Best Substrate For Chameleons

Do you want to set up your chameleon tank perfectly?

Are you wondering about what to put on the bottom of your chameleon tank?

A substrate isn’t a big area of concern for chameleons, but it’s still important to use the right stuff.

While there are hundreds of substrate options out there for reptiles, you need to know what the best substrate for chameleons is.

The best substrate for Chameleon should be toxic-free and resistant to mold in high humidity environments. Our picks for the best substrate for chameleons are:

Check ahead on the rest of the article for information on a chameleon substrate and reviews of the best products we recommend.

What To Look For In Chameleon Substrate

This section will talk about the aspects of Chameleon substrate you need to be aware of when shopping for one.

The picks on our list all have these elements in place to a certain degree.

If you wanted to go outside our list, you must make sure these are in place.

But save yourself some trouble and pick one of the ones we recommend.


At the baseline of all good substrate, it must be toxic-free.

No chemicals should be used in the processing of the substrate at any point.

Even with a thorough cleaning, some of these chemicals may stick around.

This is especially true when the substrate is exposed to high humidity environments such as the ones in a chameleon cage.

When wet or humid, the chemicals may end up seeping into the air or in contact with the pet.

This can cause severe deformities, illnesses, and possibly even death.

While you may be able to save some money shopping at a hardware store, they should be avoided.

We recommend only buying substrates from pet stores or online pet retailers.

All the products we recommend come from a respected pet brand and are completely toxic-free.


Several materials work well with chameleons.

A substrate is usually split into two groups: soil-based and Wood-based.

They are good options in either category, but the best ones are usually made out of wood or plants.

Common ones include cedar and coconut shavings.

It’s still important to make sure these materials are completely chemical-free.

While other reptiles need to be concerned about the size of the material, chameleons don’t really need to worry about this.

Chameleons don’t eat on the ground.

They eat crickets with their tongue, and they aren’t very likely to accidentally in just a piece of the substrate for this reason.

Clumping Properties

As an owner, one of the best reasons to use a substrate is to help clean up the urate and droppings easier.

Some substrate will clump around the droppings making it simple to scope the dropping out.

Others won’t do this as much and clean up as a little messier.

While this property doesn’t make the substrate any healthier, it does make your life as an owner a lot easier.

The best way to tell about this element is to talk to actual users.

We did the hard work for you from experience and speaking to others, so reading the detailed reviews allow for more information on this feature.


Some substrate materials have a unique quality of trapping and even killing bacteria.

This is an important feature to watch out for, especially if you’re busy and don’t have time to get to droppings right away.

A substrate killing bacteria may be just what you need to help prevent disease.

Some materials are better at than others, such as coconut.

Our reviews below will mention what the manufacturer says about this element and what others have experienced.


Along the same lines, you want to watch out for substrate which tends to collect mold.

With desert reptiles and dry humid environments, this isn’t a big concern.

Since chameleons come from the tropical rainforest, they need a high humidity cage.

Check out the best misting systems for chameleons for more information and recommended products and keeping the humidity up.

One of the major downsides of high humidity is an increased risk of mold.

Some substrate materials are more likely to gather mold in such environments.

Chameleons are already more likely to develop respiratory infections, so making sure you cut down on mold is essential for their healthy life.

Again, check the reviews below for more information on how this particular substrate handles mold.

Review Of The Best Substrate For Chameleons

best substrate for chameleons

Below is a detailed review of each of the products we recommend.

Use this information to help you decide which one you want to get.

In each subsection, we will also mention the general price point of each substrate.

Because of pricing changes so often, we won’t mention exact pricing.

The best way to check for exact pricing is to click the button in each section.

Exo Terra Coco Husk

Exo Terra Coco Husk, 7.2-Quart (Packaging May...
  • 100 percent natural substrate; Ideal for natural terrarium set-ups
  • Increases humidity in terrariums
  • Stimulates natural digging and burrowing behavior

The medium-priced substrate option from Exo Terra is made for reptiles and other burrowing critters.

As such, it’s completely safe for all pets and free from chemicals.

The substrate is made from compressed coconut husk.

As a material, coconut has many good qualities as a substrate.

For one, it’s all-natural and found in tropical environments such as the ones chameleons live in.

Another way is how it’s good for burrowing.

Chameleons don’t typically burrow, although females will look to burrow when they need to lay eggs.

Coconut also has some serious anti-bacterial properties.

Trapped droppings won’t spread their germs throughout the air.

In fact, coconut is also resistant to mold and will even increase the humidity in the cage.

This saves you some time and stress from getting the relative humidity up yourself.

Pros For This Product:

  • Good value
  • Safe from mold and decreases bacteria
  • Natural and non-toxic

Cons For This Product:

  • Doesn’t clump around droppings as well
  • Releases a red color when wet (the bottom of your cage may stain)

Zoo Med Coconut Fiber Substrate

Zoo Med 26084 Eco Earth Loose Bag, 24 Quart
  • Ideal for naturalistic terrarium type set-ups incorporating reptiles, amphibians or invertebrates
  • Use it damp for tropical species as it naturally absorbs and breaks down odor and waste products
  • 24 quart economy size for larger terrariums

The Eco Earth packed coconut substrate is another great option at a medium-price point.

Eco Earth provides this product in different bundles to meet whatever pet needs you have.

Sizes available are:

  • Single 8 quart block
  • Single 24 quart bag
  • 3-pack of 8 quart bags

If you give this substrate a go and enjoy it, we recommend coming back to buy the bigger bundle (you get more bang for your buck).

Or just go for the bigger bundle right away and see how useful it is.

As another coconut fiber, you get all the benefits we’ve discussed before such as natural, toxic-free, anti-bacterial, resistant to mold, and increases the humidity of the cage.

But on top of all this, the Zoo Med substrate also clumps and traps the droppings well.

It even breaks down a lot of it before you scoop it out.

Pros For This Product:

  • Good value
  • Strong anti-bacterial and mold resistant
  • Clumps around droppings making clean up easier
  • Simulates natural chameleon environment and raises humidity

Cons For This Product:

  • Block option needs to broken apart instead of just spread which is a messy process

Zilla Reptile Substrate Liner

Zilla Reptile Terrarium Liners Green 10/20X Gallon
  • Bio-degradable enzyme reduces odors
  • Absorbent, non-abrasive material that will not irritate reptiles
  • Safe - cannot be ingested

The Zilla Reptile substrate liner is more of a bedding or reptile carpet than a true substrate.

But the much lower price and long, long life of the product makes it the most cost-effective option.

The reptile carpet is still completely safe for chameleons to use.

When it is dirty, all you need to do is take it out and clean it.

Cut the liner from its original size to fit your cage exactly.

What it gains in lower price, long life, and user-friendliness, it loses in the cleanup process.

Droppings and urate won’t be trapped or clumped together.

The liner also won’t provide any natural anti-bacterial or mold fighting properties.

But if price is your goal, this is a truly viable option.

Pros For This Product:

  • Great value
  • Long life of the liner
  • Cut to exact cage dimensions

Cons For This Product:

  • No natural cleaning properties
  • Doesn’t clump up droppings

Reptile Prime Coconut Fiber Bedding

Reptile Prime Coconut Fiber Bedding Substrate for...
  • Optimal substrate for terrarium set-ups incorporating reptiles, amphibians, or invertebrates.
  • It can be used with tropical species or desert dwelling as it can be used Dry or Damp.
  • It has superior Humidity retention capabilities.

The Reptile Prime bedding is a premium substrate at a higher price.

But the more expensive creation of this substrate results in a more effective and cleaner product than most others offer.

Reptile Prime makes this substrate with reptiles, amphibians, and invertebrates in mind.

This means they know the product needs to be bug-free, non-toxic, and completely clean for these pets to use.

Whether you want to use this with desert creatures such as the bearded dragon or tropical reptile like the chameleon, this is a good option.

In tropical environments like the chameleon needs, this works just as well.

It may even help make your life easier.

As with other coconut beddings, this one will retain humidity while resisting mold well.

But the premium manner in which this coconut fiber was processed does both of these jobs better than most other products.

The higher price may turn you off of this product, though.

It’s ultimately up to what you’re able to swing, but this product is solid in every way.

It clumps around droppings well and even breaks them down.

Pros For This Product:

  • High-quality manufacturing
  • Non-toxic and all-natural
  • Retains humidity, breaks down droppings
  • Resistant to mold

Cons For This Product:

  •  Higher price

Zoo Med Repti Bark Substrate

Zoo Med Reptile Bark Fir Bedding, 8 Quarts
  • All Natural green" product"
  • Lasts up to one year
  • Absorbent

Zoo Med’s Repti bark is a medium-priced wood option for someone looking for a substrate to help make cleanup as easy as possible.

They offer this in a ton of different bundles including the following:

  • 2 Pack of 4 quart bags
  • 4 Pack of 4 quart bags
  • 6 Pack of 4 quart bags
  • 8 quart bag
  • 10 quart bag
  • 24 quart bag

This substrate is made for reptiles such as the chameleon and is completely non-toxic.

Unlike many other good bedding materials, this one is made from the bark of fir trees.

It may not be as natural to the chameleon’s tropical environment, but it does have some good ability to break down droppings.

The top of the list of qualities for this substrate is its absorbent power.

When this substrate comes into contact with droppings, it clumps right up.

This substrate cleans up droppings like nothing.

All you have to do is scoop out the clumps when they form.

For all this good stuff, it tends to gather mold when sprayed too much.

Keep an eye on it as you clean.

Replace the bark around every 6 months or when you see mold starting to form.

Pros For This Product:

  • Great value
  • Easy to clean
  • All natural; no toxins or chemicals

Cons For This Product:

  • May have mites inside (but can be replaced)
  • Gathers mold at times

Commonly Asked Questions

Is coconut fiber safe for chameleons? – Yes! Coconut fiber is one of the cleanest and safest beddings for almost any pet.

It’s natural and has cleansing properties.

What live plants can I put in with a chameleon? – Non-toxic and generally neutral plants are all OK for chameleons.

These are a few safe ones to choose from:

  • Weeping Fig
  • Rubber Tree
  • Yucca
  • Hibiscus
  • Jade Plant

Do I need anything in the bottom of my chameleon cage? – Technically, no.

But without something to absorb the droppings, there’s a higher chance for mold and bacteria to spread around the cage.


We hope you enjoyed this review of the best substrate for chameleons.

There are many options out there, but if you wanted something more natural-looking any of these would be right for your situation.

All you need to do now is just to look at the products and pick one to buy.

The substrate won’t have a huge impact on the chameleon’s health, but it will make a very real impact on how easy it is to clean the chameleon’s cage.


Ask a Veterinarian Today

Chat with an on-call Veterinarian in minutes! 24/7 Unlimited Chats.