Best Substrate For Bearded Dragons: Product Reviews & Buyer’s Guide

best substrate for bearded dragons

Preparing a comfortable and good accommodation for your bearded dragon is very important so choosing the best substrate for bearded dragons or bedding, the material put on the floor surface, will have direct positive influences on the health and enrichment of your lizard.

This is because they could help prevent impaction, disease, and other things that can harm your pet.

There are many opinions about choosing the best flooring for bearded dragons such as loose or solid, flat or uneven, and so on.

While loose bedding is recommended as it allows the lizard to burrow into,  flat surfaces like reptile mats are said to be better, and each type always has advantages and disadvantages.

If you are looking for best bearded dragon substrate, don’t hesitate to check out our reviews to get the best choice for your pet.


Reptile mats and terrarium liners


You will find it easy to clean and replace as reptile mats and terrarium liners don’t create dust.

Maybe you will be afraid that your bearded dragon will eat some pieces of them, which leads to many dangerous results but don’t worry because they are not edible.

Also, many terrarium liners are safe for both juveniles and adults.


On the other hand, there are some drawbacks to this kind of product.

You should have your dragon’s nails trimmed to stop them from getting caught on the surface.

Secondly, two liners are recommended to be purchased because you’ll want a clean, dry one to place in the cage while the dirty one dries.

Top 12 Best Substrate For Bearded Dragons chosen by Customers

Product imagesProduct namesEditor's ratingPrice
Zilla Reptile Terrarium Bedding Substrate Liner4.6Check
ZooMed Eco Cage Carpet for 55 Gallon tanks, 13”x48”4.6Check
Repti Cage Carpet for Reptile Cages4.5Check
Hamiledyi Reptile Carpet4.4Check
Zilla Ground English Walnut Shells Desert Blend4.6Check
Zoo Med Excavator Clay Burrowing Substrate4.3Check
Exo Tera Desert Sand Black4.4Check
Zoo Med ReptiFresh Odor-Eliminating Substrate4.5Check
Zoo Med Forest Floor Bedding4.7Check
Zoo Med Eco Earth Loose Coconut Fiber4.6Check
Zoo Med Repti Bark4.7Check
Zoo Med Reptile Cage Carpet4.5Check

A Quick Glance Into Some Bearded Dragon Substrate

1. Zilla Reptile Terrarium Bedding Substrate Liner

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Zilla Reptile Terrarium Bedding Substrate LinerThere is a variety of colors and sizes of Zilla’s terrarium liners you can freely take one you like. Especially, unlike walnut shells or sand, a terrarium liner is unedible so it would be suitable for both juvenile and adult bearded dragons.

Additionally, this product is so friendly to the environment as it’s made from recycled materials, which allows you to reuse it.

You also find it easy to clean or tidy as you just need to shake off dried poop and leftover food, then rinse the liner with cold water.

For the best results, we recommend that you should buy two liners so that you can flexibly use a clean one in the aquarium and wash the other.

Many of you will be afraid of odor but don’t worry as Zilla says that it’s treated with biodegradable enzymes to reduce smells. Especially, with the high quality of materials, Zilla’s terrarium liners are completely nonabrasive and absorbent.

However, in case your dragon’s nails are long, this can make your bearded dragon get caught on the substrate so pet owners should trim your dragon’s nails.


  • Easily be cut to fit the size of the cage
  • NO get caught or be ingested
  • Soft and non-abrasive materials


  • Doesn’t deal with heat well and may absorb liquid

2. ZooMed Eco Cage Carpet for 55 Gallon tanks, 13”x48”

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ZooMed Eco Cage Carpet for 55 Gallon tanks, 13”x48”

To prevent your dragon’s nails from snagging on the surface, you should trim these nails. But you have to make sure that your bearded dragon will ingest the post-consumer recycled plastic.


  • Washable reptile carpet
  • Won’t irritate your beardie’s scales

3. Repti Cage Carpet for Reptile Cages

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Repti Cage Carpet for Reptile Cages

A reptile cage carpet will surprise you when suing as. Firstly, it is completely secure for your pet as it does not contain many chemicals and any sharp texture affecting the skin and eyes of reptiles.

Secondly, you can reuse many times, what you need to do is cleaning.

4. Hamiledyi Reptile Carpet, Natural Coconut Fiber Carpet for Pet Terrarium Liner

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Hamiledyi Reptile Carpet

This is also a good option when choosing the right substrate due to non-abrasive coconut fiber carpet, and you can easily trim it to fit the enclosure of your bearded dragon.

Especially, it can help reduce odor or smell with a biodegradable enzyme. To make it clear, you can use cold water to wash it.

5. Zilla Ground English Walnut Shells Desert Blend

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Zilla Ground English Walnut Shells Desert Blend

Ground English Walnut shells are produced in tiny rounded and uniform pieces, which allows your beardie to dig as the shells, unlike sand, don’t stick to the reptile’s body.

Additionally, no strong odor can be found in this bedding and you don’t have to worry about a lot of dust. However, you have to make sure not to use this type of substrate for hatchlings or juveniles.


  • Soft and fine texture.
  • Friendly natural materials, harmless and non-toxic
  • Realistic-looking desert environment


  • No retain heat like sand
  • Can accidentally be ingested

6. Zoo Med Excavator Clay Burrowing Substrate

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Zoo Med Excavator Clay Burrowing Substrate

The Excavator Clay is changeable as you add a little water to it and shape terrain for your beardie to enjoy. However, when it dries, it’s not hard or rough enough to holds its form.

In the case of smelly spots, it is recommended that owners should keep some dry clay handy to replace them. Because this substrate retains heat so if you have an under tank heater, you shouldn’t use the substrate.


  • Stimulate natural burrowing instincts
  • 100% natural materials
  • Easy to clean or replace


  • Not safe if accidentally ingested

7. Exo Tera Desert Sand Black

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Exo Tera Desert Sand Black

Another option for your bearded dragon is this Exo Tera Desert Sand. Due to its deep black color, it will give your tank a unique appearance.

This product is good at holding heat and has a homogenous grain size, which encourages natural burrowing behaviors. Especially, this product is examined to remove any contaminants and you will find it easy to clean.


  • Provide a natural-looking desert home
  • A great conductor of heat
  • Encourages burrowing behavior


  • Baby bearded dragons may accidentally ingest it

8. Zoo Med ReptiFresh Odor-Eliminating Substrate

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Zoo Med ReptiFresh Odor-Eliminating Substrate

This kind of substrate can last up to a year before you need to replace it. You can mix it with Zoo Med’s Excavator clay or ReptiSand clumps if you can scoop out messes.

It provides calcium so that your dragon won’t need to consume the bedding.

9. Zoo Med Forest Floor Bedding

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Zoo Med Forest Floor Bedding


  • Provide natural habitat like the jungle environment for your pet
  • It is good at holding moisture and absorbency
  • The soft texture is safe for reptiles
  • Natural cypress is completely free of harmful chemicals.

10. Zoo Med Eco Earth Loose Coconut Fiber

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Zoo Med Eco Earth Loose Coconut Fiber


  • Give moisture and a safe environment
  • Break down waste
  • Carefully processed natural coconut fiber, with no chemicals
  • Great simulating tropical environments

11. Zoo Med Repti Bark

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Zoo Med Repti Bark

Of all the best substrate for bearded dragons, this substrate can conduct and distribute heat more evenly.

Additionally, it provides stimulating features to your reptile’s environment so your dragon can freely dig and burrow in it as if they were in the wild. Besides, small pieces are interlocking, which helps prevent live food in the terrarium from setting up home in the substrate.

However, it is highly absorptive so you have to keep everything clean and dry. Every two or three months, remove it and soak it in hot water to refresh it and you can even reuse it.

Especially, you will find it economical as you will only need to replace it once a year.


  • Fir tree bark
  • Stimulating environment
  • Reused for up to a year
  • Produces a humid environment

12. Zoo Med Reptile Cage Carpet

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Zoo Med Reptile Cage Carpet


  •  Absorbent – Soft 
  • Non-abrasive is safe for the delicate bodies
  • Non-absorbent carpets.
  • It can be washed and reused.
  • Can not be accidentally ingested

How to Decorate A Bearded Dragon Tank

When decorating a bearded dragon cage, it is really important to create an environment mimicking your pet’s natural habitat. A comfortable environment should have some standards such as abundant space for your bearded dragon to move around and places to hide and rest. Therefore, to prepare great accommodations like this for your pet, the substrate plays an important role in this process.

best substrate for bearded dragon egg laying

Some Simple Tips For Decorating Your Bearded Dragon Tank:

Regarding the size of the tank, we recommend that a tank at least 20 gallons is suitable for juveniles and a tank at least 1.5 to 2 feet long is for adults.

To keep the bottom of your bearded dragon tank fresh, you should cover it with an inch of a substrate and scoop it every few days.

Bearded dragons always love pampering themselves under the sunlight so you should place a basking lamp at one end of the cage as well as a rock or something for your bearded dragon to rest on and enjoy the warmth. You also should arrange a place for your dragon to hide.

The opposite end of the tank should be kept a little cooler. The temperature of the daytime of your bearded dragon tank should be around 85°F with a basking temperature of 100°F to 105°F. At night, you should reduce the temperature to 75°.

Remember to provide your pet with as much space as you can. In case you want a comfortable tank, you should purchase a tank that will be large enough for an adult bearded dragon and let your baby bearded dragon grow into it.

Loose bedding

loose bedding

We would like to offer you some necessary information about loose bedding which is only for adults. Before we get into detail, please join us to discuss the impaction.


Impaction happens when there is a blockage in the intestines of your bearded dragon as he devours too much of the loose substrate that he cannot digest, which could kill your dragon.

Another reason for this is when the beardie is dehydrated and doesn’t have a high enough temperature for basking. Besides, having a lot of parasites can also make your bearded dragon suffer from impaction as well.

How to avoid impaction?

You can take some steps to tackle this problem by providing enough drinking water and placing his food in a dish, not on top of the substrate.

Secondly, you should choose the best bearded dragon bedding that can mimic his natural environment in the wild.

And last but not least, make sure that you give him enough calcium with his food to prevent him from eating the substrate.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the best bearded dragon bedding?

Paper towels, newspaper, or butcher paper would be the best bedding for hatching or juvenile as they are safe and cheap. Otherwise, you can choose one of the reptile mats we reviewed at the beginning of the article.

On the other hand, you can use loose bedding for an adult dragon. Despite the dust, fine quartz sand may be the best bearded dragon bedding as It mimics their natural habitat.
One compulsory thing that you have to remember is providing adequate calcium in his diet and water to drink, which is the way to protect your pet.

Also, a warm spot is always available for your dragon to sun himself, and when feeding him, you have to put the food in a dish.

In case of emergency, you should ask your vet for recommendations before deciding on anything as she or he has specialized experience in treating impaction in reptiles.

What About Calcium-Based Sand?

Calcium Based Sand

The reason for the idea of calcium-based sand arose from the fact that your bearded dragon may eat some, which leads to the impaction for your pet.

Therefore, due to this product, in case your bearded dragon intake some, they will just get a harmless calcium supplement as the sand breaks down in their digestive system.

Choosing calcium-based sand is also a good idea to provide a substantial surface of the cage that is not sand. And you can easily find many of these sands available at your local pet store and online.

However, there are some circumstances that some keepers still find that their dragons are more likely to eat calcium-based sand as it tends to be slightly finer and therefore easier to ingest than coarser natural sands.

This may have some negative impacts on your bearded dragon so you should keep an eye on him carefully and make sure he isn’t eating too much of the sand or eating it behaviorally.

Is coconut substrate good for bearded dragons?

Coconut Fiber & Sand for Bearded Dragons includes sand and coconut fiber in your dragon’s cage, which makes these substrates equivalent to his natural habitat and helps him a comfortable environment.

Should choose bearded dragon sand or wood chips?

To stop bearded dragons from eating bedding made of small particles, you should not use sand (including biodegradable calcium-based sands), wood chips, or gravel. You had better use newspaper, paper towels, or reptile carpet.

Why is sand bad for bearded dragons?

Commonly, people use sand as a substrate for bearded dragons. However in case young lizards est some by accident, they will face the intestinal impaction.

Therefore, regarding young bearded dragons, you shouldn’t keep them on the sand, or any kind of loose substrate.

What can I use instead of sand for my bearded dragon?

Instead of using sand, you can check out several different substrates below that you can use in your bearded dragon enclosure.

Sand and Similar Materials. In the wild, bearded dragons spend their entire life running across sands and pebbles. …

  • Newspaper. 
  • Ceramic Tiles.
  • Reptile Carpets. 
  • Bark and Mulch. 

Can I put tile in my bearded dragon tank?

Of course, tile or other materials like slate, linoleum, or ceramic are widely used for the bearded dragon’s substrate. … However, you should provide your dragon with plenty of other things to climb around so they’re not always on the tile

What’s the best substrate for baby bearded dragons?

Regarding babies, the best substrate is newspaper or towels. Until they are at least turn 5 months old, you can use sand.

You should choose the best sand for bearded dragons that are not silica (sharp), coarse or unwashed when setting up dragon’s terrarium.


We cannot deny that bearded dragons are such an amazing pet and giving your pet a comfortable natural habitat is important.

Therefore, you have to be careful to choose the best substrate for bearded dragons, which will help you provide them with their environment close to their natural habitat and keep them safe and warm.

Especially, regarding baby and juvenile dragons that are vulnerable, you have to choose the right loose substrate.

One dangerous problem that you may face is that your pet will ingest some materials like sand and rocks so make sure you watch your pet carefully.

One solution is choosing a style of the substrate that is inedible to limit the possibility of this issue altogether.

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