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The 5 Best Substrates for Bearded Dragons

Bearded Dragons Reptiles & Amphibians November 1, 2019
dragons substrate

The 5 Best Substrates for Bearded Dragons

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dragons substrate

Bearded dragons make wonderful pets because they are surprisingly docile and entertaining to keep. Though they may not look it, they are actually fairly active pets and have specific requirements for their habitat.

In addition to making sure your bearded dragon has enough space, you also need to make sure the tank is set up in a way that mimics your pet’s natural habitat.

In this article, we’ll talk about decorating your bearded dragon tank and provide some tips for choosing the best bearded dragon substrate. You’ll also see our top 5 picks for the best bearded dragon substrate.

IMAGEPRODUCT
  • Soft, fine texture won’t irritate skin
  • All-natural materials, safe and non-toxic
  • Creates a realistic-looking desert environment
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  • Enables pet to exhibit natural burrowing instincts
  • Made from 100% natural materials, no additives
  • Easy to spot clean or replace
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  • Made from 100% fine quartz sand, no additives
  • Excellent heat conductor
  • Comes in a natural-looking white color
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  • Can easily be cut to the size of the tank
  • Unlikely to get caught or be ingested
  • Made from soft, non-abrasive materials
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  • Creates a natural-looking desert home
  • Excellent conductor of heat
  • Encourages natural burrowing behavior
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What To Look For In Substrate For Bearded Dragons?

Bearded dragons are desert animals which means they are used to hot, dry climates. To keep your bearded dragon healthy, you need to recreate that environment in its habitat.

This will require you to use heat lamps to create hot basking zones as well as under-tank heating mats to keep the ambient temperature high enough. You also need to find the right substrate to line the bottom of the tank that will help hold in that warmth without being too difficult to clean.

Here Are Some Important Things To Look For In Bearded Dragon Substrate:

  • Fine texture. Substrate with a fine texture like sand is recommended because it is gentle on your bearded dragon’s feet and not large enough to cause an intestinal obstruction if it accidentally ingests some.
  • Holds heat well. Look for a substrate that won’t smother the heat from your under-tank heating mats and that will absorb the heat from your lighting system.
  • Non-toxic. Just on the off-chance that your bearded dragon accidentally ingests some of the substrate, it should be non-toxic. Avoid things like cat litter in a bearded dragon tank.
  • Doesn’t hold moisture. While you want a substrate that holds heat, you don’t want it to hold moisture or the humidity in your tank could get too high.

Now that you have a better idea what to look for in a bearded dragon substrate, it’s time to start shopping! Keep reading to see our top 5 picks for the best bearded dragon substrates.

Here Are Our Top 5 Picks For The Best Bearded Dragon Substrate:

Zilla Ground English Walnut Shells Desert Blend

Specs:

  • Materials – Walnut shells
  • Capacity – 5 quarts
  • Key Features – All-natural, soft, fine texture
  • Price$6.39

Pros:

  • Soft, fine texture won’t irritate skin
  • All-natural materials, safe and non-toxic
  • Creates a realistic-looking desert environment

Cons:

  • May not retain heat as well as sand
  • Fine materials can accidentally be ingested

If you’re looking for a bearded dragon substrate that will look natural and help simulate a desert environment, try this Zilla Ground English Walnut Shells Desert Blend. It is made from 100% natural materials finely ground to cushion your bearded dragon’s feet. It also conducts heat very well and enables natural digging and burrowing behavior.

Zoo Med Excavator Clay Burrowing Substrate

Specs:

  • Materials – Clay
  • Capacity –10 pounds
  • Key Features – Holds shape, all natural
  • Price$16.96

Pros:

  • Enables pet to exhibit natural burrowing instincts
  • Made from 100% natural materials, no additives
  • Easy to spot clean or replace

Cons:

  • May not be safe if accidentally ingested

For bearded dragons who like to dig, this Zoo Med Excavator Clay Burrowing Substrate is a great option. It is made from all-natural materials with no chemicals or dyes and it holds its shape well, enabling your bearded dragon to dig caves. It also has a natural appearance that will boost the look of your tank.

Zoo Med ReptiSand Desert White

Specs:

  • Materials – Quartz desert sand
  • Capacity – 10 pounds
  • Key Features – ll-natural, soft, fine texture
  • Price$17.61

Pros:

  • Made from 100% fine quartz sand, no additives
  • Excellent heat conductor
  • Comes in a natural-looking white color

Cons:

  • Very young bearded dragons may accidentally ingest it

Sand is the perfect substrate for an adult bearded dragon tank because it looks natural and holds heat well. This Zoo Med ReptiSand is a great option because it comes in a natural-looking desert white and it is fine-textured so your bearded dragon can dig through it. It is also easy to scoop for daily cleaning.

Zilla Reptile Terrarium Bedding Substrate Liner

Specs:

  • Materials – Recycled materials
  • Capacity – 50-gallon
  • Key Features – Low maintenance, easy to clean
  • Price$15.07

Pros:

  • Can easily be cut to the size of the tank
  • Unlikely to get caught or be ingested
  • Made from soft, non-abrasive materials

Cons:

  • Doesn’t conduct heat well and may absorb liquid

If you want to keep things simple in your bearded dragon tank, this Zilla Reptile Terrarium Bedding Substrate Liner may be the way to go. Simply unroll it and then cut it to fit the bottom of your tank. It is very low-maintenance and very safe because it can’t be accidentally ingested. It is also very easy to clean with cold tap water and it doesn’t tend to hold odor.

Exo Tera Desert Sand Black

Specs:

  • Materials – Sand
  • Capacity –10 pounds
  • Key Features – Conducts heat, fine texture
  • Price$14.49

Pros:

  • Creates a natural-looking desert home
  • Excellent conductor of heat
  • Encourages natural burrowing behavior

Cons:

  • Very young bearded dragons may accidentally ingest it

Another option in sand substrate for your bearded dragon is this Exo Tera Desert Sand. It comes in a deep black color which gives your tank a unique appearance. It holds heat well and has been sifted to remove any impurities – this also ensures that it has a homogenous grain size. This substrate encourages natural burrowing behaviors and is easy to scoop for cleaning.

Tips For Decorating A Bearded Dragon Cage

The goal of decorating a bearded dragon cage is to create an environment that mimics your pet’s natural habitat. It should provide ample space for your bearded dragon to move around as well as places to hide and places to rest. That’s where decorations and things like substrate come into the picture.

Here Are Some Simple Tips For Decorating Your Bearded Dragon Cage:

  • Choose a tank large enough to comfortably accommodate your bearded dragon – juveniles need at least 20 gallons and adults need a tank at least 1.5 to 2 feet long.
  • Cover the bottom of your bearded dragon tank with an inch or so of substrate and scoop it every few days to keep it fresh.
  • Place a basking lamp at one end of the cage as well as a rock or something your bearded dragon can rest on to enjoy the warmth.
  • Keep the opposite end of the tank a little cooler and provide your bearded dragon with a place to hide.
  • Keep your bearded dragon tank around 85°F during the day with a basking temperature of 100°F to 105°F – your nighttime temperature can drop as low as 75°

Remember, it is always a good idea to provide your pet with more space than is required, if you can afford it. If you only want to make the investment once, purchase a tank that will be large enough for an adult bearded dragon and let your baby bearded dragon grow into it.

Final Remarks

Bearded dragons may be different than cats and dogs, but they are not significantly more difficult to keep. As long as you do your research to determine what your bearded dragon needs and then create an environment to meet those needs, everything should go well. Follow the advice in this article to choose the right substrate for your bearded dragon tank.

If you’re still not sure where to start in looking for bearded dragon substrate, try out one of the top 5 best bearded dragon substrates we’ve reviewed above. Good luck!

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Kate Barrington is avid pet lover and adoring owner of three cats and one dog, her love for animals has led her to a successful career as a freelance writer specializing in pet care and nutrition. She has been writing about pet care and pet products since 2010
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