Bearded dragon substrates

The setting of your reptile’s enclosure needs to meet certain conditions to ensure that it will stay healthy longer. Everything from the housing, the heat, light, humidity, food, the substrate, as well as the hygiene  of your pet and it’s habitat will contribute to its overall health. Failure to meet the specific needs of the reptile may cause the dragon to get sick or die.


Substrate for your bearded dragon

The substrate is what you need to cover the floor of your bearded dragon’s enclosure. There are various types of substrates that can be used for this purpose. However, not all of them will be beneficial to your dragon.

Although the need for appropriate substrates for bearded dragon is an established fact, still many have varying positions on this matter. Some reptile keepers are against the use of certain substrates. Others claim that it is the only substrate that should be used.

One of the common concern on the proper choice of a substrate or a bedding for reptiles like bearded dragons is that ingestion of particles or pieces of the substrate may cause impaction. The best option that you can have for a substrate that you can use will depend on the age of the bearded dragon, the time that you have to keep it properly cleaned, as well as other personal preference.

Here are the various substrates that you can use when building the enclosure for your bearded dragon

Sand and Similar Substrates

Bearded dragons spend their entire life roaming around sands and pebbles. However, many bearded dragon keepers feel that using sand as a substrate can increase the chances of gut impaction. A safer kind of this substrate is the non-silica sand and can be used as a substrate for adult bearded dragons, but is not recommended for baby bearded dragons.

There are other sand substrates sold on the market that are made of calcium, such as Vita-Sand. Vita-Sand is also fortified with vitamins and beta-carotene intended to increase health benefits to reptiles like a bearded dragon. Some reptile keepers use products like this as a substrate for their bearded dragons. However, others still think that it can cause impaction.

Gut impaction happens when an object (or objects) are ingested and blocks the intestinal tract. These blockages can lead to death if the impaction is not treated right away.

Pebbles and gravel are offered as a substrate in pet stores. They can also cause impaction if your pet bearded dragon swallows pieces of them. Pebbles can also damage the teeth and jaws of your dragon if your pet accidentally grabbed a piece of these substrates while going after an insect.

Reptile Carpets

Another substrate that can also be used for bearded dragon enclosures is the reptile carpet, which is also known as a cage liner. These carpets or liners are synthetic carpets made to mimic grass or deserts. They are simply placed on the floor of the enclosure to cover the bottom of the glass.

Cage liners are simply laid across the floor of the enclosure to cover the bottom glass. One of the drawbacks of using this kind of liners is that the loops in the liner may get caught in the dragon’s claws and cause it to get s

One worry of using cage liners is that the loops of the liner may get caught in the bearded dragon’s claw. This may cause the bearded dragon to pull the snag which may cause its claw to be broken. They do look neat and more appealing inside the dragon’s exposure. They do need to be properly cleaned and sanitized regularly. If you would like to buy one of the available liners online, find one that has been tightly woven to avoid this.


Old newspapers can also make a suitable substrate for bearded dragons. They are the cheapest and the easiest to maintain as well. They just don’t look as good as other substrates though. If you are concerned about the possibilities of your dragon getting a gut impaction, this is the best alternative that you can opt. You may also use shredded recycled paper or newspaper.

Some pet stores sell a newspaper substrate that consists of washed and shredded recycled newspaper. This makes a great substrate for bearded dragons that love to dig without the possibilities of impaction. The downside to this substrate is that it can retain humidity.

Ceramic Tiles

Ceramic tiles  that have gained popularity lately in bearded dragon husbandry and is now used as a substrate in the terrarium. They do look nice and are quite easy to clean. They can also easily keep the nails of the dragon trimmed. Using ceramic tiles also eliminates the chances of impaction.

Clay Burrowing Substrate

An exciting new substrate that many reptile keepers have started using is the clay burrowing substrate. It comes in sand form. You’ll need to mix the content of the bag with some water before molding it to form tunnels, terraces, burrows of all sizes and shapes, and more. Many have found this type of substrate a very interesting for some good reasons:

  • the clay hardens, so there’s so it’s impossible for the bearded dragon will have impaction issues
  • there are limitless ways that you can do with the clay — hills, caves, tunnels, burrows, etc.
  • it’s a loose substrate, so you won’t have any problem with damaged joints
  • it lasts longer than other substrates
  • it can be re-arranged or re-shaped once wet down again
  • it is easy to clean
  • it is cheaper since you can re-use the clay

If you check the seller’s page you will see several reviews with photos uploaded by customers who bought the product. You’ll see how they just love the clay. For sure you’ll like it too once you have your hands on it.

Whatever you decide to have as your dragon’s substrate, make sure that you keep it clean always. Also, remember that there are more to bearded dragon care than just substrates. Learn more about them and ensure that you provide proper husbandry to your pet.

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