bearded dragon handbook

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5 Best Sands For Bearded Dragons

Are you looking for a natural bedding for your bearded dragon?

Do you want to give your reptile the best tank setup?

Then you may want to consider using sand as the substrate for your bearded dragon enclosure.

But there is a lot of sand out there to choose from. 

How do you find the best sand for bearded dragons?

The best sand for bearded dragons should be natural and of fine grain. Here are our picks:

Read on for what to look for in sand as bedding for a bearded dragon enclosure. 

What To Look For In Bearded Dragon Substrate

Shopping for the best sand for bearded dragon substrate is tricky, but we’re here to help.

In this section, we’ll mention some important factors you may want to be aware of.

Use this information to help you decide which substrate is best for your needs.


The material of the substrate makes a huge difference.

There are different types of materials out there, each with their pros and cons.


Sand from quartz or calcium carbonate is the most natural bedding to use.

They’re drawn from the same materials which make up the bearded dragon’s home in the Australian desert.

Sand can help aid in digestion and provide something to burrow into when the reptile is getting overheated.

When it comes to cleaning, sand isn’t as naturally clumping as other materials.

This means while it is relatively easy to clean up after the beardy goes to the bathroom, this means there are better options for this.


Crushed walnut shells are another common material.

When ground down, the shells very closely match the texture of real sand.

The walnut shells are chemical free and safe for beardies.

They even retain heat better than sand, making it easier to heat the tank.

Read more on what temperature a bearded dragon tank should be.

Walnut shells don’t provide a natural digestion aid, though.

So for beardies who tend to get impacted, you may not want to pick this.

Beardies still enjoy burrowing into this material to cool down.

They clump well, making clean up simple.

Aspen Chips

Aspen chips ground up are similar to sand and walnut shells.

Consider this the budget option replacing either of those.

Aspen chips are safe and are a common choice for bedding bearded dragons and other reptiles.

They do clump to make cleanup more manageable (although some may say it clumps too much).

Beardies also enjoy burrowing into this material, as well. 


Safety is a huge concern when it comes to sand for bearded dragons.

There are two main things you need to watch out for.


Some beddings are treated with chemicals.

When wet, these chemicals can leak onto the reptile’s skin and cause problems.

Also, when eating, bearded dragons sometimes eat some substrate.

If there are chemicals in the sand, they’ll also be eating the chemicals.

This isn’t common with most official reptile sands, but if you save money by buying some from a hardware store, you may be poisoning your pet.

Stick with a reptile seller.


The other thing to watch for is impacting or choking.

Choking happens when the beardy eats something too large to swallow.

This occurs commonly with pebbles but can happen with larger grain substrate (see below). 

Impacting happens when something is swallowed, but it’s too big to digest easily.

Food can build up in the digestive tract and put pressure on the spine resulting in paralysis.

Finer grain size is better.

Also, different substrate helps or hurt this.

Make sure to check reviews (or just pick from our list).

Grain Size

Grain size is important with sand substrate, as well.

Finer (smaller) sand is safer for bearded dragons.

They won’t choke or get impacted as easily.

In fact, very fine grains can help to break up food and digest it easier.

Even small grains are dangerous.

Smaller bearded dragons like babies and juveniles are more likely to have problems than adults.

As little reptiles, you may want to stick with a reptile carpet or even newspaper.


One of the significant benefits for owners is how sand can make your pet’s tank much easier to clean.

Sand will clump up around the waste from a beardy and make it easier to scoop out (just like kitty litter).

The amount of clumping and easy cleanup depends on the material, grain size, and brand.

Some sands even have natural purifying properties to prevent the spread of disease and bacteria.

Check the reviews to see what users said about clean up.


Cost is an essential factor, as well.

While high-priced sand may work very well, if it costs too much, you won’t be able to keep up with it.

Substrate isn’t a one time purchase.

You’re going to have to replace it over time.

You also don’t want just to get the cheapest one.

A cheap may end up running out faster because it doesn’t clump up as easily.

In general, you want to change out the substrate completely every month or two.

Usually, 8 qts or 10 lbs will get you through a couple of months, depending on how large the enclosure is.

Read more on how to clean a bearded dragon tank.

Bag Size

The last thing you want to check is the bag sizes available.

Often, a product seems cheaper because it’s smaller.

When you compare prices, the larger one may have a better value.

I recommend buying in bulk whenever possible.

Review Of The Best Sand For Bearded Dragons

best sand for bearded dragons

In this section, we’ll dig (pun intended) into the best sand for bearded dragons.

Use the information from above to help you tell what it is you’re looking for in a substrate.

Each section will cover the essential features along with the user experience of the sand.

Zoo Med ReptiSand – Natural Red

Zoo Med ReptiSand Natural Red: 20 lb Bag

*Editors Pick* - If you're going to use sand this one is very fine, chemical-free, and made by a reputable company. It comes in a 20lbs bag so you will be set for a while!

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This red sand for substrate by ZooMed may cost a little more than the rest of these on the list, but with 20 lbs of it, you’ll be set for a while.

ZooMed is a pillar in the pet industry, and its products are known for their quality.

This ReptiSand is made from natural quartz desert sand and closely simulates the natural environment of the bearded dragon.

As with sand, the beardies can burrow easily, which is one of their natural cooling behaviors.

This sand is also completely chemical-free, so you know it’s safe. 

The red color is also natural in the Australian desert environment.

This doesn’t affect the usability of the sand, but if you’re going for a specific look, you may want this natural-looking color.

On top of this, the sand works well with almost any reptile.

Pros For This Product:

  • Natural red color
  • Fine sand; suitable for burrowing
  • Safe and chemical-free
  • Good company to work with

Cons For This Product:

  • No consistent complaints about this specific product

Reptile Sciences Terrarium Sand, 10 lb, Natural Sedona

Reptile Sciences Terrarium Sand, 10-Pound, Natural Sedona
  • 100% Digestible Calcium Carbonate Prevents Internal and External Abrasions
  • 100% All-Natural Orbicular Grains; Silica & Phosphate-Free
  • Significantly Lowers Risk of Impaction in Reptiles
We earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase at no additional cost to you.

This terrarium sand by Reptile Sciences is a medium-priced product.

It comes in a 10 lb bag, which you may need to replace a few times a year. 

The features crammed into the simple-looking sand is impressive.

The sand is made from Calcium Carbonate.

While this is somewhat natural, it doesn’t precisely match the bearded dragon’s natural habitat.

In captivity, this may be just fine, though.

The calcium carbonate is a natural way for the beardy to absorb some calcium, and it also has natural purifying properties to limit the adverse effects of waste and bacteria. 

This sand will also cling to the waste making clumps, which are easier to clean.

With this feature, you save on sand due to the easier way to clean.

Reptile sciences also collected this sand naturally, so it doesn’t have any added chemicals.

The fine grain (small) can help with digestion if ingested accidentally.

Pros For This Product:

  • Good for burrowing
  • Easy cleanup
  • Nice natural look to the sand
  • Safe sand to use

Cons For This Product:

  • May clump and stick to beardy tongues

Zoo Med ReptiSand, 10 lbs, Desert White

Zoo Med ReptiSand, 10 Pounds, Desert White
  • All natural no dyes or colors added
  • Perfect for desert reptiles
  • Stimulates natural digging behavior
We earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase at no additional cost to you.

This sand by ZooMed is the same as the first on our list, except white and in a 10 lb bag.

It’s a little pricier, but well-worth the higher cost. 

As one of the most excellent pet supply companies, you know you’re getting quality.

A natural quartz desert sand makes up this product.

This material naturally follows the environment of the bearded dragon.

They can easily burrow in the sand, which is one of their natural cooling behaviors.

Zoo Med doesn’t add chemicals to this substrate.

You know it’s going to be safe.

The white color of the sand is similar to some of the ground in the Australian desert.

This look doesn’t affect the use of the product, but it does have a specific desert look you may want to build your tank around.

As with most sands, this is used by most other reptiles. 

Pros For This Product:

  • Natural red color
  • Fine sand; suitable for burrowing
  • Safe and chemical-free
  • Good company to work with

Cons For This Product:

  • No consistent complaints about this specific product

Zilla Ground English Walnut Shells Desert Blend

Zilla Reptile Terrarium Bedding Substrate Desert Blend Walnut, 10-Qt.
  • 100% Natural ground English Walnut shells replicate natural habitats and create an attractive desert environment
  • Will not scratch glass like sand and provides excellent heat-conducting
  • Stimulates natural digging and burrowing behavior and is an excellent heat conductor
We earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase at no additional cost to you.

Zilla’s desert blend technically isn’t sand, but the ground up walnut shells simulate the natural material and offer some additional benefits.

It’s a bit more expensive, but this may be OK for your budget.

Zilla offers this product in 5, 10, and 25 qrt options.

Instead of sand, the natural ground-up walnut shells work well for meeting the beardy’s desire to burrow and cool down.

But it does this while also retaining heat very well (an essential thing in captivity).

Sand sometimes scratches glass tanks, but the softer shells will not.

As a substrate, this desert blend works well with other reptiles too.

The blend also works well with clumping the waste for easier cleanup.

This material is able to be composted as yard waste, making it eco-friendly as well.

Ground walnut shells are readily available and perfectly safe for beardies to use.

It may not look exactly like a desert, but it still looks great in the tank. 

Pros For This Product:

  • Cleans up easily
  • Natural walnut shells
  • Great for protecting tanks
  • Bearded dragons love to burrow in this
  • Saves on heat

Cons For This Product:

  • May not help with digestion as sand will
  • Grain size is a little large for juvenile and baby bearded dragons

Zilla Snake and Lizard Litter

Zilla Snake and Lizard Litter, Aspen, 24 qt.
  • Laboratory grade aspen chips
  • The choice of many professional herpetologists
  • Hypo-allergenic, containing no harmful oils
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Zilla’s snake and lizard litter is another option not truly sand, but it simulates the material with ground-up aspen chips.

This is a budget option for those wanting good sand-type bedding, but not pay the extra price.

This product comes in 4, 8, and 24 qrt options (when I last checked, the 24 qrt was on sale, so make sure to click the link to check the price).

The aspen chips are ground up finely and “laboratory-grade.”

This means they don’t have any added chemicals and are as natural as it gets.

Though the aspen isn’t as natural as actual sand, it is a common choice for substrate for many expert reptile owners and breeders.

These aspen chips also make it easy to clean up after.

Pros For This Product:

  • Doesn’t mold
  • Makes for easy cleanup
  • Safe for use with reptiles
  • Doesn’t absorb odors

Cons For This Product:

  • A little too large for baby and juvenile bearded dragons
  • Not as natural as other materials


We hope you enjoyed learning about our list of the best sand for bearded dragons.

The biggest thing to remember is to get natural sand material.

You want to avoid chemicals as much as possible.

Pick from any of these on our list, and your pet will be happy and healthy.

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