Many pet reptile parent, like yourself often search for the best substrate for bearded dragon online but the answers can be overwhelming. This is why we have taken it upon ourselves to show you the best bedding for bearded dragons.
While setting up a home for your beardies, you will need to consider the substrates. Substrates are materials that are placed on the floor of the terrarium and keeps the beardie feel comfortable inside the enclosure.
When provided with appropriate care, attention, and diet, these animals can live up to 15 years.
On the other hand, if you’re adopting a bearded dragon, you will need to consider the type of bedding that you will provide in his new home, beardie owners will try to imitate their natural habitat.
The Best Substrate for Bearded Dragon
For some interesting and tested product available in the market today, we have come up with a list of the best bedding from where you can choose the material you will use for your beardie.
Zilla Reptile Terrarium Bedding Substrate Liner
This reptile terrarium bedding liner by Ziller is produced with absorbent and non-abrasive materials that will not irritate your dragon.
It is treated with biodegradable enzymes that lessen the odor from the reptile. You can just pull it off from the cage and squirt cold tap water on it before hanging it to dry. This liner measures 17.25 x 35.25 inches and can just be rolled out and cut to the desired size.
Zilla Reptile Terrarium Bedding Substrate Liner
Past buyers rated the purchase of this product to be quite satisfactory. This is a good choice for young dragons as it is made with inedible materials. It comes in two colors (green and brown) and also in different sizes. This one’s best suited for a 55-gallon enclosure.
Zoo Med Juvenile Bearded Dragon Carpet Substrate
It’s a no-fuss bedding that is both pet-friendly and woner-friendly too. This is one of the synthetic carpets that are made to stimulate deserts or grass.
Carpets and liners can just be laid across the floor of the cage to cover the bottom of the enclosure.
Zoo Med Eco Carpet (15 Gallon Tanks)
It’s simple to cut to various sizes and can be easy installed in a matter of minutes. It allows for easy removal when its due for cleaning and does not hold moisture.
It is easy to maintain.
Zoo Med Eco Carpet for Reptile
You need not worry if your pet poops on this bedding as it washable and quite simple to clean. Your dragon will thank you for this. It is also made to not look edible, so your pet won’t find it to be tummy-friendly.
Exo Terra Sand Mat
It is easy to install, pull out, and clean. It measures 47.5″ x 17.5″ and provides a perfect fit for a 40-gallon tank enclosure.
Reptiles Carpet Terrarium Liner
It is a better alternative to fiber or sand substrates. Carpet liner can protect your pet’s tummy, feet, as well as its teeth.
It looks like a pretty green well-manicured lawn but with a slightly uneven ground with small hills and stuff. This cage liner will work for many other reptiles like the anoles, newts, ceratophryids, gecko, iguanas, and so on. It measures 39.37”x 19.68”
Emours Moisturizing Reptile Carpet Fiber Pet Mat, Green
It is washable, simple to clean, and can be used many times.
This tasteless and non-toxic material for bearded dragon bedding provides natural protection that has good absorption property.
It holds humidity, serves as a thermal insulation and as a flame retardant. It can be be an excellent substrate not just for your beardie but for other insects and reptiles as well.
Zoo Med ReptiFresh Odor Eliminating Substrate
You can use this to cover the bottom of the tank and this is an odor-eradicating substrate.
This can also be used for other reptiles like sand boas, desert skinks, geckos, and more. The product can be used for up to 12 months before you will need to replace it.
Best Loose Substrate for Bearded Dragons
Note: Many bearded dragon owners are going to advice against you using a loose particle substrate.
Well, because loose particle substrates are in fact, loose, they present potential health risks to your dragon since they can not only be ingested, but can also lead to some serious infections when they come in contact with the nose and eyes.
Loose particle substrates have been known to cause impaction when ingested.
Baby bearded dragons have proven to ingest particles while eating as they are not the most skilled and graceful hunters. If you are still insisting on using a loose particle substrate, I recommend you keep a very close eye on your dragon and avoid using it completely with a baby.
Here are some examples of the most popular loose particle substrates…
Calcium Sand (Calci-Sand)
Calcium sand is one of the best loose substrate for bearded dragons that was designed to try and make reptiles believe it’s a “safe sand” since it contains calcium.
But, it’s not. A lot of pet stores will tell you that calcium sand is safe and digestible but it mostly certainly isn’t and can lead to impaction issues just like regular sand can.
Another vital thing to consider with any type of sand is how hygienic it actually is. When your bearded dragon poops and you scoop the poop out, you’re leaving behind juices (gross, I know) and tiny flecks that can lead to health issues and parasites if ingested or in contact with food.
Picture a bearded dragon that has sand substrate is basically living in a big litterbox, and I don’t know about you, but I personally would not want to subject my pet to that!
This is a better sand option than calcium sand, but play sand is still not really an ideal bedding for bearded dragons because of the infection and ingestion risk.
Plus, play sand, despite the name, isn’t necessarily ideal for “playing” since it doesn’t hold its shape well. So, if your beardie is looking to dig in their substrate, you can pretty much forget about play sand holding up.
Now, you can dampen it some, but then you’re likely just going to raise the humidity level in the tank and that will present a whole other array of issues. Also, play sand has been known to literally STAIN bearded dragons’ skin. SO, there’s that as well…
Amongst other concerns, play sand has been known to actually stain bearded dragons’ skin.
You don’t want a funny looking lizzie now, do you?
I recommend avoiding this as a substrate since many kinds of wood are toxic for reptiles and bearded dragons.
Sharp, dusty, potential for internal bleeding if ingested… need I go on? Don’t subject your little guy or gal to this.
This is one of the top sought after best loose substrate for bearded dragons.
Plus, like any other loose particle substrate, there is still the risk of parasites being left behind from feces and urine.
If you have your mind made up that you want to use a loose substrate (first of all, why?), then this is really the only one I can recommend. Although, make no mistake… it’s by no means my first choice.
Although they may be the best loose particle substrate option, alfalfa pellets still present quite a few health hazards that should not be ignored.
Like everything mentioned above, millet also can and will cause impaction when ingested, can mold (gross), and lead to the spreading of parasites and bacteria. In general? Skip this option.
Best Non-Loose Substrate
Non-loose substrates are an all-around safer option for your bearded dragon because they don’t run the risk of causing your beardies eyes or nose irritation or become impacted.
They also tend to be the simplest to clean and as such, don’t present the risk of hygiene issues and parasites that loose particle substrates do. Check out the most common forms of non-particle substrate below…
Bearded Dragon Substrate Tiles
Whether ceramic, slate, linoleum, tile is an excellent option for bearded dragon’s substrate. Plus, it’s super affordable and low maintenance so you never have to replace it!
Tile is one of the best non-loose substrate for bearded dragons and this makes it a wonderful substrate for reptile tanks.
Additionally, cleaning it is a total breeze and will even keep your dragon’s claws trimmed. So, make sure the tile isn’t slippery like glazed tile can be!
Now, there are some small cons with tile, such as how slippery it can get. But, an easy way to get around this is making sure your dragon has lots of other things to climb around on so they’re not always on the tile.
Plus, you can always use a little bit of non-toxic, adhesive and some sand or topsoil to add some traction and make the tile a little grittier.
Since the sand will be so fine (not to mentioned stuck to the tile), there isn’t any risk of impaction or it getting into the nose or eyes, so you’re find in that regard!
Also, one last thing about tile is to make sure that whatever kind you get does not reflect heat/light, but instead absorbs it.
You’re going to want to make sure your bearded dragon’s substrate is not cold.
Tile is not only easy to clean and maintain, but looks attractive and helps keep your bearded dragon’s nails nicely filed.
In terms of where to get tile, you can look on Amazon or go to stores like Home Depot or Lowes and have them cut you the sizes you need. If they’re charging a lot to have the tile cut, try going to a tile store.
Rubber Shelf Liner
A whole new discovery among bearded dragon enthusiasts, is shelf liner as a substrate. Easy to clean and relatively inexpensive, shelf liner makes a great substrate option and can last up to several years before needing to be replaced.
Still wonder why it is rated amongst the best nonloose substrate for bearded dragons?
This is a great option for those looking for something fast and convenient, that they don’t have to deep clean more than once a week or so.
Paper and Newspaper towels are excelent options if you’re on a really tight budget or maybe are buying time between actually setting up something more permanent like tile.
Simply make sure you regularly switch out soiled newspaper and paper towels to avoid leaving germs in your bearded dragons tank.
Short on cash? Try newspaper as a substrate, just make sure to switch it out when it gets soiled from your dragon poo and feces.
Bearded Dragon Carpet (AKA Reptile Carpet)
Although a better option than any best loose substrate for bearded dragons out there, reptile carpet is maybe my least favorite substrate option as a result of being a total pain in the ass to clean.
In fact, if you’re going to go this route, I recommend having 2 carpets, that way you can switch one out for the other during cleanings. You’ll want to spot clean as often as possible to keep bacteria and smells to a minimum.
Our #1 pick for reptile carpet:
Clay Substrate for Bearded Dragons (AKA Excavator Clay)
Another sweet option for substrates is excavator clay, which gives you the ability to actually form hills and tunnels for your bearded dragon. This is a great option for those willing to take the time and effort needed to really spend some time building a great enclosure.
It should be noted that depending on the size of the enclosure, you could need 20 or more pounds of excavator clay. However, you can always use the clay in just part of the enclosure as well, it works good on tile.
Clay substrate for bearded dragons allows owners to make custom landscapes within their bearded dragon’s tank.
What is A Good Substrate For Bearded Dragons?
Any bearded dragon owner is going to recommend you stick to non-particle based substrate options, with tile being the clear standout, followed closely by a good rubber shelf liner.
What is the Best Sand To Use For A Bearded Dragon?
This is a fair choice for adult bearded dragons but should be avoided if there is fear of the reptile eating the sand (and baby beardies). It’s recommended that you fill your bearded dragon’s tank so there’s about 1.5 to 2 inches of sand on the bottom.
Is Tile A Good Substrate For A Bearded Dragon?
Ceramic tile is a good choice for substrate in a bearded dragon enclosure because it lasts for almost forever and can help create a great hotspot for the bearded dragon to bask in.
Can You Use Wood Chips For Bearded Dragons?
No! Why? because bearded dragons will eat bedding made of small particles, you should not use sand (including biodegradable calcium-based sands), gravel, or wood chips.
Can You Overfeed A Baby Bearded Dragon?
Exercise caution not to overfeed the baby bearded dragons. Overfeeding can put pressure on the lizards nerves and cause paralysis in the rear legs and possibly death. They will need a lot of food, but in smaller frequent meals. Good food will be small crickets, wax worms and molted mealworms.
Why is My Bearded Dragon Waving?
The reasons that a bearded dragon will wave their arm is not entirely explained. However, it does seem to be a form of communication. A common belief is that arm waving is a passive message, to indicate submission when a larger or more dominant beardie is near by.
Why is My Bearded Dragon Clawing At The Glass?
The bearded dragon sees his reflection in the glass and this thinks there is another bearded dragon in the area. This constant scratching can cause it to become stressed and jumpy. You can help reduce this by placing a aquarium or terrarium background, on the sides and back of the terrarium.
Do Bearded Dragons Recognize Their Owners?
Beardies respond and recognize their owners’ voices and touch and are usually even-tempered. They can be great pets for someone who wants a reptile who likes to be held and taken out of his cage. … Anyone who handles a dragon must wash up afterward, as all reptiles carry salmonella bacteria.
Do Bearded Dragons Have Feelings?
A lot feel that they have not developed this emotion, as it does not naturally benefit them. However, most reptiles do seem to recognize people who frequently handle and feed them. Tortoises and lizards appear to like some people more than others.
Do Bearded Dragons Like To Cuddle?
Bearded dragons are individuals, with unique “personalities.” Some bearded dragons seem neutral when their owners pet and cuddle them; others appear to be having a ball. Some bearded dragons like to relax and lounge on their owners’ laps while they’re getting a little weekend reading done.
Do Bearded Dragons Like To Be Petted?
Bearded dragons should always be kept alone, as they tend to go hay wire and fight. However, many beardies don’t mind being held or petted. Some even like it!
How Can I Tell If My Bearded Dragon Is Dying?
- Eyes Appear Cloudy or Filmy
- Swollen Limbs or Tail
- Loss of Appetite
- Mouth Hanging Open
- Acts Very Lethargic
- Soft, Runny, or Foul Stool
- Inside of Mouth is Black or Discolored
- Discolored Stomach
Wrapping Up Substrates
Finally, when it comes to choosing the right substrate for your bearded dragon, you will have different options to consider, generally categorized into either the “loose” or “non-particle” substrate categories.
Loose particle substrates are going to present lots of health hazards and hygiene concerns and as such, do not make as safe of substrates as non-particle or solid options.
As such, myself and almost every other “experienced” bearded dragon owner is going to recommend you stick to non-particle based substrate options, with tile being the clear standout, followed closely by a good rubber shelf liner.
We hope you have made your pick out of our review of the best substrate for bearded dragon pet reptiles, talk you soon!