While being a reptile, bearded dragons are not difficult to raise as many people still believe. So, with their gentle nature, though their appearance is thorny, bearded dragons have become one of the most popular pets in the world.
To take care of a bearded dragon, preparing accessories like cages, food, and water, etc. is exceedingly essential. However, there is an item that pet owners often ignore or care less about – substrate.
So, what is the bearded dragon substrate? Why is it so important? And what do you need to keep in mind when choosing a substrate for your pet?
That’s what you will get answers via our article. At the same time, we will also recommend some outstanding substrate products for most bearded dragons in the market.
Let’s dig into it!
- 1 25 Top Recommended Safest Bearded Dragon Substrates
- 1.1 Zilla Reptile Terrarium Bedding Substrate Liner – Our Top Choice
- 1.2 Zoo Med Eco Earth Loose Coconut Fiber Reptile Substrate – Also The Greatest
- 1.3 Zilla Alfalfa Meal Reptile Bedding
- 1.4 ReptiChip Premium Coconut Reptile Substrate
- 1.5 Exo Terra Forest Bark Terrarium Substrate 26.4 L
- 1.6 Emours Moisturizing Reptile Carpet Fiber Pet Mat
- 1.7 Zoo Med Excavator Clay Burrowing Substrate
- 1.8 Exo Terra Desert Sand for Bearded Dragon
- 1.9 Reptile Sciences Terrarium Sand for Aquarium
- 1.10 Zilla Ground English Walnut Shells Desert Blend
- 1.11 Fluker’s Natural Reptile Sand Bedding 10lbs
- 1.12 Prococo Chips Premium Coconut Bedding
- 1.13 Zoo Med Hydroballs Review
- 1.14 Zoo Med 26080 Repti Cage Carpet
- 1.15 Zoo Med Vita-Sand in Gobi Gold
- 1.16 Small Pet Select Jumbo Natural Paper Bedding
- 1.17 Zoo Med Eco Cage Carpet for 55 Gallon Tanks
- 1.18 Hamiledyi Reptile Carpet Natural Coconut Fiber
- 1.19 Zoo Med Eco Earth Brick
- 1.20 Reptile Sciences Terrarium Sand
- 1.21 Zoo Med Repti Bark for Bedding
- 1.22 Zilla Snake and Lizard Litter
- 1.23 Critters Comfort Coconut Reptile Bedding Organic Substrate
- 1.24 Zoo Med ReptiFresh Odor Eliminating Substrate
- 1.25 Zoo Med Dragon Sand for Reptiles
- 2 How to Choose a Safe Substrate for Your Bearded Dragon?
- 3 Customer Picks: Top-Rated Best Bearded Dragon Substrate Reviews in 2020
- 4 How to Test the Bearded Dragon Substrates?
- 5 Our Pick and Flaws
- 6 Maintenance Guide
- 7 The Competition
- 8 Sources
- 9 FAQs about Bearded Dragon Substrates
- 9.1 Is ceramic tile a good substrate for my pet?
- 9.2 Do bearded dragons like to dig?
- 9.3 Should bearded dragons not be in the sand like in the wild?
- 9.4 Is vita-sand ok for bearded dragons?
- 9.5 What should be noted about the substrate when setting up a bioactive terrarium?
- 9.6 Which kinds of bedding are necessary for baby bearded dragons?
- 10 Wrapping Up
25 Top Recommended Safest Bearded Dragon Substrates
We highly recommend you to use the Zilla Reptile Terrarium Bedding because of safe materials, good absorption, and many other features.
Besides, Zoo Med Eco Earth Loose Coconut Fiber Substrate is no less useful than the product above. Let’s see their features along with some other top options for your pet.
Zilla Reptile Terrarium Bedding Substrate Liner – Our Top Choice
We love this reptile carpet. Not only is it harmless to our bearded dragons, but the product also keeps their cage always dry and clean. This is because it is treated with a biodegradable enzyme, and it has excellent absorbency.
You will not notice any unpleasant smell in the bearded dragon cage anymore.
At the same time, they are effortless to clean. All are completed in just 10 minutes! Can you believe it? And you’ll also need to buy two units to alternate when you clean one.
I have also heard about many cases in which bearded dragons have their nails broken or stuck when using reptile mats. However, our dragon has no similar problems in the process of using this product (more than 2 years). Therefore, it is definitely a safe alternative to other materials of a bearded dragon substrate that you don’t need to worry about.
Read more: 25 Best Bearded dragon habitat reviews
Zoo Med Eco Earth Loose Coconut Fiber Reptile Substrate – Also The Greatest
About this Loose Coconut Fiber Substrate product, Zoo Med has done very well when recycling the natural material to provide bearded dragons a perfect substrate.
Because it is completely natural, there are no impurities or chemicals, and you can be assured of the safety of the product.
Better yet, it is ideal for those who like to dig and burrow. As you know, bearded dragons in the wild have the habit of living in stone or soil caverns, and they often have to dig in the soil to find food.
With this bearded dragon substrate material, your pet will live in one of the most natural environments.
This product gives the 20-gallon tank of our bearded dragon about 3 inches of substrate. Therefore, it’s quite ideal for providing pets a place to play.
Note that, because it is fiber, you should place the tray of food and water for bearded dragons in a high position (within the pets’ reach) in case the substrate will stick to any food you put in or fall into the tray. Anyway, coconut fiber is still safe for them.
Zilla Alfalfa Meal Reptile Bedding
This is another completely natural product, made from alfalfa that is harmless if it is accidentally digested. Besides, it will help reduce and eliminate the risk of germs and bacteria for the pet’s habitat.
Read more: Best Bearded dragon hammock reviews.
The next product is a coconut bedding, but it does not contain dust and absorbs odors effectively.
The pieces are large enough for your bearded dragons not to eat. In addition, with a lot of quantity supplied, you will save a lot.
Exo Terra Forest Bark Terrarium Substrate 26.4 L
This is an excellent substrate for many reptiles, including bearded dragons. It is also perfect for keeping the heat in the cage.
At the same time, you won’t have to worry about their wet or smelly pens because its bark material is very absorbent.
Read more: Best Bearded dragon leash reviews
Emours Moisturizing Reptile Carpet Fiber Pet Mat
One of our favorite things in this fiber mat is how good it looks. Undoubtedly, your pet’s cage will be an extremely comfortable and cozy home because of its ability to keep the cage clean and dry.
Besides, it is also easy to wash.
Zoo Med Excavator Clay Burrowing Substrate
This product has a unique material, clay, and it is not difficult to build caves, tunnels, and shelters for bearded dragons. It’s easy to know how to use clay substrate for a bearded dragon.
You just need to moisten it and shape it with simple objects like a can or water bottle. When drying, its structure will be very stable.
Exo Terra Desert Sand for Bearded Dragon
This is a particular black product that will give the tank of bearded dragons a luxurious and mysterious color like this species. This black is not a dyed color so you can rest assured that it will not dye the pet’s skin.
Reptile Sciences Terrarium Sand for Aquarium
This bearded dragon substrate can absorb odors and moisture effectively until you clean the cage.
At the same time, you can mix it with coconut fiber and dirt so that pets can dig in an almost natural environment.
Zilla Ground English Walnut Shells Desert Blend
This walnut shell substrate will help you save a lot of costs compared to other materials like reptile sand or calcium sand.
In addition, it is lighter and has almost no dust, so your bearded dragon will always be kept clean and safe.
Fluker’s Natural Reptile Sand Bedding 10lbs
Although it is selected from natural sand, the Fluker’s product is very clean, does not contain chemicals or dyes thanks to the completely natural washing process.
Additionally, the color of the sand also helps the pet’s house become as real as in nature.
This is a great tool to help you remove moisture and all odors in the cage of your bearded dragons.
It has an excellent price and does not contain dust or any impurities because all its materials are entirely natural.
Zoo Med Hydroballs Review
You will be delighted with this substrate product. The pallet is quite large in size so you won’t worry that your pet can accidentally eat it.
Besides, you will not notice any dust or impurities contained in this substrate.
Zoo Med 26080 Repti Cage Carpet
With this mat, bearded dragons’ enclosures will be absolutely dry and clean. It is very soft and absorbent while not affecting the pets’ nails as many people still fear.
There are 2 color options for you, including brown and green.
Zoo Med Vita-Sand in Gobi Gold
This bedding product is very convenient for you to know how to clean the bearded dragon sand substrate.
The waste will clot so you can easily scoop it out. Also, your pet will love digging in this substrate because its aroma is very pleasant.
Small Pet Select Jumbo Natural Paper Bedding
With pure paper material, this substrate does not contain bleach, so it is incredibly safe for bearded dragons with high absorbency.
Besides, there is no dust, and the pieces of paper are big enough for the animal not to eat.
Zoo Med Eco Cage Carpet for 55 Gallon Tanks
The first thing when you experience the carpet is that you will be extremely amazed by how smooth this plastic product is. This is because it is woven from recycled soft plastic fibers.
Also, if the cage of bearded dragons has a heat mat, you should buy this reptile mat to avoid that pets can be injured.
Hamiledyi Reptile Carpet Natural Coconut Fiber
This coconut fiber carpet is amazingly thick and durable, and it is also straightforward to cut depending on the size of the cage.
With lots of options of color, the pet’s cage will be very outstanding. Besides, it does not contain dust, so it is very safe for bearded dragons.
Zoo Med Eco Earth Brick
This carpet is designed to fit all types of reptiles, amphibians, and insects, etc., from tropical to desert species. Of which, with bearded dragons, it creates a clean and dry living environment for them.
Of course, there will not be any unpleasant odors with the excellent absorption of this product.
Reptile Sciences Terrarium Sand
This product works perfectly in bearded dragon’s tanks, making it more attractive and easy to clean.
Moreover, when you use this type of bearded dragon substrate, you will also notice that it retains heat quite well. Its color is also very beautiful.
Zoo Med Repti Bark for Bedding
At first, we felt this product was quite expensive. However, that feeling gradually changed after we used it.
We’re really impressed with its cleanliness and softness. With this product, you won’t have to worry that the cages of bearded dragons can be humid or smell.
Zilla Snake and Lizard Litter
As a variety of coconut or crushed walnut shell substrates, this Zilla product offers bearded dragons an ideal environment to burrow and play.
However, it is superior to other products in the loosen, soft feature, and it does not clump up into one giant mass that may hinder your pet from digging.
Critters Comfort Coconut Reptile Bedding Organic Substrate
This is one of the products that attract customer because of the natural look it brings, making the cage of the pet more perfect like in the wild.
Besides, it also does not contain dust or chemicals, so it is very safe for animals.
Zoo Med ReptiFresh Odor Eliminating Substrate
If you’re struggling with the smell that cannot be dispelled, then this product will comfort you.
It is easy to clean, and with a particular material, you will realize the huge difference in smell.
Zoo Med Dragon Sand for Reptiles
The great color of this sand will make the bearded dragons’ tanks prominent. The waste is clumped so it will be effortless for you to clean the substrate. Besides, it’s also smart at keeping heat and absorbing smells.
How to Choose a Safe Substrate for Your Bearded Dragon?
To select a suitable and safe substrate for bearded dragons, we first learned about the types available in pet stores and the expert opinion on those which should and should not be used based on each one’s pros and cons.
There is a lot of controversy over what is the best substrate for the bearded dragon.
Although no specific research is conducted, some types really provide a more comfortable and better environment for the animal.
While non-particle substrates are the safest options for bearded dragons, some people prefer loose particle-based substrates.
That’s because they absorb moisture well and give pets a place to dig and play.
While some believe that bearded dragons live well on sand as in nature, others think that sand is not good for their digestion. The best way is always to keep the substrate clean and keep a very close eye on your beardies.
These are synthetic mats that are simply placed on the floor of the cage. They are soft, good at absorption, and reusable after washing, so it is very advantageous for your budget. They are usually green or brown to resemble grass or sand in nature.
However, you should carefully examine the carpet if it entangles your bearded dragons claws or not.
Paper is the most economical item because you can make use of old paper or newspaper to insert cage for bearded dragons.
Besides, you can find recycled paper products. Not only do they moisturize better than newspapers, but they are also useful in providing pets with a place to dig.
#Bark, wood chips, coconut fiber, and walnut shell
The bark is also a relatively common bearded dragon substrate because it carries a natural and non-toxic scent.
Nevertheless, the bark is thought to be quite ineffective at moisture-absorbing so that you can choose alternatives like coconut fibers and walnut shells.
In general, for these types of substrates, you should choose products with no dust and no sharpness.
This is considered the most secure and best loose substrate for bearded dragons. They are digestible, have a natural smell, and excellent moisture absorbing ability.
Tiles are easy to clean and bring the beauty for the tank of bearded dragons. However, they cannot absorb moisture. Therefore, you need to pay attention to this issue before deciding whether to buy them or not.
This is an example of building a pet’s home like in nature. With clay and a little water, it’s easy to shape caves and hideouts, discover for bearded dragons.
After it is completely dry, it will be very hard, firm and hold for a long time, so you won’t have to worry about what the animal can eat.
After having the precise knowledge of the good and safe substrates for bearded dragons, we selected dozens of products from 5 stars or more on Amazon rated by users around the world. Besides, the experience of relatives and friends is also a reliable source.
The last step is checking authenticity. We removed many disappointing products, searched for video reviews, and also tried some of the most potential products.
These substrates must ensure standards about absorption, safety, are easy to clean, and abundant in materials, brands, and functions.
Customer Picks: Top-Rated Best Bearded Dragon Substrate Reviews in 2020
How to Test the Bearded Dragon Substrates?
Initially, we opted to buy a 20-gallon carpet for our bearded dragon’s tank. However, in reality, the mat has a larger size, making the edge redundant.
Fortunately, this product is not too thick and can be cut easily to fit each individual’s cage.
Furthermore, using a carpet requires you to invest at least one more to replace the dirty one which needs to be cleaned. At first, we felt it was quite expensive.
However, it could last for a long time and also helped us save a lot of effort because it was quite easy to wash.
If you used to let your bearded dragons use any substrates above and they’re all happy, healthy, don’t change anything. If not, try both the particle and non-particle substrates to consider to choose.
Our Pick and Flaws
Some loose substrates are rated as poor absorbents and are prone to mold.
However, as we have seen, these issues are because some bearded dragon owners have not spent enough time to ensure the pet’s cage always to be dry. Or, the heating system has problems, resulting in increased humidity gradually.
In this case, you can buy another type of bearded dragon substrate like reptile carpets to replace on days when you don’t have much time to take care of your pets. Thus, the living environment of bearded dragons will always be clean and safe.
The lesson here is that you should consider the amount of time and effort you spend on bearded dragon care to choose the proper substrates in addition to the animal’s hobby and the aesthetic factor.
For reptile carpets, we prepared two more to replace when cleaning the dirty ones.
Instructions from the manufacturer tell you that you should wash it with water, but usually, we just need to scroll it to take it out of the cage, spray off with the hose and hang it up to dry it.
All processes are quick and convenient. In addition, for one bearded dragon, you only need to wash the carpet once a week.
Papers and ceramic tiles are poorly absorbent. Therefore, if you use these two types of substrates, you should clean them regularly every day.
As for loose particle substrates, you should use tissue paper to pick up the waste and keep the bedding clean.
After 1 month, it’s recommended that you should replace the substrate once to make sure that the cage of bearded dragons does not stink or contaminate even if they only produce a small amount of waste.
Take notice that the dragon bedding should never be too moist. If the water bowl is spilled, you should renew the substrate.
At first, reptile carpets or mats were not among our top considerations. It is because it does not give bearded dragons abundant choices of activities that they can do on bedding like digging, playing, or hiding.
However, after testing and comparing, we found that it had much more potential than other types.
It is not only safe and clean for the species, but it also makes the cage neat, not turning into a mess like the loose particle substrates. In particular, when using the Zilla Reptile Terrarium Bedding Substrate Liner, we didn’t notice any unpleasant odors in our pet’s habitat.
Because the best of the best products in our list also has drawbacks, we have chosen Zoo Med Eco Earth Loose Coconut Fiber Substrate for the second place. Coconut fiber provides a more natural choice and also creates an environment for the animal to move and play.
As a result, you can use these two most excellent products to keep your pets safe and healthy.
But after all, we’d love to inform the products we love the most:
Zoo Med Eco Earth Loose Coconut Fiber Substrate is the greatest of them all since it provides environmental-friendly material and makes it easy for the pet to dig and burrow.
The Exo Terra Desert Sand seems to be the runner up because we love the natural black that is harmless to our dragon.
If you want to go budget, pick the Prococo Chips Premium Coconut Bedding. The product promises to remove stink off the cage giving an easy-breathing cage.
- Stacey, The Best Substrates for Bearded Dragons, February 1, 2019
- Russ Case, Bearded Dragon Care Sheet
- Justin Huynh, Bioactive Terrarium
FAQs about Bearded Dragon Substrates
Is ceramic tile a good substrate for my pet?
Ceramic tile is one of the best substrates for bearded dragons.
The first reason is that it is created from clay, and they are harmless. Therefore, there will be no problem with your pet’s indigestion or intestinal obstruction. It also does not contain any dust or chemicals that could affect this animal.
Second, it is a very solid substrate. If you are afraid that your bearded dragons may be slippery, turn the enamel surface down and leave the rough surface on top. It will also help file their claws.
Third, using the bearded dragon substrate tiles will be very convenient and easy for you to clean it.
However, there is a disadvantage that you will have to pay attention to cleaning every day because it cannot absorb moisture and odor caused by the pet’s waste.
In short, tiles are one of the cheap and durable options that you can consider making a substrate for your bearded dragons.
Do bearded dragons like to dig?
Yes, because it’s their instinct.
If you cannot rest assured to let your bearded dragons live on the sand, you can provide them with a digging box of play sand, topsoil, alfalfa pellets, or millet seeds. As such, they will be safe because their ability to eat loose substrates will decrease while they can still have fun and exercise.
Should bearded dragons not be in the sand like in the wild?
Although the effects of sand on bearded dragons’ stomachs and digestions are somewhat true depending on each level, it is not entirely correct that we should not use the sand as bedding for pets.
Well, first, bearded dragons don’t eat everything, especially adult individuals. They only lick and taste things when they want to try and discover what they are.
Also, bearded dragons often eat sand when you do not provide it with the necessary amount of minerals.
When there are not enough minerals, this animal will find some dirt to digest. Therefore, if you still want to use sand as a bearded dragon substrate, you must ensure the balance of minerals for them in their diet.
Remember, always keep an eye on them regularly.
Is vita-sand ok for bearded dragons?
Similar to sand, bearded dragons eat only vita-sand when they feel that the amount of minerals in their daily diet is not enough.
Vita-sand is made of calcium carbonate, which is thought to neutralize the acid in the stomach of bearded dragons.
If the species only eat a very small amount of vita-sand, it is okay. But, if the acid is neutralized too much, they will have indigestion.
Therefore, it can be said that vita-sand is no different from the sand.
What should be noted about the substrate when setting up a bioactive terrarium?
The bioactive terrarium has currently attracted the interest of a variety of bearded dragon owners. It describes an ecosystem where pets live with other organisms as in nature.
Thus, the bioactive environment is a balance between bearded dragons and plants such as cacti, decorative items such as dry branches, caves, tunnels, helping to increase biological balance and ensuring aesthetic factors.
Choosing the right substrate types is also essential. They must be thick and multi-layered, in which the upper layers must be very dry for bearded dragons to live. About the lower substrate layers, they must be wet enough for the plant roots to stick and grow.
Ensuring that two elements, bearded dragons will grow healthily and happily in the most natural environment.
Besides, you should clean the substrate once a month to make sure the pet’s tank does not stink.
Which kinds of bedding are necessary for baby bearded dragons?
Loose substrates are not recommended for bearded dragons that are less than 1 year old as they are difficult to distinguish between these substrates and food.
Besides, because their stomach is still small and not fully developed, their absorption is much less than that of adults.
Hence, the likelihood that they are obstructed will be higher compared to the mature ones.
Generally, there are many reasons why you should use non-particle substrates for baby bearded dragons.
And, you should also consider using an easy-to-clean baby bearded dragon substrate like ceramic tiles or reptile mats. When they are young, bearded dragons produce waste a lot. If you do not clean the substrate regularly, your pets will get sick easily, and the cage will smell.
One of the must-do things to give bearded dragons an ideal home is to choose a suitable and safe substrate product. Indeed, with the top substrates we offer, you will not be disappointed.
If you have tried any of these products and felt interested, we would appreciate it if you like and share this guide with others.
If you need more advice, don’t hesitate to let us know. Thank you.
Last update on 2020-12-03 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API