Selecting The Best Bedding for your Reptile


Setting up a new reptile habitat is an exciting, but sometimes confusing, task for many keepers. You have to decide what type of enclosure to use, figure out how you will light and heat the habitat and find a source for your reptile’s new food, among other things.

However selecting a bedding (additionally called a substrate) for the habitat is frequently one of the maximum bewildering concerns for fledgling keepers. The marketplace is overflowing with distinct products, and each declare to be better than all the other picks.

But never worry: we’re here to help reduce thru the confusion and come up with the statistics you want to make an informed desire. There are not any “proper” or “wrong” answers in relation to substrates, but there certainly are “higher” and “worse” selections. So, make yourself familiar with the basic forms of bedding on the market, don’t forget your puppy’s needs and try and make the high-quality desire feasible.

Substrate Hygiene and Maintenance

You’ll need to clean or replace your reptile’s substrate each time it becomes soiled, however the frequency of this will range relying at the species you preserve. Snakes for instance, might also simplest visit the bathroom as soon as every week or two, whilst maximum lizards and turtles will go on a each day foundation.

In case you use sheet-like substrates (together with paper cage liners), you’ll need to update the whole substrate whilst it becomes dirty. But others, which include mulches or wooden chips, can be spot wiped clean. Sand and mineral-based totally substrates can be sifted with a nice mesh sieve, as you’ll cat clutter.

Most substrates become dirty over time, and need periodic replacement to stop the habitat from becoming a bacteria-laden mess. Typically, wood and paper products require more frequent replacement than sands, clays and mineral-based beddings do. Gravel is really unique therein it’ll essentially last forever, assuming you wash it periodically.

However, albeit you notice clean a substrate daily, you’ll eventually got to replace it entirely. As a rule of thumb, you’ll want to exchange organic substrates about once monthly , while sand- and mineral-based substrates need only get replaced about twice per annum.

Subtrate Selection

Some of the most common and popular beddings are detailed below. Make sure that you consider all the pros and cons of any substrate before making your decision.


Carpet substrate for reptile

Small pieces of indoor-outdoor carpet are often used as substrates for several reptiles, particularly lizards. Often sold in packs of two (which allows you to wash one piece while using the opposite in your lizard’s cage), carpets are crazy your lizard’s feet and that they provide better traction than paper substrates do.

Carpet may be a convenient substrate, because it are often removed, washed and replaced without having to sift through sand or pick feces out of wood chips. There are many various color options for your carpet and terrarium liners. Some keepers don’t just like the unnatural look of a carpet-lined cage, but, this is often not a priority for your pet, as lizards don’t care what their habitat seems like – they only care how it functions.

Just make certain to scrub and replace your reptile’s carpet daily to stop bacteria from colonizing the substrate.

Carpet works well for:

  • Bearded dragons (Pogona vitticeps)
  • Leopard geckos (Eublepharis macularius)
  • Uromastyx (Uromastyx)
  • Chuckwallas (Sauromalus)
  • African fat-tailed geckos (Hemitheconyx caudicinctus)
  • Collared lizards (Crotaphytus)
  • Desert Iguanas (Dipsosaurus dorsalis)

Calcium Substrates

Calcium Substrates for reptile

Calcium substrates first came into trend within the late nineties, when they without delay became popular as an alternative to sand. Produced from calcium carbonate, as opposed to silica and other minerals, calcium sands are digestible.

Which means your lizard’s frame will in reality smash down calcium sand, permitting it to bypass through their frame fairly easily, in place of inflicting impactions. Calcium sands have a similar texture to sand, even though they regularly feel silkier, thanks to the distinction in particle size and shape (calcium sands commonly use rounded grains).

But, you could sift them in the identical way you’ll sand, and they’re clean to preserve clean like sand substrates too. They’re regularly barely greater steeply-priced than traditional sand substrates, however the small growth in price is effortlessly offset through the additional safety they provide.

Blue iguana reptilite calcium substrate works nicely, is available in numerous distinct colours and brandishes a reasonable price tag.

Calcium sand suitable for most lizards, including:

  • Bearded dragons
  • Leopard geckos
  • African fat-tailed geckos
  • Uromastyx
  • Chuckwallas
  • Collared lizards
  • Desert Iguanas


Best gravel for reptile

Gravel is a stimulating substrate that gives variety of unique benefits, but it also presents a couple of challenges, so it isn’t ideal for all critters. Gravel is most ordinarily utilized in aquatic habitats, but it can add some terrestrial habitats too.

When utilized in a water-filled tank, gravel provides visual appeal and is how to anchor plants and other decorative items. However, dirt and debris can accumulate in between the rocks, so frequent cleaning may be a must. Gravel is additionally helpful for providing a base layer in well-planted rainforest habitats.

One of the simplest things about gravel is that you simply can wash it and re-use it forever. the first drawback to gravel is its weight – gravel is heavy and difficult to maneuver about. Additionally, some reptiles are known to swallow gravel, which frequently results in tragic results.

The best thanks to avoid this is often by simply purchasing gravel comprised of rocks larger than your reptile’s head, thereby eliminating the likelihood that they’re going to swallow it. Zoo Med River Pebbles fits the bill perfectly, because it is meant to be safe for aquatic turtles of all sizes.

Gravel works well for:

  • Painted turtles (Chrysemys picta)
  • Red-eared sliders (Trachemys scripta elegans)
  • Snapping turtles (Chelydra serpentina)
  • Map turtles (Graptemys)
  • Horned frogs (Ceratophrys)
  • Firebelly toads (Bombina)

Mulched Wood

Mulched Wood for reptile

Mulch Wood products are similar to mulch that you see in the Yard section and park most of the hardware stores. But there are some important differences between being safe for reptile use and being marketed for outdoor use.

Mulch wood usually maintains moisture well, so they are most commonly used with species derived from moist habitats. Most of the Wood’s mulch is resistant to decay for an impressive period of time, but they will eventually need a replacement to ensure the habitat remains clean.

Two large mulch wood substrates include Zoo Med forest floor bed, which is mainly composed of cypress mulch, and Fluker’s Repta-Bark, consisting mainly of fir bark.

Mulch Wood Products are ideal for:

  • Ball pythons (Python regius)
  • Burmese pythons (Python bivittatus)
  • Green tree pythons (Morelia viridis)
  • Carpet pythons (Morelia spilota)
  • Blood pythons (Python brongersmai)
  • Reticulated pythons (Python reticulatus)
  • Emerald tree boas (Corallus caninus)
  • Amazon tree boas (Corallus hortulanus)
  • Beauty snakes (Orthriophis taeniurus)
  • Tegus (Tupinambis)
  • Panther chameleons (Furcifer pardalis)
  • Jackson’s chameleon (Trioceros jacksonii)
  • Veiled chameleons (Chamaeleo calyptratus)
  • Day geckos (Phelsuma)
  • Tokay geckos (Gekko gecko)
  • Leaf-tailed geckos (Uroplatus)
  • Crested geckos (Rhacodactylus ciliatus)
  • Basilisks (Basiliscus)
  • Blue tongue skinks (Tiliqua)
  • Green iguanas (Iguana iguana)
  • Frilled dragons (Chlamydosaurus kingii)
  • Green tree frogs (Hyla cinerea)
  • White’s tree frogs (Litoria caerulea)
  • Red-eyed tree frogs (Agalychnis callidryas)
  • Poison dart frogs (Dendrobates)
  • Rose hair tarantulas (Grammostola rosea)
  • Pink-toed tarantulas (Avicularia avicularia)
  • Emperor scorpions (Pandinus imperator)
  • Centipedes (Scolopendra)
  • Millipedes (Archispirostreptus gigas)

Chipped or Shaved Wood

Chipped or Shaved Wood for reptile iguana

This type of media should be changed every time to get wet or dirty, but the low price means that this is not a problem for most maintainer. The Aspen Med Zoo snake bed, is a great choice for those interested in an unpeeled wood substrate.

A broken or shaved wood substrate is a good choice for:

Common kingsnakes (Lampropeltis getula)
Milk Snakes (Lampropeltis triangulum)
Gray-banded Kingsnakes (Lampropeltis alterna)
Corn snakes (Pantherophis guttatus)
Black rat snakes (Pantherophis obsoletus)
Sand boas
Rosy boas

Coconut Husk

COCONUT HUSK for reptile

Coconut husk works in the utilitarian habitat, but is most often used in the creation of natural-looking habitats. In addition to using it as a substrate, you can actually coat the habitat wall with the fibers, by first applying a silicon layer, and then covering it with a coconut fiber layer. It not only looks great, but it will help resist more water, thereby increasing the moisture of the habitat.

Zoo Med Eco Earth is one of the first coconut husk substrates manufactured specifically for reptile use, and it is still the main choice among serious reptile enthusiasts everywhere.

Coconut husk substrates work in most situations where mulch wood works, including habitat containing:

  • Most boas
  • Most pythons
  • Most tropical geckos
  • Panther and Jackson’s chameleons
  • Blue tongue skinks
  • Tegus
  • Green iguanas
  • Most tree frogs
  • Poison dart frogs

Diggable Clay Substrate


Reptile keepers fought for years to develop a way in which they can provide digging opportunities in a safe and practical way, but there are not many good options. Some hobbyists will try to collect their own materials and mix the perfect substrate, but this is labor-intensive and rarely successful.

But modern reptile guards do not have to worry, because now there are some commercially processed clay products, which can be compacted enough to accommodate a tunnel system or a rut. Burrowing Clay’s substrate Burrowing Zoo Med is probably the most widely used among the guards, and it works well enough to dig creatures.

The diggable clay substrates are perfect for:

  • Savannah monitors (Varanus exanthematicus)
  • Nile monitor (Varanus niloticus)
  • Water monitors (Varanus salvator)
  • Spiny-tailed monitors (Varanus acanthurus)
  • Chuckwallas
  • Schneider’s skinks (Eumeces schneideri)
  • Five-lined skinks (Eumeces fasciatus)
  • Box turtles (Terrapene)
  • Russian tortoises (Testudo horsfieldii)


MOSS for reptile bedding room

Moss is usually used for decorating, not for proper substrates, but they make a nice bed for some circumstances. For example, Moss is usually able to absorb and withstand large amounts of water, and they take a very long time to rot. Therefore, they work well in terraria of super-humid rainforest and habitat “seeding “, which are used for hatching and newborn reptiles.

There are two types of moss commonly used in the Terarium: Sphagnum and Spain. Moss Sphagnum is more like a substrate than both, whereas Spanish moss is more commonly used as an ornament. However, both can be used in both contexts.

Mosses are best suited for:

  • Most hatchlings and newborns
  • Tokay geckos
  • Leaf-tailed geckos
  • Day geckos
  • Crested geckos
  • Green tree pythons
  • Amazon tree boas
  • Emerald tree boas
  • Leopard frogs (Lithobates pipiens)
  • Horned frogs
  • Green tree frogs
  • Red-eyed tree frogs
  • White’s tree frogs
  • Poison dart frogs
  • Pink-toed tarantulas
  • Emperor scorpions
  • Centipedes
  • Giant millipedes

Liner Paper

PAPER LINERS bedding rooms

Although they are not as attractive as other substrates, paper liners offer a number of benefits that make it popular among owners who prefer to store reptiles in an easy-to-maintain habitat or that have large collections. Paper substrates are also a fantastic option for new maintainer, who still study the ins and outs of reptile farms.

Although some guards use newspapers instead of commercially produced liners, which are specially designed to be used with reptiles, newspapers can cause a number of issues for your pet. For example, newspapers are seldom stored in a hygienic manner, which often causes them to contain bacteria. In addition, the ink used in newspapers will often be transmitted to your reptiles.

Therefore, it is more prudent to use commercially produced paper liners, such as the Zilla Green Terrarium Liners. It’s not only absorbent and easy to use, they come pre-cut for attachments of any size.

Paper liners are great for:

  • Boa constrictors
  • Ball pythons
  • Kingsnakes
  • Corn snakes
  • Rat snakes
  • Burmese pythons
  • Carpet pythons
  • Blood pythons
  • Reticulated pythons
  • Rosy boas
  • Leopard geckos
  • African fat-tailed geckos
  • Day geckos
  • Tokay geckos
  • Leaf-tailed geckos
  • Crested geckos
  • Panther chameleons
  • Veiled chameleons
  • Jackson’s chameleons
  • Blue tongue skinks


SAND for reptile

Sand is a good substrate for animals derived from dry habitats that resemble deserts. One of the more attractive substrates, the sand looks great in well-designed habitats, full of nice decorations and small fresh plants. Many manufacturers even offer several different colors that you can choose from (you can even unite the colors if you want).

The main drawback of sand is its potential to clog the intestinal tract of your pet, which can lead to serious medical problems. But there are some precautions you can take to help reduce this possibility of happening:

  1. Use fine sand that is marketed specifically for use with reptiles, rather than playing sand or sand construction. This sand is often full of big and sharp particles, which can hurt your reptiles. They are also very dusty, which can cause problems for you and your pet.
  2. Do not use the sand with young or small pets, because the small size makes the impeller more likely. As a general rule, you’ll want a beard dragon, Leopard Gecko, or your monitor lizard about 6 months old before turning it into sand.
  3. Feed your pet from the feeding plate, rather than directly from the substrate. Sand is often attached to vegetables or insects, so by feeding your pet from a dish, you will be spared from this problem. It may be difficult to find a dish that is high enough to contain crickets, but it is quite shallow that your pet can access it, so you may want to experiment with other types of feeders, such as Unclimbing roaches, super caterpillars and silkworms.

Sand substrates are good for:

  • Bearded dragons
  • Leopard geckos
  • African fat-tailed gecko
  • Sand boas (Eryx)
  • Rosy boas (Lichanura)
  • Uromastyx
  • Chuckwallas
  • Collared lizards
  • Desert Iguanas

Do you have a favorite media? Why would you rather this one than another? Tell us all about it in the comments-don’t forget to tell us what kind of reptile or amphibian you are saving as well.


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