Choosing the best substrate for a bearded dragon can be tricky. In this guide, we go over how to select a good substrate material, and what not to use as a substrate for a bearded dragon.
In simplest terms, the substrate is the covering of the floor in the bearded dragon’s enclosure. There are many different types of substrates you can use for your bearded dragon.
The best substrate for a bearded dragon is a highly controversial subject within the bearded dragon community. Many people are vehemently against using certain substrates, while others claim it’s the only one to use. The age of the bearded dragon, how much time you have for maintenance, and personal preference can determine which substrate you use.
With the right substrate and appealing plants and decor, you can create a very appealing and natural-looking terrarium. Below are several different substrates you can use in your bearded dragon habitat.
Sand and Similar Materials
In the wild, bearded dragons live on many different types of substrates. You may find bearded dragons in areas with sand, pebbles, or loamy soil.
Many bearded dragon owners feel that using sand as a substrate can increase the chances of gut impaction.
Gut impaction is when the bearded dragon ingests small foreign objects which leads to a blockage of the intestinal tract. These blockages can most likely lead to death if not treated immediately.
Many pet stores may offer pebbles or gravel as a bearded dragon substrate. Pebbles and gravel may lead to impaction if the bearded dragon swallows them over time. Peebles can also damage teeth and the jaw when accidentally grabbed when eating. We never recommend the use of pebbles or gravel as a suitable substrate.
Use non-silica sands with adult bearded dragons without worry of the chance of impaction. Make sure the sand is clean and free of foreign debris. We do not recommend sands for baby and juvenile bearded dragons.
There are reptile sands on the market which are made from calcium, such as Vita-Sand. The idea is that the calcium based sand will become metabolized when swallowed allowing the bearded dragon to easily pass it.
Some bearded dragon owners use calcium sands exclusively, while others say it can still cause impaction. We recommend to avoid using calcium sands for baby and juvenile bearded dragons.
Another substrate that you can use for your bearded dragon enclosure is reptile carpets, or cage liners. Reptile carpets are a synthetic carpet which simulates grass or deserts.
Lay cage liners across the floor of the enclosure to cover the bottom glass.
One worry of using cage liners is that the loops of the liner may get caught in the bearded dragon’s nails resulting in painful snags. The bearded dragon may react by pulling against the snag causing the nail to rip off.
Try to use a cage liner that has a tight weave to avoid this. Never use indoor/outdoor carpet.
Old newspapers make a suitable substrate for bearded dragon terrarium set-ups. Newspaper is easy to maintain, but it does not look as pleasing as other substrates. The use of newspaper is a sure-fire way to avoid impaction concerns.
Some pet stores sell a newspaper substrate that consists of washed and shredded recycled newspaper. This make 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.
Bark and Mulch
We do not recommend bark or mulch for bearded dragons. Bark and mulch can retain humidity, causing undesirable humidity levels.
One of the latest trends in bearded dragon husbandry is to use ceramic tiles for a substrate in the terrarium. You can easily find tiles at Lowe’s, Home Depot, or other home improvement stores.
Tiles are easy to clean while giving the terrarium an appealing setting. Use tiles to create a functional hide box. Using tiles as a floor covering eliminates small particles that lead to impaction issues.
Chris Swisher says
I have had a baby bearded dragon for about six months. This morning i found him dead in his cage. He hasn’t seemed to grow much at all. The only thing different was I purchased another baby dragon, and it was a bigger one, and put him in the tank with my other dragon 15 days ago. They seemed to get along fine. The one that died had a little bit of more watery stools the last few weeks. Was it ok to put them together? I feel terrible about this! What could have happened?
I have done the same thing, put two lizards in the same tank together. Bad bad idea :0 Some people think that only Males are Territorial, but Females are just as territorial as the males. Both of mine are females, and i purchased them from a friend of mine. When they came to my house in two separate tanks. I asked why this was so and he said that when he got them, they were in the same tank, and the bit bigger Female over domatanted the smaller one, but luckily i gave my lil’ sis the smaller dragon. And sweetie PLEASE don’t feel terrible about it. You did not know, it is okay!! If you ever decide to purchase another dragon, just keep that in mind. Good luck with your next Beardie :3
Izzy Worley says
Bearded dragons are solitary and should never be kept together permanently….they fight and dominate so one is always likely to get hurt or die.
charles brodie says
i built a 6x2x2 viv.kept male and female,for 9 months,substrate,bark,artificial grass,branches large pebbles,,many forms of fooda,,love therewhite worm,whichi have cultures for constant supply.be carefull how handle,carry salmanella,,but they very happy both have separate food dishes,,very happy together,,,,
So you use bark in your dragon tank? Do you like it and why? I have sand but it is way to dusty.
grantham college keep two bearded dragons together all the time and they have two sets of bearded dragons
but they keep male and female groups not same gender groups as they will fight for dominance
I had 2 females and a male in a big tank they got along great but some can be protective over food but they all got along great
Stop buying beardies if they keep dying why waste the money and kill 2 innocent reptiles who could have livewd a long happy life with a different owner
Bernard A Horowitz says
Rude answer. Nobody buys a pet and tries to kill it.
Stephanie m stone says
I killed two skinks. They just never ate. I tootk them to a pro who tried his best to get them eating. Eventually they both died. Now I have two beardies and they are great and very happy
Paul Rohn says
Right on man??
Chill out only one of his died
Thats a pretty rude thing to say. He feels bad already give him a break. Try helping him instead of making him feel worse then he already does. That’s a straight d**k thing to say to someone.
Many things could be wrong. Usually you will only want to keep dragons of the same size together. Even in the same clutch, I separate dragons that get substantially bigger as they will bully the little ones, bite them, keep them from eating and in some cases eat them or eat their tails.
Make sure to provide fresh veggies each day as well as small live insects every few days. You will have to make sure they are both (or all) getting both types of food, visually check. Do not feed dragons spinach as it causes diarrhea.
Sand impaction can also kill small dragons. Feed veggies in a dish that has a lip and feed insects in a cage free of sand or pebbles that can be ingested.
Mist your young dragons daily lightly until they stop licking it up. Do not give them sitting water all the time although they love to wiggle around in a shallow day for a few minutes each day and some will suck up the water instead of licking up the misting. Each dragon may do things differently. After my dragons are six to nine months old I do not offer a water bowl ever again. They get their water from fresh vegetables daily. Mist them only after you have offered food, in the morning, for at least an hour. They will try getting the water from the greens and other veggies, enhancing their health. And don’t give up like the last commenter suggested. We all make mistakes as I’m sure the last person did when they started.
What is a good bedding guys?
I have 2 in my tank! A male and a female and they get along just fine! They have been together for over 5 yrs now! They even had babies!
jordan Bearty says
How are you ? my name is Jordan and i was hoping you could help me with a few questions i have i have to bearded dragons and i would like to get some feed back.
Thank You for your time
Aww I’m so so sorry I know exactly what it feels like believe me…. I had a baby beardie and well my dad had put a little bit of a bigger one in there (told him not to but he didn’t listen) and they seemed to get along nothing every happened until one day… I found the older one eating on my baby…. (just his tail) well I couldn’t get baelfire (smaller one) out of his mouth but my sad did long story short he was fine for about two weeks he bled one wed. For like 30 min and I finally got it to stop the next day I came home from school and he was dead…
Omg Im so sorry to hear that, that’s very unfortunate I wish you the best of luck raising your beardies
I also had the same issue, I had to give one up for adoption and the other had a pretty sever bite that got infected with tail rot. Had to treat it in a Benadin bath for 2 weeks, Not worth the risk,
We have 5. The last 2 we purchased are living in the same tank and have been for a few months now. No issues. We plan on separating them once they become juveniles. You don’t want to have older beardies sharing a tank because they MAY fight. But babies can be house in the same tank with no issues.
I have 3 in the same tank no problem
We just got a Bearded dragon, Its 1 month old. This morning she looks as though she shedding her skin. Do they do that?
Tee Riddle says
Hi Nancy! Thank you for visiting our site and adding your question.
Shedding is absolutely normal! Bearded dragons shed their skin as they grow. It is quite common for a baby bearded dragon to shed as much as 6 – 10 times a year. Mist your beardie frequently while they are shedding to help loosen the skin. A bath in lukewarm water will help as well. Hope this helps!
Why haven’t you done your research before getting a bearded dragon or any animal for that matter?
you don’t need to be so rude. Sometimes you can do hours upon hours of reasearch and still not know basic things. If you’re gonna comment, try to be helpful and not rude
I have a 3 and a half year old bearded dragon I out pellets in the cage reptile pellets and bedding is that fine? Bc crickets kept comeing under the news paper
Tee Riddle says
Hi Justin, what kind of pellets are you asking about? At 3 and a half years old, pellets should be alright to use as long as they are either digestible or large enough that the beardie can’t swallow them. If the pellets are not digestible but small enough to swallow then they could (and most likely would) cause impaction issues. Make sure the pellets are not made of materials that could be toxic to reptiles or develop any harmful fumes. If it is made specifically for reptile then it may be okay to use.
As far as bedding, I wouldn’t recommend using the wood shavings-type of bedding. That’s mainly used for snakes and not good for bearded dragons.
Hi i am getting a baby beardy soon and i dont know what type of bedding i should use for a baby beardy?
i would totally recommend either paper towels or a reptile carpet. both work great, although crickets like to crawl under the paper towels, but the carpet is a little harder to clean. Just what ever you would like. Just, nothing lose like sand or pebbles that the baby can ingest. I hope this helped!
What about the Vita-Sand it is made of Calcium?
I recommend using a vinyl tile flooring. It is very easy to clean, and depending on what type of texture you get; easily allows bearded dragons to get around their terrarium and catch prey. Vinyl flooring also has a reasonable price 🙂
My favorite bedding for newborns to six months has been cage carpet. No impaction problems, easy to clean, and very clean and sanitary when simply hosed off or washed off every few days to each week. No sand, no walnut, no rocks at this age.
Newspaper is your best bet for a baby bearded dragon. Mine are about 8 months old now bit I still keep them on newspaper and they are very jappy and healthy babies. DO NOT use sand whatever you do when they are babies as it could impaction which you definitely dont want to happen.
Good luck with your new baby! ^_^ xxxxx
Brandon Kester says
I am going on different websites and there telling me to not us walnut sand for bearded dragons but that is what i have been using for about 3-4 years so should I stop using it and get something else and what is the BEST for bearded dragons
Tee Riddle says
I highly recommend NOT using ground walnut shells. There is a very high risk of impaction with this substrate. The ground walnut shells clump together very easily when wet increasing the chances of an digestive tract blockage. I once found this out the hard way when I first started caring for bearded dragons. The best substrate I recommend is either newspaper, terrarium carpet, or ceramic/stone tiles.
I hope this helps and good luck!
Yesterday I gave her chopped up small pieces of Apple , I hope that didn’t cause any kind of blockage we are all so upset . She was the most placid beardie ever !
Actually apples are fine so don’t worry about your bearded dragon they can actually eat apples.
I usually try to use a vegetable shredder when offering my apples, making them more digestible. They also love berries, whole or sliced…especially blueberries and strawberries. I hand feed mine whole blueberries and slices of strawberries with the green end on!
Megan Voyer says
I have recently gotten my long term Bf a baby beardie who is doing very well 🙂 We have done a TON of research and I myself have cared for a king snake and 2 leapord geckos. As it is a baby we have it on reptile carpet to keep impaction from being an issue. We will be putting her/him on some kind of sand substrate when it is large enough. I appreciate that it is a bit controversial but i have used it before with no issue and intend on doing so again. Now my question is, what is the best sand/faux sand to use? I have heard regular sand box sand is the best but am looking for a bit more direction.
Tee Riddle says
That’s a very good question, and one that is open to much debate. Everyone has their own preferences and opinions on substrate. In most cases once a bearded dragon is a full adult you can use a sand-type substrate, but there is still always a chance of impaction. Anything they can potentially swallow can cause a blockage. Even if the bearded dragon just swallows a tiny bit it can build up over time leading to impaction. Impaction doesn’t occur all at once in most cases, but builds up over time leading to a partial, or full-on, blockage.
I recommend waiting until your bearded dragon is at least a year and a half old until introducing a loose particle substrate, and even then I also recommend feeding in a different terrarium that has a reptile carpet, newspaper, or bare bottom to reduce the chances of impaction.
If you are set on using a sand style substrate I would go with a non-silica playground/sand box sand over using the calcium-based “reptile” sands.
I think it is also a good thing to really watch a Beardie. They lick everything all of the time and once you realise how often they do lick I believe that it may help make your mind up not to use sand or chips for them.
Mine have sand coloured towels that they have and get washed easily when needed with spares always kept to change them with. I have no issues with it at all and am very fortunate that bath time is also toilet time so the enclosure is always clean other than the tossed salad by the end of the day… Food dish and water dish are on a small tray to help with spillage so towels tend to last about a week I find.
Hope that helps… oh and for anyone that thinks it strange to use towels… I was watching some videos on YouTube and there is a guy who has a dogs cushion in one of his vivs. Its the type that has the cushion around the edges and the flat bit in the middle. Looked funny but they liked that too as there was climbing angle where the cushion is for them. I guess it can also wash easily when needed.
I use vita-sand but oh the dust. I’m looking for something new
Non silica sand only. Box sand from a Walmart will kill them. I find that sand is fine and even the most enjoyable for bearded dragons. They love to burrow and dig. When the beardies are small be sure to do all their feeding in a separate tank or container without sand. When older and larger, no problem. I use ReptiSand or CalciSand. Been using it and breeding in it for decades with no problem.
But it’s so dusty. I use a orange color and my dragons are orange until bath time.
I don’t know how old my dragon is or what sex it seems very healthy and happy i would like to know what is the best bedding ive been using sand for about three years recently someone told me sand was no good
Would paper towels be fine? What if I put the paper towels through a shredder? Could that cause blockage and what is the chance of it eating the paper? Paper towels that are cut into thin long shreds.
I have had my 18 month old bearded dragon for about a month now. He has a sand substrate and I want to change it as I’ve read so many bad reviews of sand, I don’t want him to get ill and am worried this will happen and I won’t be able to see any signs, what substrate would you recommend I change it too? I’ve done lots of research but could really do with some help 🙁
Sand is okay with some cautions. Small dragons, 0-8 months should be fed in a separate container of tank without sand. Use cage carpet or newspapers for substrate in feeding cage. As adults sand is fine, they love it! Use a non silica sand as a box sand from Walmart or Kmart will kill them. I use and have been usuing ReptiSand and/or CalciSand for decades with no problem.
I just got my first ever bearded dragon yesterday and was wondering how to feed it. I read all different things they can eat, so I got a thing of crickets (not alive) and a can of worms also not alive is this ok? And how do we feed it the veggies and fruits is that suppose to be in the tank at alll times?
Just, make sure the crickets are alive, they will definitely eat then. With greens, some beardies just wont eat them. Combine mealworms (not a lot though) and some greens, he/she might eat the greens then
I have kept and bred beardies for decades. I have never had a baby or adult that did not eat greens and other veggies. This can happen when they are given a bowl of water, which is not necessary for adults, and only necessary for 10 minutes a day while misting with babies 0-8 months old. I serve finely shredded collards, mustard greens, most salad greens except for spinach (which can cause diarrhea), zucchini squash, summer squash, carrots and some others if on hand. I serve this early in the morning, before offering any water at all, then serve live insects later in the day, followed by one or two mistings a day for babies with a possible shallow dish bath for 10 minutes or so. In adults I offer no water, no standing water and no mistings. All water is taken in with the veggies and a dragon is supposed to eat 20 percent veggies and 80 percent insects up to 6-9 month, and then it is 20 percent insects and 80 percent veggies as adults (9 months and older).
I also offer a live rodent once every one to three months for complete nutrition. This is not possible until they are about 9 months old or older, starting with pinkie mice and working up to pinkie rats or even small adult mice as adults.
I will be going to Scotland for two weeks and was wandering what would be the best thing to do with my beardie. Most of my family is coming with and my best friend has 5 syblings so I can’t place him in her care.
What should I do?
Debbie Femrite says
I too am going on a trip in October to England for 2 weeks. What you should find is a pet store or veterinarian who is knowledgeable about bearded dragons and see if they will take it for that length of time. Good luck in hunting.
You can fill a large bowl with fresh veggies to be eaten over about three days. Feed them really hard before you go…lots of live insects and big bowls of veggies for a whole week before leaving. Do not leave standing water, they don’t need it. They will be fine on their own for two weeks after this care.
This is for adult dragons, healthy dragons only. Babies will die in two weeks without care.
I have a 9 month old Beardy that I recently moved to a larger 50 gallon enclosure. I also changed from carpet to sand substrate. He doesn’t seem to like it at all. He has also not been eating much since moving into his new home. It’s been about a week now. Not sure if it’s the new surroundings or the floor that’s bothering him.
It could be that the new enclosure is too large for your juvenile beardie. As I see your post is old and he has probably grown a few inches…but for future reference placing a baby beardie in an overwhelmingly large tank can stress him out, make it difficult for him to find a sufficient temperature gradient, and also make it extremely difficult for him to find his food with so many places for his live insects to run away to.
Hope all is well!
So i have a 3 year old beardie and he is on pellets. My question is do we have to freezes the pellets frist to kill any bugs?
My son recently got a baby bearded dragon. He named him Destro and because my son is only 6 I have been caring for him. He was purchased January 9th, Im not sure how old he was but he was definitely a baby. He was doing great and had gone through a shedding process and then one day about 4 days ago he just stopped being active. He wasn’t running around anymore, he stopped eating, he wasn’t drinking (well he/she, never were sure yet what sex it was). Anyway, I did a ton of research online and a lot of signs seemed to point to brumation even though under a year seemed rare but possible. Until this morning…. when we went to turn his light on and wake him up he was dead 🙁 It crushed me and when my son got home I had to break the news to him and it wasn’t pleasant to say the least. The only thing I can think of was that he had eaten a cricket that was maybe a little too big and it caused blockage. Im so upset at the fact that he may have died from my stupidity but the pet stores have big and small crickets separated and I still get medium to large ones that slipped by me. I fell inlove with the little guy so im definitely going to try this again but I want to make sure this doesn’t happen again. Should I be the picky person the pet store hates and make them pick out tiny crickets only or just pick them out myself and lose a little bit of product for what I pay? Or is there a better food I can feed the little guy until he gets bigger so I can assure that he grows happy healthy and big and stays with us for years this time?
I have two 7 month old bearded dragons. I got a bigger tank and I’m not fond of the carpet. What else can I use. Is a mix of sand and top soil ok. I read an article that said it would work.
Hey my bearded dragon aka Paarthurnax, is 9 1/2 inches long can I go ahead and switch out my carpet for substrate? Or will I need to wait a bit longer if so how big do you suggest he gets?
My beardie has always used a standard pet store sand as a substrate (I would never use sandbox sand) because I find it has the lowest chance of building up mildew when I mist her. I do feed her salad and fruit in a bowl inside the tank, and take her out so she can hunt superworms on the floor without risk of them hiding, and I DO make sure all sand is out of her bowl before filling it, but I’m wondering if i should switch to calcium sand and if it would still be as resistant to moisture. She’s never had a problem and she’s already 6 years old, But I do worry about my girl.
I rescued a beardy from someone that wasnt caring for it at all..long story..about 6 months ago. I have him on the carpet-like stuff. Other than vacuuming it regularly, is there a way to clean it more thoroughly or would replacing a couple times a year be best? He’s a few years old but I don’t know exactly how old he is.
I did the same thing! And I clean the carpet in the bathtub using antibacterial handsoap in lukewarm water bc its mild, and will kill the germs. Thdn I wring it out and throw it in the dryer(no dryer sheets) high temperature. Kyoko, my baby, loves it! I also lay clean paper towels underneath the carpet to absorb spills. Definitely helps with keeping the humidity low.
I have also tried the calcium sand, and it holds moisture, so I removed it from the cage bc the humidity got so high that it caused my baby to wheeze and cough. As soon as I went back to the carpet and paper towels underneath, the same day, the cough stopped =) I have wondered about trying the sand mats, if I do, I’ll post some info.
I recently bought a baby beardie and the guy at the pet store told me to use a calcium based sand for substrate. Upon further research I found out that sand is not good for the babies due to impaction. I’m ditching the sand this weekend and replacing it with tile because it looks nice and it’s easy to clean. My question is would tile be fine for a baby? If so what type should I get?
Bryce Cross says
Is it okay that I have my bearded dragon a wood type bedding
I just want to say ‘be careful’ with the vita sand. We bought two baby beardies, and used the vita sand, as we thought it would be the most beneficial to our little babies. Well, they both ate the sand, and died from compaction. We now have 3 that we have been using ground walnut shell bedding with, and they are 3 years old. I think that calcified sand is not a good idea, but I’m sure others have had success with it.
I forgot to mention that, when we went to visit our local aquatic store after the two we had passed, one of the owners who had been breeding beardies for years was there, and had informed us that the lizards, especially babies, can be attracted to the nutrients in the vita sand, causing them to consume, where they wouldn’t with normal sandbox sand.
melissa shoske says
I’m planning on getting a bearded dragon and i have adult pellet food already. I’m hoping a breeder might have an adult for sale but i can’t find one anywhere that i can actually buy the dragon. other breeders show you who they sold, who they’re breeding with, and then you cant actually buy any adults! does anyone know where i can get an adult bearded dragon from a reliable resource?
Hi all i have a beardy and he is in a 4 foot tank. I keep getting told the best flooring for him is sand paper because firstly it keeps their nails down and second it cant be eaten and bugs cant hide under it is this a good thing if so please let me know and ill change it today
Sand paper is going to be a VERY expensive substrate. You will be much better off using newspaper or ceramic tile. The crickets can hide under the newspaper but that’s a minor issue. Most of the crickets don’t live long enough to hide anyway. Lol. As far as keeping their nails trimmed. Use finger nail clippers. Just be very careful to only take off the tip, as their nails are like a dogs. If you cut too much off they can bleed.
I don’t know how old my dragon is or what sex it seems very healthy and happy i would like to know what is the best bedding ive been using sand for about three years recently someone told me sand was no good
I have 2 bearded dragons we bought in August. One is growing rapidly one is not growing as fast, both are believed to be female. One is a Red sanfire, the other citrus dunnee… do they typically grow at different rates? I aslo have a question about the subtrate. Currently we have indoor outdoor carpte cut to fit the tank, however the crickets keep going under the carpting. What can we use that would be best to keep the crickets in eatable places?
I do not recommend vita sand or sand with calcium in it. Most reptiles like the taste of calcium, so if they learn the sand tastes like calcium, they are gonna start eating it. Although the calcium should help the impaction problem, it doesn’t if they eat to much of it. Therefore I would recommend using normal reptile sand in the terrarium and taking them out and feeding them live food in a box, cricket keeper, etc, so that they would have no reason to eat sand.Another good idea would be to keep them on paper towel and then have a small sandbox for if they want to dig. Baby beardies shouldn’t be on sand anyways. They are curious little things and they might accidentally eat it. Hope that helps.
ive got a male and female beardie they are 4 years old and recently the male dragon has been dragging the female around the vivarium is this normal the male is quite a bit bigger than the female
My male and female have been kept successfully for over 9 years (the male we quickly found out at juvenile stage was not a female) in my experience even when mating I never saw this behavior, even in their prime. To me it sounds like you may want to separate them. Generally you should keep no less then 2 females with a male as they will harass only 1 female. I was just lucky with my male being very docile. Hope that helps.
Hi my Beardie dragon is 9 months old. I got her when she was 4 weeks and have had her on paper towel bedding. She tears up the paper towels trying to dig. Should I put sand in for her? Someone told me to use children’s play sand.
kayleigh metcalfe says
Hi am thinking about getting tiles to put into my tank before i get a beardie dragon i was wondering can i wash them with hot soapy water or do i need to wash them with reptile cleaning spray
Hi all! I have kept beardies in the past, always brought the set up with the dragon tho and just always used the sand that came with the dragon! But about 2months ago I toke on a beardie that was very neglected! Came with viv etc He is now doing great himself but he is a messy bugger!! I have been told newspaper and kitchen roll is good for a substrate as I a currently buying 2-3 bags of sand a week! I don’t mind buying it but if I can find a cheaper option it would be great! Does anyone recommend using newspaper and kitchen roll?! I am thinking of shredding it all and puttin it down?!
We clean out d ago a often but the smell is still bothering me- Any suggestions? When I say clean I mean scoop the poop daily and once a week to week and a 1/2 change the sand- it’s still enough to gag me. We got them in January when they were about 3″ now they are 14″ and 8″ long. They are in a 60 gallon tank I believe. Thank you
I rescued an adult bearded dragon who is about 5 years of age. The previous owners took little to no care of him and developed partial paralysis. He has little ability in his front legs and none in his hind legs. Since he can’t hold himself up, he crawls and often finds himself stuck on his back. The owners before me kept him in a sand substrate and he had sand stuck in his eyes. It took months to slowly clear his eyes and had to switch to tiles as a base. Unfortunately, the tiles are too hard of a surface when he’s stuck on his back. Most mats they have to offer wouldn’t work for him, if his claw gets caught and rolls, he could injure his arms worse. I’ve heard newspaper ideas or shavings but with how he moves his body, he wouldn’t be able to move very well through his terrarium. I am searching for the best substrate to use for my disabled dragon. Any ideas would be appreciated.
I have a 1 year old bearded dragon and the substrate for her cage is alfalfa. It needs to be replaced but I am unsure whether to get alfalfa again or to try another bedding. I have noticed that the humidity levels of her cage are extremely high so I am hesitant to buy it again. She has had no health problems at all and is super healthy so I don’t really want to change anything in less I have to. The temperature on the warm side of her cage is 85º to 95º, and she has a really small water bowl. Any ideas would greatly appreciated.
Hi. I have a one year old fancy bearded dragon who is very healthy. It has come time to clean out her cage and I am unsure if the substrate that I am using now is ok. I am currently using alfalfa and everything is going well, but I have noticed that the humidity level of her cage is extremely high. Because of this I am hesitant to buy it again. Do you think it is because of the substrate? She is in a 40 gallon tank and has a very small water bowl. If this is the cause, then what substrate should I use because I don’t wan to interfere with her health. Any ideas would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!
Has anyone ever used zoo med excavator clay burrowing substrate? I am thinking about geting it but not sure
Hi, I’m going to be getting my 1st Beardie, in a few weeks time. I’m picking up a Viv this weekend. I’m a bit torn with substrates. The local reptile shop, recommends Beech chips. Whilst I can find many places that sell it, There doesn’t seem to be any views on it. My other thoughts are a couple of slate tiles on lizard carpet. Or would laminate flooring, with a textured surface be ok? Any help appreciated.
Tee Riddle says
I’ve never heard of using Beech chips as a substrate for bearded dragons. I would not recommend it for a couple reasons – 1. If the chips are small enough for the bearded dragon to swallow you will surely be facing impaction issues at some point and the bearded dragon will most likely die. 2. Most wood chips have the tendency to wick and hold moisture which can increase the humidity within the enclosure. Medium to high humidity levels are generally not good for a bearded dragon as they thrive better in dry, arid air.
I’m also not sure about laminate flooring as it tends to warp and separate if it gets wet. So, if you have a water bowl and your bearded dragon likes to splash around in the bowl you will be replacing the laminate flooring pretty regularly. Also, some laminate flooring is made with glues and epoxies that may emit fumes that could be harmful or toxic to your bearded dragon.
I would recommend the slate tiles with lizard carpet, especially if it is a baby bearded dragon. Babies are much more susceptible to swallowing small object that they can not pass which leads to impaction.
I hope this helps, Ben, and thanks for your comment!
I’ve been given a 4 year old female beardie to look after by a friend that’s had to move and can’t take her with him. He always put Coco in her viv…these are Coco bricks dissolved in water to soften. As I’ve had a read up on how to look after one I’ve seen no mention of using this stuff so should I change it to something else? He also only fed her on curly kale, rocket and locusts. I’ve given her some fruit today as well as I think she needs a varied diet. All he gave me was this viv and it’s got a light in one side. She was freezing this morning when I went to turn her light on. Does she need anything else?
Yes, she should have a heat lamp or rock, especially if she was shivering in the morning. They shouldn’t get too cold, as their natural habitat is in the desert. I get that this was a little late, but hopefully this helps someone else. Good luck! ?
I put my beardie in sand. Had im in sand since he was 10 days old. To avoid impaction i feed in another tank. Alot of beardie owners will say tisk tisk. But in my eyes im making it just like the wild. I use logs and rocks from outside. When he is older i will not feed in a seprate tank because he will be alot better at getting his insects and i wont have to worry about impaction. Im not sating what im doing is the absolute best. But i do want my beardie to have the wild experience. I dont believe taking a wild animal and making their living space how i want it. I research what kinda substrate they live on in the wild and i mimic that as much as i can. When he is a little older ill go bioactive. But whatever you beardie lovers choose and substrate is up to you. Im just here to say what i have and what works for me. Just like ppl have been saying all beardies are different.
Wouldn’t be good for the beardie if under 9 months old, as the babies love exploring and are curious. It’s good you’re trying to keep it like a desert, but please keep in mind the health of your beardie. Also, when collecting decor and stuff from outside, make sure you clean it because there may be chemicals harmful to the beardie. Good luck! ?
I REALLY do not think it is good to have your bearded dragon on sand, even if you feed him on a separate substrate (which, by the way. definitely hels in keeping your beardie from impaction). Because, and it’s ok if you didn’t know this, bearded dragons like to lick random things, and it may already have sand in his intestines. I suggest removing the sand substrate immediately and replacing it with reptile carpet, newspaper, or a special traction tile. Hope this helps!!
i take issue with everyone saying all sand cause compaction especially when bearded dragons LIVE in desserts.
I need help with my new baby bearded dragon. I have had him/her for about 3 weeks now, he/she was doing good at first but now he/she seems to not move his back legs. I have him in a 20 gallon tank with carpet. My boyfriend put a rock and a stick in his tank. I been trying to feed him greens, meal warms and small crickets but he doesn’t eat the greens. Petsmart ran out of small crickets and my BF gave him a big cricket. Will that hurt him to were he can’t move his back legs? I need help and advice to know what to do to make him happy again.
Nate Brack says
How’s he doing now? And btw I’m no expert but that could be impaction. Bathe him in lukewarm water for about a half an hour (or until he poops) and rub his stomach. This will help with impaction if he has it.
Sam price says
Hi does anyone know if I can actually grow and use live grass as the floor in my bearded dragons tank say if u buy some turf and then put it in and water it etc will this be okay ?
G M says
DO NOT USE ANY TYPE OF SAND!!!!!!!!
Bearded Dragons are dessert lizards, but the sand in Australia is not like the sand they sell to us at the pet store. The sand they live in is more similar to dirt. It is not loose, like regular sand, also they live in the woodlands as well, so a bunch of crunchy leaves and twigs. But never use sand, not even for leopard geckos! SO HARMFUL. Please never use sand if you actually care about your reptile.
Not all types of sand are harmful, but please no sand if the beardie is a baby, they are too curious and will probably eat it. Keep that in mind.
Can you use a bathing towel (the cloth) as the bottom of your bearded dragon cage? It gets really cold at night and I feel this would be a better way to keep warm along with the ceramic head lamp
Hareeb alls says
my bearded dragon has aids how do i fix this
Danielle White says
I have a beardie that’s around 5 to 6 months old and I have been using paper towels for it’s bedding. I have mulch that I use for my snakes would it be okay to use for my beardie as well
I wouldn’t recommend it, because the beardie can ingest it, no matter how old. Maybe use a reptile carpet or newspaper, or if he/she is an adult, you might consider sand.
Paper towels are fine too, especially with a reptile carpet over them. They will absorb any water spills, if the beardie enjoys splashing. ?
I have been using crushed walnut as a substrate for my bearded dragon. Is this okay to use or should I switch?
Tee Riddle says
I recommend you switch from using crushed walnut shells for substrate. The crushed walnut shells can be accidentally swallowed by the bearded dragon and lead to possible impaction. For a baby bearded dragon I recommend newspaper, paper towels, or something similar.
We have a one and 1/2 year old female beardie that we purchased as a baby. We keep her on clay tile. Years ago, we rescued a 5 year old male beardie that had been kept on wood chips. At the initial vet examination his x-rays revealed a morbidly impacted and irreversibly distended digestive tract. Sincerely recommend against a substrate that could be ingested.
Isaiah Phillips says
I have a bearded dragon and I don’t know what do to to make his terrarium nice. Its a 50 gallon tank with a long hammock that goes all the way across. He has some artificial grass in there also. I want to add sand though. Should I fill half of the terrarium with sand and the other half with the grass? If anyone has good Ideas please let me know! Thank you!
Is Zoo-Med vita sand safe for my Bearded Dragon?
Please people if your thinking about getting a baby bearded dragon..DONT..unless you have all day to take care of them..they need alot of work..even as adults..in getting SICK of hearing about these issues..they need constant attention..PLEASE research ALOT before even buying one..I knew nothing about them..I rescued one from someone..he was a year old and in bad shape..I busted my ass to help him..now he is 17 months old..18 inches and 480gr..perfect shape..it was hard and stressful..but it was worth it..
pedro ziparo says
it’s still a bad idea too because the could get in a fight over food I wouldn’t do that