not completely produce feces, it is a symptom of the disease.

    Every two weeks, the bearded dragon substrate should be thoroughly cleaned or completely replaced. Just throw away the old layers of paper towels or newspapers and replace them with new ones.

    It is recommended to remove the reptile carpet and wash it with hot water and dishwashing liquid. A reptile-safe cleanser should be applied to a permanent surface (eg ceramic tile, slate, or rubber).

    Delicate, unscented dishwashing detergent mixed with 1:4 diluted bleach-water (1-3 ounces per quart)
    white vinegar. 

    Don't forget to take the Bearded Dragon out of the cage before replacing the substrate. Before returning a Beardie, make sure the tank and substrate are completely dry and soap-free.

    What substrate is best for female Bearded Dragons?

    Female beardy dragons love to dig to bury their eggs. This is a normal procedure you should let them go through on their own.

    Again, excavator clay is the only substrate that will check all the conditions and will allow the female Bearded Dragon to dig with little chance of collision, and this page shows where you can learn more about it.

    The use of tiles or reptile carpets should be considered as this may eliminate the opportunity for females to exhibit these behaviors.

    Your female Bearded Dragon can also dig loose particle substrates, but the risk of collision is too high to suggest.

    Should I feed the Bearded Dragon Sand?

    No. When hunting and feeding, Bearded Dragons can consume sand substrates, which can cause intestinal obstruction over time.

    Young or ill-fitting dragons eat sand and are prone to shock.

    As a result, it is best to stay away from loose soil such as sand.

    What kind of Bearded Dragon carpets should I buy?

    Reptile carpets are a good choice. There is no risk of shock and it is completely safe for Bearded Dragons to use. Besides, the price is reasonable.

    Not sure what you can put on the bottom of a Bearded Dragon tank.

    In general, reptile carpets are recommended because they are safe and attractive. There are many alternatives, but most of them are not completely safe for use with Bearded Dragons.

    Which is better for a bearded dragon, sand or carpet?

    Always use reptile carpets!

    Sand is very harmful because the bearded dragon can accidentally eat it and shock it.

    What can I use instead of sand for my bearded dragon?

    There are various substrate alternatives, but reptile carpets are generally preferred. A bearded dragon's safest and best substrate is a reptile carpet.


    There are several alternatives to consider when choosing the right substrate for a bearded dragon, which often fall into two categories: "loose particle" and "non-particle".

    Loose particle substrates pose many health and hygiene risks and are consequently not as safe as non-particulate or solid substrates.

    As a result, I would advise using a non-particle-based substrate, like almost all other bearded dragon owners.

    There are several alternatives when it comes to choosing the best bearded dragon substrate. But if you follow our suggestions, you can't go wrong!

    Remember that the right substrate can have a significant impact on the overall health and comfort of your bearded dragon. All great pet owners take this choice seriously, and you should too.

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    About the author

    I am Paige and I love pets. I have a bearded dragon and a husky. My bearded dragon's name is Bart and he is a lot of fun. He likes to eat crickets and play in his cage. My husky's name is Sandy and she is a lot of fun, too. She likes to run and play in the park. I love taking them for walks and playing with them. They are both a big part of my family.
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