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The Best Bearded Dragon Substrate: 3 Best Safe Options!

There are so many different options and opinions for the Best Bearded Dragon substrate

You will find some bad information out there that will tell you to use certain substrates that can actually harm your bearded dragon and I will cover those in this article

I will try to be quick so I don’t waste your time and if you’re new to bearded dragons check out this guide

In this guide, I will tell you what the best bearded dragon substrate is. Which ones are affordable and low maintenance as well.

Some people might not know what a substrate even is and its the flooring for your Bearded Dragons Tank

Why You Need to Choose The Right Bearded Dragon Substrate

The right substrate is going to make a huge difference for you as a new owner or maybe you’ve heard that another Bearded Dragon substrate is easier to clean or healthier for your bearded dragon

Sometimes you’re going to hear a mix of information about which substrate is the best and which one is the worst

i personally always go down the safe route with anything to do with animals and reptiles

You as a pet owner will want something that’s affordable, safe, and easy to clean (i hope)

please for the love of God don’t ask pet stores what they think. Many of them are just part-time employee’s who couldn’t care less about you and your bearded dragon

Talk to people and find resources online from people who actually own bearded dragons or at least love reptiles enough to give you the right information

i personally had a person from a pet store recommend me a bad substrate option for my bearded dragon which i will tell you to avoid in this article

Your bearded dragon substrate is going to be in the tank for the majority of the Bearded Dragons life

You want to use something that is going to be really easy to clean as well

First let’s start off with the ones that are great to use

The Best Bearded Dragon Substrate options

there are two types of substrate options

Loose and solid

you may see particle and non-particle

I like to just say solid and not solid for simplicity

Solid substrates are much better for you and for your beardie

loose substrates can be accidentally ingested and cause impaction (more on this later)

The mistake that most new owners make when it comes to loose particle substrates is that the particles of the substrate will get eaten along with the live food if given that

If enough of this is ingested it will lead to impaction

With solid substrates, you don’t have to worry about loose particles at all. it’s easy

Tile Substrate

This is a very good substrate for bearded dragons to use. The best part is it’s super easy to clean.

Tile is also awesome because it won’t cause your bearded dragon to ingest any loose substrate

Reptile carpet which is our next option will retain some smells and stains caused by daily wear and tear but tile will remain sturdy and strong

Bearded Dragon Substrate
Bearded Dragon Substrate

Super low maintenance and cost-effective since you’ll be keeping the tile throughout the life of the bearded dragon

This is my favorite bearded dragon substrate

The best kind of tile to use is Ceramic or slate

You can also use linoleum if you want to as well

Another cool thing about tile is it can help keep your bearded dragon warmer since it can hold onto heat a little better and Tile can help keep your bearded dragons nails trimmed up

Reptile Carpet

This one is good because you can avoid the ingestion of loose particles and all that

you will be able to lay this down without worry

but like carpet in your home, it will quickly get dirty and smelly

It’s much much better than loose Bearded Dragon substrate options but it does have a downside

one major upside is that it will feel natural to your bearded dragon a lot more than tile would. The tile will feel like walking on… tile lol

carpet can feel like grass to them

What I think you should personally watch out for is low-quality carpeting

a friend of mine has low-quality carpeting in his beardies enclosure and it drives me insane. i might just buy him some high-quality carpet (this is an affiliate link)

Use high-quality fibers as often as possible because that will avoid the problem of bearded dragons nails getting caught in the fibers

Use this cleaner as well I use this often and when I run out I just use soap and water

the best part about the carpet is that you can cut it to the size you need for your tank

the link above provides you with a piece big enough for a 50-gallon tank and you can cut it to size for a smaller tank which is also useful for changing the carpet later on

I like going for the green carpet as well since it will mimic what a bearded dragon would see in the wild as well

I like to always mimic what they would see in the wild without all the dangers of predators

Cleaning reptile carpet is tedious. like carpet, at home, it will get dirty and smelly.

If that doesn’t bother you then pick some up its a really good option for a bearded dragon substrate


Newspaper as a Bearded dragon substrate is awesome because usually people have some newspaper lying around or have easy access to it

my first apartment building had a bin full of flyers and newspapers that people didn’t want

Changing this is obviously quite easy as well since all you need to do is change it when it gets too gross

Bearded Dragon Substrate Newspaper
Bearded Dragon Substrate Newspaper

Bearded dragons can be messy. You may find food they didn’t eat or poop lying around somewhere and it takes literally two seconds to change it and replace the newspaper

Paper towel works really well for this as well

I recommend people that are on a budget to go down this path

Now I know you might be worried that maybe your bearded dragon might rip it up and eat pieces of it

It actually doesn’t happen. I was worried about the same thing until I saw that they don’t even do that

the pieces are actually pretty big and your beardie would have a problem getting it into their mouth

The one thing about newspaper that sucks is the fact that it’s slippery

it will move a lot when your bearded dragon is trying to run around

Loose Bearded Dragon Substrates

Loose bearded dragon substrates are not the best idea for bearded dragons

They can ingest the substrate and cause impaction to happen which is a very serious thing and can be fatal

Loose substrates are things like

  • sand
  • gravel
  • wood chips
  • small rocks
  • litter (yes some people use kitty litter)
  • crushed Walnut
  • mulch
  • Soil for potting and plants
  • hay
  • pellots

Anything that is small and loose

Live protein like roaches and crickets will obviously be running around inside the enclosure and then from there the bearded dragon will try to eat it ingesting the loose Bearded Dragon substrate

Because this stuff is so hard and not natural it will get stuck in your bearded dragon digestive system from which you will need to assist them in passing it

the worst-case scenario is you’ll need to bring them to the vet for surgery

Why Do You Need to Avoid Gravel, Sand and Loose Substrates

Gravel is terrible for a few reasons

  • Choking hazard
  • bad for bacteria overgrowth
  • Looks appetizing to your bearded dragon which will cause impaction
  • Sucks to clean

Some substrates can even cause mold and bacteria build-up which can make your bearded dragon sick

I’m sure you want to keep your bearded dragon happy and healthy so not all substrates are created equal

Sand sucks as well. You will see this at pet stores a lot

Sand sticks to everything that has ANY moisture to it so its so easy for your bearded dragon to inhale it or eat it

Another issue with sand is when poop or rotten food is in the sand it can easily get spread around and on top of that it can get stuck on your bearded dragon’s face

When there is that much bacteria your bearded dragon can get respiratory problems and infections quite easily

that bacteria can be passed on to you pretty easily as well

So good substrates are all about keeping your bearded dragon healthy and happy and you also have a clean tank for your beardie to enjoy

on top of all that you make it so much easier for yourself when you want to clean the tank and its decorations

Calcium Sand needs to be avoided as well

Calcium sand is this stuff that pet stores will try to get you to buy telling you its a safe alternative when it really isn’t

There is a huge difference between a substrate and what they need for nourishment in their body

Supplementation is completely fine but not in a substrate

you want to be giving your Bearded dragon calcium through its diet. Not the floor it lives on….

Another thing about sand is its really hard to clean

it takes a really long time and the entire purpose of cleaning is to get rid of poop and bacteria

Imagine sifting through the sand every day trying to clean it

eventually your tank is so full of bacteria you would need to replace the sand and deep clean the decorations and all that

How to clean your Bearded Dragon Substrate

Cleaning a bearded dragon substrate is simple in concept but can be more tedious than expected

When you use the good substrates like tile and reptile carpet you will have to still clean it often

Bearded dragons can be messy and dirty. They are reptiles right!

Prevention is always best and having a clean enclosure is going to be awesome for your beaded dragons health

I personally clean my bearded dragons tank every day. I don’t rip everything out daily but i do spot cleaning every day and a water change

IF you’re using newspaper or paper towel you can easily just pull out the old substrate floor and put a new one in

But if you’re using tile or carpet then its a little different

The reason i do my stuff daily is because a mess is a whole lot easier to clean when its fresh

Bearded dragon tanks are hot and things can bake in there

For example a poop is a lot easier to clean when its fresh in my opinion

You can use Soap and water if you want to. I Personally use this cleaner here

Wherever its dirty spray the area and clean it right up

I also use a diluted version of food grade hydrogen peroxide as well. This works wonders on cleaning

You can also use a diluted vinegar mixture as well

Deep cleaning your bearded dragon substrate

Deep cleaning should happen every month

I do this at the beginning of the month and man o man does it need it

After a month there are just things you miss and you will find them doing a deep clean

When doing a deep clean take out all the decorations and accessories and clean them

For tile you can clean it up and then wipe it down

The way i get rid of all the bacteria on my tile is putting it in the oven at 240 degrees

Do this after you’ve cleaned it but you can easily miss some bacteria

The oven method will kill all the bacteria on the surface with ease

Just make sure you take it out and let it cool down before you put it back in there

Cleaning reptile carpet is easy but a little more of a pain in the back

You should soak the reptile carpet in hot water and start scrubbing

i mentioned a diluted food grade hydrogen peroxide mix. i make my own mix but this stuff kills everything

i do a spray and soak with that as well but sometimes food grade hydrogen peroxide can be hard to find.

You have to dilute this stuff yourself as well so its a bit more complicated but it does work wonders

The hot water and scrubbing will be enough but its going to be harder the longer you leave messes

Avoid putting it in your washing machine. Give your Bearded Dragon substrate its own dedicated place for cleaning.

Don’t mix their bacteria with where your clothes get cleaned.

Summary, FAQ’s and Things you might not know

This is an ongoing thing. i will add more and more to this article the more i learn

Thank you

In my personal opinion tile is the best since its so easy to clean and it does look good for a bearded dragon substrate

Substrates make a really big impact on your bearded dragons health so you want to pick one that’s easy to clean and easy to maintain