Is Repti Bark for bearded dragons a suitable substrate, or are there better choices out there?
On the quest to find the best bedding, bearded dragon owners must weigh the risks and rewards of all kinds of options.
There are many to choose from, but this product review and guide will give you a much better idea of which substrate options are best for your beardie.
We’ve examined some of the highest-reviewed bearded dragon substrates available today and have selected a few of our favorites.
The absolute clear winner is the Zilla Reptile Terrarium Substrate, a reptile carpet. It is simple to use, attractive, durable, easy to clean, and is one of the safest and healthiest substrate options available for bearded dragons.
Repti Bark In This Review
What Makes The Best Bearded Dragon Repti Bark?
Different reptiles require different substrates.
Bearded dragons are at risk of impaction and are from deserts, which are low-humidity environments.
Their ideal type of substrate will be different from a turtle, which requires much higher humidity levels.
The best beddings for bearded dragons are non-particle substrates.
This means it is made of one solid piece, rather than a loose substrate made of small particles like sand, wood chips, or pebbles.
Non-particle substrates are the safer option for your bearded dragon. A few examples are:
- Reptile carpets
- Ceramic tiles
- Recycled newspapers
- Paper towels
- Rubber shelf liners
These substrates are made of safe materials for your beardie.
What To Look For When Shopping For Substrate
Consider the following when you’re looking to purchase substrate for your bearded dragon tank.
- How easy is it to clean?
- Is it made of safe materials and free of possibly harmful chemicals?
- Will it catch my bearded dragon’s claws?
- How often does it need to be replaced?
- Will it help maintain an arid environment by not retaining too much moisture?
- Will it absorb heat to help maintain consistent tank temperatures?
The overall appearance of the substrate doesn’t matter too much.
Choose those based on your personal preference.
Avoid substrate which reflects heat.
Also, avoid loose substrates such as:
- Non-silica sands (also known as Calci Sand or Vita Sand).
- Carpets with loose loops (they may catch bearded dragons’ nails).
- Organic materials from outside such as grass, sand, or dirt.
- Wood chips and bark (including Repti Bark).
- Rock and pebble substrate.
Loose objects and organic matter not purchased in pet stores pose serious health concerns for bearded dragons.
The biggest concern is impaction, which occurs when a bearded dragon consumes inorganic, indigestible matter.
Impaction issues may be severe, leading to potential intestinal tract damage and even death when gone untreated.
The very best substrate options will:
- Mimic your pet’s natural environment.
- Be easy to clean.
- Be durable.
- Avoid risk of impaction.
These features will be balanced with the overall price of the product.
If you’re really on a budget, there are some desirable features you may have to go without, including odor control, anti-microbial enzymes, and an overall more attractive appearance.
However, there are definitely budget-friendly substrates out there capable of doing everything they need to do!
The Best Repti Bark For Bearded Dragon Reviews
Below are five of the best substrates for bearded dragon tanks we’ve found.
Let’s take a look and compare some features.
Zilla Reptile Terrarium Substrate
- A low maintenance bedding, simply roll out and cut to size as needed
- Safe because it cannot be digested like other substrates, a good alternative especially for juvenile reptiles
- Treated with a biodegradable enzyme that reduces odors and is easy to clean with cold tap water
This synthetic carpet is our favorite pick.
It is one solid piece and comes in different sizes to fit any enclosure.
Additionally, it is thin and can easily be cut to size.
There are no health risks with this cage liner.
It offers a tight weave so a bearded dragon’s claws won’t get caught in it.
It is also surprisingly cheap, considering how great an option it is for bearded dragon tanks!
- Double-sided carpeting.
- Biodegradable enzyme keeps the carpet sanitary and fresh for longer.
- Non-abrasive material.
- Easy to clean with cold tap water.
- Comes in brown or green.
- Certified by the nonprofit United States Association of Reptile Keepers.
Zoo Med Excavator Clay
- Holds its shape so tunnels won't collapse
- All natural, no dyes or chemicals
- Make your reptiles feel like they are at home" in their natural habitat"
This excavator clay is a fantastic option for owners looking to get creative by carving and molding their terrarium landscapes.
The dirt hardens and holds its shape once water is added and fully dries.
There is little chance of impaction once the clay fully dries.
This is not the most budget-friendly option, nor is it a good option for beginning beardie owners.
However, it is real clay, which surely gives bearded dragons a more authentic setting than a synthetic type of substrate.
- No dyes or chemicals
- Many possibilities for enrichment activities; design an interesting environment with tunnels, bridges or archways
- Dirt purchased in pet stores is the safe option for avoiding unwanted germs and parasites
Duck Smooth Top EasyLiner
- Ideal for: cabinets and shelves in kitchen, bath and laundry room
- Non-adhesive grip bottom keeps liner in place and is removable
- Easy to slide objects such as dishes and glasses in and out of cabinets across smooth top surface
A creative alternative to items marketed as substrate, this shelf liner checks off all the boxes.
It has a solid surface, it’s reusable, and made of durable vinyl.
It is much cheaper than many other options out there (perhaps because it isn’t primarily equipment for reptile keepers).
- Machine washable
- Comes in different sizes and can easily be cut
- Grip on the bottom prevents slipping
Exo Terra Sand Mat
- Sand Mat - Desert Terrarium Substrate
- Provides a natural desert look
- Safe & Hygienic substrate
This cage liner has the realistic appearance of desert sand.
There are tiny stones and particles attached to the durable mat, which offer some additional texture and traction for your beardie.
The one downside of this option is the pebbles may fall off.
For this reason, it’s best for adult bearded dragons who don’t frequently attempt to munch on their cage items.
Give the mat a good rinse before using it.
- Sanitary and easy to clean
- Thin enough to be cut into custom sizes
Zilla Alfalfa Meal Bedding
- 100% Natural alfalfa-based bedding is not harmful when digested
- Safe for herbivorous and carnivorous reptiles
- Ultra-absorbent bedding
By and large, we do not recommend loose substrate, as we’ve already explained.
However, if you have your heart set on it, this is by far the safest option.
This disposable and biodegradable particle substrate is one of the only beddings made of digestible material.
Alfalfa is safe when ingested, although there is still some risk of impaction.
Alfalfa bedding is also quite absorbent.
Since it retains so much moisture, it may lead to higher humidity levels in your bearded dragon’s enclosure.
Monitor the humidity and replace the bedding often if you choose this option.
- Bacteriostatic agent keeps the bedding sanitary and fresh for longer.
- Eliminates odors.
Why Is Substrate Important For Bearded Dragon Enclosures?
What is the purpose of a substrate, and how important is it?
Since the ideal bearded dragon substrate is simply a flat and solid layer, why is it even needed?
Your bearded dragon will spend a huge majority of its life in its enclosure.
It’s important to design the tank with safety, hygiene, comfort, and enrichment in mind.
Those four factors play a huge role in the overall health and wellbeing of your bearded dragon, and substrate addresses all of them.
Substrate makes bearded dragon enclosures safer, cleaner, cozier, and more engaging.
What Does Substrate Do For Bearded Dragons?
Texture plays an important role in the effectiveness of the substrate.
A plain glass tank isn’t suitable flooring for a bearded dragon.
The glass is slippery and abrasive, capable of doing real damage to a beardie’s feet.
Substrate allows beardies to gain traction, making it easier to walk.
It also helps keep their nails filed down.
We have a more detailed guide on cutting bearded dragon nails and why it’s important if you want to read more on that topic.
Substrate helps regulate heat and humidity.
A flooring which absorbs heat and repels moisture will make it easier for you to maintain appropriate temperature and aridity in the tank.
Considering how important these environmental factors are for reptiles, it is well worth your time to research and find the best options for substrates.
Substrate catches feces and urine and helps control odor.
This makes the enclosure cleaner and more hygienic.
Feces can get spot cleaned daily, and substrate-like cage liners can easily be removed and rinsed as often as needed.
What Does “Easy To Clean” Mean?
“Easy to clean” mainly means feces doesn’t stick to or get caught in the substrate.
A lot of non-particle substrates are one large piece.
They’re much easier to remove from the tank, clean, and wipe down.
Some of these substrates are even machine washable.
Why Are Some Substrates Only Deemed Safe For Adult Bearded Dragons?
Baby bearded dragons are especially vulnerable to ingesting loose substrate because they’re messier eaters.
They’re not precise in their eating habits yet and are at greater risk of eating random objects when hunting their feeder insects.
Some beardie keepers argue loose substrate shouldn’t be used for bearded dragons of any age because there is always a threat of impaction.
I’ve Heard Of Ceramic Tiles Being Used As Substrate; Are Those A Good Idea?
Ceramic tiles are increasing in popularity and are a great option as a substrate.
Designed for kitchens and bathrooms, they’re easy to clean, look nice, have no impaction risks, and no retained moisture.
They also last an incredibly long time.
Since tiles are fairly slippery, consider adding more climbing areas in the cage if you use them as substrate.
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