BEST BEARDED DRAGON SUBSTRATES

Top 10 Best bearded dragon substrates And Carpets For a Perfect Terrarium

Are you planning to bring home a new friend? Do most of your friends have felines and canines at home? Do you want to have something unique as a pet? How about having a reptile? No, we are not asking you to have a crocodile, it’s a bearded dragon!

These little reptiles have their homeland in Australia and mostly live in a habitat near humans. So it can become one of your newest friends at home! Most bearded dragons can thrive on shrublands, deserts, and woodlands.

So now that you are excited to get home a bearded dragon, did you plan where can you comfortably place them?

Having a perfect bearded dragon habitat includes the substrate you use to give your little reptile friend a comfortable abode. This will be the determining factor for the type of environment your reptile will enjoy. It’s not just a substrate; it is special flooring inside the bearded dragon tank that will keep them happy and healthy. 

But are you finding your choice limited? We have a list of the top 10 substrates that you can choose. But before that, let’s know why the substrate is so imperative for your reptile friend!

Why is it important to set up a good habitat for your Bearded Dragon?

Image of a lizard head on nature background. Reptile. Animals.

Do you know why they are called bearded dragons? 

These tan-yellow reptiles can flare out of their skin close to their throat region when they feel threatened in their territory. It sprouts up the spines near the throat and a head resembling a beard.

So if you alarm the dragon, be ready to see its wrath! 

Territory or a suitable habitat plays an imperative role in keeping the bearded dragon healthy. They survive in the natural environment of central Australian deserts and arid woodlands. Most of its time is spent basking on the rocks and walking for hours through the trees and bushes. If it’s hot outside, it will bury itself underground. These omnivores forage for foods from plants to insects and mammals.

 Hence when you bring one at home, bearded dragon habitat is what you need to focus on. From bearded dragon cage, reptile carpet to play sand for the bearded dragon, the environment setting must be apt for their survival.

What are the substrates types that are convenient for Bearded Dragons?

The material which is placed at the bottom of the bearded dragon terrarium is called the substrate. A bearded dragon substrate is of two variants—loose Particle Substrate and Non-Particle Substrate.

Loose Particle Substrate: Made of Individual substance

These loose materials mostly consist of millet, calcium sand, alfalfa pellets, wood chips, or play sand for bearded dragons. But if you opt to have these in your bearded dragon tank, you need to keep a watchful eye on your pet as they can accidentally ingest these particles. It is best to avoid loose particle substrate if you have a bearded baby dragon.

Non-Particle Substrate: An all-rounder substrate best suited for bearded dragons

Some of the popular non-particle substrates for your beardie are newspaper, reptile carpet, ceramic tiles, and rubber sheet liners. These are one of the best-bearded dragon substrates as they are easier to clean, hygienic, and refrains parasites’ existence.   

Quick Overview

In a hurry? here is our top pick followed by the top 10 best bearded dragon substrates we reviewed in this article to make your reptile more comfortable with a natural terrarium.:

Top Pick

Our Top Pick bearded dragon substrate

Editors Rating: 4.9/5
4.9/5
  • It has incredibly soft and comfortable bedding
  • Recreates a forest floor look inside the terrarium
  • Can retain a high amount of moisture
  • Creates a humid environment inside the tank
  • Crafted from cypress mulch substance
ImageProduct NameTop FeaturesEditor Rating 
#1
Zoo Med Forest Floor Bedding
Zoo Med Forest Floor BeddingIt has incredibly soft and comfortable bedding, Recreates a forest floor look inside the terrarium, Can retain a high amount of moisture, Creates a humid environment inside the tank, Crafted from cypress mulch substance.4.9See Full Review
#2
Zoo Med Repti Bark
Zoo Med Repti BarkBuilt from the natural bark of fir tree, Reusable up to a year, Creates a humid environment as it is hygroscopic, Helps in building a stimulating environment.4.8See Full Review
#3
Zilla Reptile Terrarium Bedding Substrate Liner
Zilla Reptile Terrarium Bedding Substrate LinerIt is a fixed terrarium liner devoid of loose particles, Can be trimmed and fitted to any sized enclosure, It has non-abrasive bedding, Controls odor with biodegradable enzymes.4.8See Full Review
#4
Reptile Sciences Terrarium Sand
Reptile Sciences Terrarium SandMade of pure calcium, Consists of magnesium, strontium, and potassium, Acts as a natural odor neutralizer, Easily digestible, Makes the waste visible by clinging to it, Prevents the reptile from an accidental cut4.7See Full Review
#5
Zoo Med Eco Cage Carpet
Zoo Med Eco Cage CarpetIt is an eco-friendly product made of recycled plastic bottles, Easy to clean and remove waste materials, A premium substrate carpet, Devoid of loose particles, Extremely affordable.4.7See Full Review
#6
Zoo Med ReptiFresh Odor Eliminating Substrate
Zoo Med ReptiFresh Odor Eliminating SubstrateLong-lasting and durable, Creates soft bedding for the bearded dragon, Easy to clean, Eliminates odor from the terrarium.4.6See Full Review
#7
Critters Comfort Coconut Reptile Bedding Organic Substrate
Critters Comfort Coconut Reptile Bedding Organic SubstrateIt is reusable and recyclable, Made of 100% natural coconut coir, Acts as a natural moisture retainer, It has an incredibly soft bedding4.5See Full Review
#8
Zilla Alfalfa Meal Reptile bedding
Zilla Alfalfa Meal Reptile beddingIt is safe for the carnivorous reptiles, Effectively reduces the growth of pathogens and germs, If ingested accidentally, this substrate is easily digestible, Made from natural Alfalfa meal4.4See Full Review
#9
Exo Terra Reptile Sand Mat
Exo Terra Reptile Sand MatIt is hygienic and eco-friendly, It doesn’t contain loose particles, Can be trimmed to desired shape and size, The sand mat gives a desert-like texture, Ease to clean and maintain.4.3See Full Review
#10
Zoo Med Excavator Clay Burrowing Substrate
Zoo Med Excavator Clay Burrowing SubstrateLong-lasting and durable, Easy to spot clean,100% natural clay free of artificial substances, Allows bearded dragon to create multi-story tunnels.4.1See Full Review

TOP 10 BEST bearded dragon substrates

100% Natural

Our Rating: 4.1/5
4.2/5
  • Long-lasting and durable
  • Easy to spot clean
  • 100% natural clay free of artificial substances
  • Allows bearded dragon to create multi-story tunnels

Did you know bearded dragons love to dig and create a tunnel in the wild? Do you want to recreate the feel of a wild forest inside your bearded dragon terrarium? So we recommend you to check out the Zoo Med Excavator Clay Burrowing Substrate for your bearded friend. Placing them as bearded dragon bedding will help your reptile friend to dig a tunnel inside the terrarium. One imperative aspect of this substrate is that it is made of clay, so the tunnel will remain intact unless your bearded dragon thinks to give it an intrinsic new décor!

With this substrate, the dragon can make multi-level tunnels to feel the natural home atmosphere. It is 100% natural and free of artificial colors, chemicals, and dyes. To use this substrate, you will need to mix it with water and place it inside the bearded dragon tank. This will quickly harden, and after it becomes firm, the bearded dragon can’t accidentally swallow it.

This bearded dragon substrate can be spot cleaned to increase its longevity, but if a strong odor persists or it becomes saturated, you will have to replace it with a new one. If there is a heat source like a lamp placed above it, the clay can dry out fast, so you need to monitor and moisten it from time to time.

Desert look

Our Rating: 4.3/5
4.3/5
  • It is hygienic and eco-friendly
  • It doesn’t contain loose particles
  • Can be trimmed to desired shape and size
  • The sand mat gives a desert-like texture
  • Ease to clean and maintain

Does your bearded friend like to have a desert-like climate inside the terrarium? Instead of placing sand, which can be accidentally ingested, get home the Exo Terra Sand Mat substrate. This premium bearded dragon substrate recreates a desert environment inside the terrarium and makes your beardie comfortable and happy. It is a safe and hygienic substrate suitable for various types of reptiles as it limits the growth of bacteria inside the tank.

Eco-friendly and lightweight substrate sand mat is one of the best fitments for your bearded dragon sand flooring. The mat measures 47.5 * 17.5 inches, but it can be trimmed and cut to any desired size, and once placed inside the terrarium, it looks like a natural desert. The ease of maintenance is another factor why most reptile owners prefer this sand mat. If it gets dirty, take out the mat, rinse with cold water, and place it back in the tank.

Moreover, it is devoid of any loose materials, preventing accidental ingestion of particles and best suited if your reptile is still a baby. While traveling inside the tank, the bearded dragon feels comfortable as the sand mat creates a natural grip on the flooring.

Ultra-absorbent

Our Rating: 4.4/5
4.4/5
  • It is safe for the carnivorous reptiles
  • Effectively reduces the growth of pathogens and germs
  • If ingested accidentally, this substrate is easily digestible
  • Made from natural Alfalfa meal

Are you planning to bring home a carnivorous bearded dragon? Do you know in the wild they harvest on little insects and mammals? So you will need a terrarium that will not harm your pet even if it accidentally ingests a substrate particle. For this, the Zilla Alfalfa Meal Bearded Dragon Substrate is best suited. This substrate type is made from the Alfalfa meal, making it biodegradable and a natural substrate to keep your bearded dragon comfortable inside the tank.

Besides, by placing this substrate inside the tank, you can limit the growth of pathogens and bacteria as it comprises a bacteriostatic agent, making it entirely safe for your pet. Due to the presence of bacteriostatic agents, the substrate remains fresh for a longer span. It has high absorbent capabilities and requires a depth of one to two inches. If it gets soiled, users can replace it with a new one. This substrate is ideal for juvenile bearded dragons, tortoise, land turtles monitors, and iguanas. It also absorbs the bad odor and keeps the terrarium fresh.

Incredibly soft

Our Rating: 4.5/5
4.5/5
  • It is reusable and recyclable
  • Made of 100% natural coconut coir
  • Acts as a natural moisture retainer
  • It has an incredibly soft bedding

Are you looking for a loose substrate for your beardie? How about a substrate made from the coconut coir? Are you in a dilemma? Wait till you get home the Critters Comfort Coconut Reptile Bedding Organic Substrate. This bearded dragon substrate is made from the original coconut coir. It is free of harmful chemicals, fragrance, dust, and toxins. It is a natural product that has the innate ability to retain and eliminates odor. Even if your beardie is soiling the terrarium, your guests won’t know it!

This substrate can easily retain moisture and create an appropriate humid environment best suited to give your reptile friend a homely ambiance. It is durable and long-lasting with ease of maintenance. You can either clean the waste materials daily or, after 45 days, replace this substrate for a new one. As for the used substrate, instead of throwing it away, you can use it as an excellent compost for your garden.

It is incredibly soft bedding for the bearded dragons that can prevent abrasive cuts in the underbelly or feet. Before placing this substrate, focus on having enough ventilation inside the terrarium. Spread this substrate evenly and moisten it at frequent intervals to retain the humidity within the tank.

Best Odor Control

Our Rating: 4.6/5
4.6/5
  • Long-lasting and durable
  • Creates soft bedding for the bearded dragon
  • Easy to clean
  • Eliminates odor from the terrarium

Do you want to ease the hassle of maintaining your bearded dragon terrarium? Are you looking for a durable and long-lasting substrate? Then we recommend you to get home the Zoo Med ReptiFresh Odor Eliminating Substrate. It has a prolonged life span; thus, you don’t need to change your beardie’s comfortable bedding quite often. It has an excellent texture, so the bearded dragon will happily survive with this flooring by digging layers of tunnels.

This substrate contains minerals, which are beneficial for Leopard Geckos and bearded dragons. It is digestible, and as it is rich in minerals, so if your bearded dragon accidentally ingests it, it won’t pose any significant harm to them. It is easy to use, and all you have to do is pour the substrate inside the terrarium evenly, keeping thickness of about 2 inches.

Another good aspect of this flooring is that the waste is visible so you can scoop it easily and keep the terrarium clean. Besides, it is soft and resembles a natural forest floor for the bearded dragon to easily move around and dig tunnels. However, you will have to change it after a year.

Eco-friendly Option

Our Rating: 4.7/5
4.7/5
  • It is an eco-friendly product made of recycled plastic bottles
  • Easy to clean and remove waste materials
  • A premium substrate carpet
  • Devoid of loose particles
  • Extremely affordable

Can plastic bottles be eco-friendly for your reptiles? Yes, and it is one of the best substrates for bearded dragons. The zoo Med Eco Cage Carpet is a premium substrate for your reptile friend’s terrarium. This substrate is crafted from recycled plastic bottles and is devoid of loose particles. Hence it is best if your respite is still an infant as there is no risk of accidental ingestion of substrate. 

The substrate is highly absorbent and best suited for the beardies to walk on in a natural environment without risking some accidental cuts. The ease of maintenance is another eye-catching feature of this substrate—this non-abrasive bearded dragon carpet aids in scooping out the waste efficiently. Once soiled, you can rinse it in cold water and place it back in the terrarium. 

Made from recyclable plastic bottles, this substrate is exceptionally affordable. It is available in versatile sizes, and the largest has a dimension of 48 * 13 inches. However, you can easily cut it to any shape and size to suit the area of the bearded dragon tank.

100% Digestible

Our Rating: 4.7/5
4.7/5
  • Made of pure calcium
  • Consists of magnesium, strontium, and potassium
  • Acts as a natural odor neutralizer
  • Easily digestible
  • Makes the waste visible by clinging to it
  • Prevents the reptile from an accidental cut

Do you want a substrate that is comfortable and healthy for your beardie friend? Reptile Science Terrarium Sand is one such product. Enhancing the power of pure calcium, this is one of the best bearded dragon substrates comprising natural earth crust. It is a natural product that functions as a filter and aids in maintaining a clean terrarium for the reptiles. 

One imperative benefit of using this substrate as a natural bearded dragon bedding is that it consists of fine granules. Even if your little beardie accidentally ingests this substrate, it won’t result in stomach upset or pain. Besides, its soft bedding refrains from accidental cuts to the dragon’s delicate underbelly and feet. 

The ease of cleaning is another benefit that this product renders. The loose sand clings to the waste accumulated inside the tanks, thereby making the waste visible. So you can easily remove the waste material and keep the tank fresh and clean for long. This substrate is rich in potassium, magnesium, and strontium, all of which aids in neutralizing and removing odor from the tank. It is best to remove the waste from the tank daily and after every six months, replace the substrate.

Low maintenance

Our Rating: 4.8/5
4.8/5
  • It is a fixed terrarium liner devoid of loose particles
  • Can be trimmed and fitted to any sized enclosure
  • It has non-abrasive bedding
  • Controls odor with biodegradable enzymes

This is one of the best substrates for bearded dragons as it prevents irritation to your pet’s delicate feet. It is an eco-friendly terrarium liner crafted from non-abrasive materials and biodegradable enzymes. Hence this substrate functions as an absorbent and removes the unpleasant odor from the bearded dragon tanks.

It is a lightweight liner weighing 6.4 ounces. It has ease of maintenance and can fit into any bearded dragon enclosure. All you need to do is roll it out and cut it to the shape of the tank to make comfortable flooring. It is low maintenance bedding perfect to have a hassle-free pet experience with the bearded dragons. Placing it inside the bearded dragon tank resembles a brown or green color carpet, a perfect replica of the environment where these beardies dwell.

If it gets dirty, you can rinse it with cold water and place it back in the tanks. It is an ideal substrate as it has no loose particles, thereby reducing the chance of accidental ingestion as your pet tries to search for food on the bedding. It is ideal for juvenile reptiles and has earned the acclamation from the United States Association of Reptile Keepers.

Reusable For A Year

Our Rating: 4.8/5
4.8/5
  • Built from the natural bark of fir tree
  • Reusable up to a year
  • Creates a humid environment as it is hygroscopic
  • Helps in building a stimulating environment

If you are looking for a natural substrate for your bearded friend, this is the ideal product. It is crafted from the natural bark of fir trees. These substrates have the potential to naturally absorb moisture and have the ability to release humidity within the bearded dragon terrarium, thereby making these products hygroscopic. The Zoo Med Repti Bark comprises small chips with a large surface area that makes it highly absorbent. So if your bearded dragon finds solace in a humid environment with a rainforest vibe, get home this natural bark substrate.

Placing this substrate inside the bearded dragon enclosure, the heat gets evenly distributed and acts as a stimulant for your reptile friend’s ambiance. Bearded dragons also like to dig and burrow in the wild, and with natural bank substrate, you can give it a similar homely environment as they can dig in it. Moreover, as this is highly absorbent, it will absorb the waste and prevent contamination with the reptile.

It is reusable and easy to clean. After every 2-3 months, take it out from the tank, soak it in hot water, and rinse thoroughly. It is best to replace the substrate once a year. If you are feeding live food to your beardie friend, the interlocked small chips prevent thriving in the reptile’s substrate.

Editorial Pick

Our Rating: 4.9/5
4.9/5
  • It has incredibly soft and comfortable bedding
  • Recreates a forest floor look inside the terrarium
  • Can retain a high amount of moisture
  • Creates a humid environment inside the tank
  • Crafted from cypress mulch substance

Does your bearded dragon like a tropical climate? If so, you can create your bearded dragon flooring from the Zoo Med Forest Floor Bedding. Weighing 9 pounds, this substrate provides a natural environment with a forest floor look to the bearded dragon terrarium. It is a natural cypress mulch substrate that excellently retains the moisture. This will enhance the humidity level within the tank and make your reptile friend feel at home.

Such a substrate is ideal for amphibians, snakes, and reptiles as it prevents the growth of molds on the bearded dragon’s skin and refrains from staining the pet’s skin. It is budget-friendly and recreates a natural dwelling environment for the reptiles. It is soft and can cover the entire flooring and lasts long before you need to get a new one.

The best way to clean this flooring is by pouring water, preferably a cup or two inside the tank, and mixes it to eliminate the dirt. The substrate, however, dries over time. It is ideal for those bearded dragons who can gulp their food, but for the ones that are fed inside the tank, the forest flooring can pose a slight difficulty if the mulch is accidentally ingested.

Frequently Asked Questions

Now that you have decided to bring home a bearded dragon or even if you have one, you are aware of the best substrates that you can use to keep your reptile home in a friendly ambiance. But here are some of the common queries which most bearded dragon owners often have. Let’s have a look!

Is coconut substrate good for bearded dragons?

Bearded Dragons found in Australia mostly live in the natural forest habitat or sandy deserts. Hence coconut substrate resembles their natural habitat and makes them feel comfortable inside the terrarium. This substrate has ease of maintenance and gives natural flooring to the bearded dragon terrarium. But one imperative aspect about the coconut substrate is that it is indigestible, so safety and health risks can pertain, especially if it’s an infant bearded dragon. 
Consumption of this substrate can cause intestinal impaction, which can even become life-threatening for the bearded dragon. This happens when the bearded dragon misses its food and accidentally ingests the bedding substrate of the cage. So if you want to place coconut substrate as the bearded dragon flooring, it is best to feed them outside the tank or use a food bowl to prevent accidental consumption. Besides, give the bearded dragon enough water to improve their digestive system.

Can you use paper bedding for bearded dragons?

The bearded dragon substrates must be such which are natural, eco-friendly, and can be cleaned easily. So, placing newspapers, paper pallets, butcher paper, or recyclable products is the best bedding option. Newspapers are one the cheapest substrate available in the market for the bearded dragon. They can be removed and cleaned with ease and have no risk of health risk of substrate consumption. These are best suited for the infant bearded dragons and the hatchlings.
 But one cannot eliminate the potential risk that the newspaper ink poses. Besides, it’s a hassle for the owners to cut and trim the newspaper to fit the terrarium’s size. If you are using newspaper bedding, it’s necessary to have full coverage; else, there can be bugs underneath, which can attack the bearded dragon. Furthermore, paper bedding looks unattractive and doesn’t give a natural environment to the bearded dragons.

Is sand OK for bearded dragons?

Sand is not a bad substrate; in fact, playing sand for bearded dragons helps them practice their natural habit of digging tunnels. Most bearded dragons are accustomed to staying in dry woodland and desserts. But there is considerable controversy regarding sand usage as a substrate because accidental consumption of sand can pose a health risk for your oddly cute friend. This can be averted by ensuring that the beardie consumes enough calcium. They require calcium to strengthen their bone density and help them to grow.
Without adequate calcium, the beardie will fall sick. So in the wild, these bearded dragons infest on dirt to ensure their calcium intake. So, if your beardie feels its calcium intake is on low, it will ingest dirt. If you want to create a natural setup for the bearded dragon, then opt for a sand substrate made from calcium carbonate and quartz, the same type of sand found in the Australian Desert.

What happens if my bearded dragon eats sand?

Every problem has a solution, so even if your bearded dragon accidentally eats up sand you need not change the substrate with a reptile carpet. In fact, bearded dragons mostly enjoy staying in their natural habitat, and sand is one such substrate. These reptiles love to dig, create a multi-layer tunnel, and bury themselves in the comfort of the sand. So in order to perform this activity, you need to provide lots of calcium to your new pet. But if it isn’t enough, the bearded dragon can start consuming sand.
In that case, you can check with a vet to eradicate any significant health issues. The worst impact that sand consumption can cause is impaction, but this is secondary to the problems that arise due to lack of calcium, dehydration, or lighting. It also depends on the type of sand the bearded dragon has consumed as most of them are habituated to live in compact sand with rocks, unlike the play sands used as substrates.

What other things do bearded dragons need in their enclosure?

Once you have decided to bring home a bearded dragon, the foremost thing to focus on is buying the tank. You can select between—PVC cages, glass aquarium, vision cages, or melamine cages. Next is the tank cover, which is based on the size of the tank. You will also have to place adequate light, preferably basking bulbs or long fluorescent tube lights because bearded dragons require humidity and light. You can also place a ceramic heater to keep the terrarium warm.
Apart from finding the most comfortable substrate for bedding, the beardie will need accessories such as rocks and branches so the dragon can climb and create its secluded hideout. You can also place reptile hammock and hides, so they can refrain from light and sleep heavily for weeks. You can also place an impressive background for the bearded dragon tank and make the pet feel close to nature.

Conclusion

A substrate is the most essential part of decorating the bearded dragon tank. This not only provides them an ambiance close to nature but eradicates accidental cuts due to an uneven glass tank surface. A substrate will cover up the abrasions and give them soft bedding to walk around smoothly.

The bearded dragon is oddly cute little animals to pet, and its low maintenance is a cherry on the top for the owners. Deciding on giving them the best nutritional supplement to creating an abode, preferably a natural habitat with the right substrate choice, will entice the bearded dragon. If you plan to have a juvenile or infant bearded dragon, keep a watchful eye on loose particle substrate or place non-particle substrate to eliminate accidental consumption risks.

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