One of the most important things you need to add to your Bearded Dragon’s terrarium is flooring. You can have substrate, bedding, or both.
However, which one should you choose and which is the best for your Beardie?
In this article, we’ll discuss the difference between the two. Then, we’ll share some of the best bedding options to have for your scaly friend. Finally, we’ll share some tips on how to clean the bedding.
- 1 Substrate Vs Bedding
- 2 What Makes A Good Bearded Dragon Bed?
- 3 Comparison Chart Of The Best Substrate For Bearded Dragons
- 4 Best Bedding For Bearded Dragons
- 5 Our Top Choice: What Bedding Is Best For Bearded Dragons?
- 6 Does Sand Make A Good Substrate For Bearded Dragons?
- 7 How To Clean Bearded Dragon Substrate
- 8 Conclusion
Substrate Vs Bedding
These two terms are often mistaken for the same thing. Substrate and bedding both go on the floor of your Beardie’s tank, so they should be the same, right?
In fact, they’re different. The substrate is what’s used to line the bottom of the enclosure. Bedding is what’s used for your Bearded Dragon to nest in.
In other words, the substrate is the flooring of their terrarium that absorbs moisture for when your Bearded Dragon goes to the bathroom. Bedding is a softer material that allows your Beardie to relax, but they can still comfortably walk on.
Depending on the setup of your tank, these two can and have been used interchangeably.
What Makes A Good Bearded Dragon Bed?
Overall, a good Bearded Dragon bed is something soft for your Beardie to walk on and relax on. It should also conduct heat well so that your Bearded Dragon can comfortably lounge on the bedding and still stay warm.
Comparison Chart Of The Best Substrate For Bearded Dragons
So, what kind of bedding is best for Bearded Dragons? For a quick look, take a look at the comparison chart below.
|Reptile carpet||Soft, absorbent, good for all ages, inexpensive||Difficult to clean, you’ll need more than one||1||Click here|
|Newspaper or paper towels||Soft, absorbent, good for all ages, inexpensive||Unattractive, cannot be reused, needs to be changed frequently||2||Click here|
|Ceramic tiles||Conducts heat well, natural look, easy to clean||Not made for reptiles, difficult to install, does not absorb moisture well||3||Click here|
|Rubber shelf liners||Durable, easy to install, inexpensive||Does not conduct heat well, may shrink or crack under heat, needs to be changed frequently||4||Click here|
|Wood chips||Attractive, mimics natural habitat, easy to clean||Will lower humidity in the tank, can only be used for adult Bearded Dragons, causes a risk of impaction||5||Click here|
|Coconut chips||Affordable, easy to clean, dust-free||Risk of impaction, may have sharp pieces, cannot be reused||6||Click here|
|Dirt blocks||Easy to spot clean, affordable, easy for your Bearded Dragon to burrow||Risk of impaction, may be dusty when dry, cannot be reused||7||Click here|
Best Bedding For Bearded Dragons
Below are some of the best bedding for Bearded Dragons options. They can be used as a resting area, or they can also be used as a substrate, depending on the setup of your tank.
- Soft and absorbent
- Good for all ages of Bearded Dragons
- You’ll need to buy more than one
- Cleaning it can be time-consuming
- You’ll need to take the carpet out of the tank to clean it
Reptile carpet is one of the best options for your Bearded Dragon. It’s good bedding for Bearded Dragons because it’s soft for them to walk on, and it’s absorbent.
Also, this type of carpet is great for any age of Bearded Dragon. They won’t be able to eat it, and it’s comfortable enough for them. This carpet won’t overheat with the basking lamp either. So, in the shade or the light, your Beardie can safely relax.
Since this carpet is reusable, you can save yourself some money in the long run. However, cleaning can be an extensive process.
For instance, you need to take the whole carpet out to clean it which means you’ll need to take everything out of your Beardie’s tank. Also, they take a long time to dry, so you’ll want to buy more than one carpet.
You can put a clean one back in the tank when one is drying, so your Beardie isn’t waiting too long.
- Low-cost option
- Great for Bearded Dragons of all ages
- Soft and absorbent
- Unattractive to look at
- It needs to be cleaned frequently
- It cannot be reused
Another type of bedding that you can use for your Bearded Dragon is actual bedding for small animals. These are safe paper shavings that you can get at the pet store. However, you’ll most likely find them in the small animal aisle with the rabbits and guinea pigs rather than the reptile aisles.
On the other hand, you don’t need to buy any at all. Instead, you can recycle old newspapers or use paper towels to line the area in the tank.
Not only are these safe options for Bearded Dragons of all ages, but it’s also soft and absorbent.
However, you’ll need to clean them more often, at least once a day. Otherwise, it’ll begin to smell. It won’t look pretty in the tank, and you won’t be able to reuse it, so expect to add this into your budget.
- Conducts heat well
- Natural look
- Easy to clean
- Not made for reptiles
- Difficult to install
- It does not absorb moisture
Ceramic tiles are another Bearded Dragon bedding option. However, they’re not made for reptiles. Because of that, they might be slippery for your reptile to walk on. This product is a coaster, so you can peel the bottom off have the cork on the bottom of the tank, so it doesn’t scratch the glass.
While the tile will give it a natural look and naturally file down your Beardie’s claws, it doesn’t absorb moisture. It also might not be too comfortable for your Bearded Dragon to walk on or to relax on.
On the other hand, the tile substrate for Bearded Dragons is easy to spot-clean. So, while it doesn’t absorb, you can easily clean it. You’ll need to spot-clean it a couple of times per day to keep it clean and odorless.
Also, tiles come in certain sizes. So, it could be difficult to fit them all inside your tank.
- Easy to install
- Not a good conductor of heat
- It needs to be changed every two weeks
- May shrink or crack under the heat
Rubber shelf liners are another good option for your Beardie. It’s soft enough for your Bearded Dragon to walk on and to relax on. It’s an inexpensive option as well. However, it can’t be cleaned since it doesn’t absorb well. So, you’ll need to replace it every two weeks or so.
Otherwise, it’s durable and easy to install inside your Bearded Dragon’s tank. You can easily cut it to the size you want to have it cover the whole floor or a certain portion of the enclosure.
On the downside, the rubber shelf liners aren’t great conductors of heat. They can take a long time to heat up (or cool down). When exposed to high heat, it might crack or shrink, thus leaving the glass bottom of your tank exposed.
- Mimics natural habitat
- Easy to clean
- Risk of impaction
- Only ideal for adult Bearded Dragons
- Will lower humidity in the tank
Wood chips are a good option as a substrate or bedding for your Bearded Dragon. It’s easy to look at and makes your tank look attractive. In addition, it mimics your Beardie’s natural habitat, so they’ll feel right at home.
Also, Bearded Dragons love to dig. So, if you place the wood chips about an inch thick, they’ll be able to burrow a little bit. Wood chips are a great Bearded Dragon digging substrate.
Finally, wood chips are easy to clean. You can scoop some out and replace it, or you can simply take it all out and rinse the wood chips. Unfortunately, this is a bit messy, and you’ll need to take everything out of the tank.
So, you’re better off replacing the wood chips.
Unfortunately, wood chips pose a low risk of impaction if your Bearded Dragons accidentally eat them. You’ll want to feed them from a taller dish so that no wood chips accidentally get into their food.
In addition, wood chips are absorbent which is good for the waste Beardie’s make. However, it will also absorb the moisture in the air, lowering the humidity.
- Easy to clean
- Cannot be reused
- Risk of impaction
- It may have sharp pieces
Coconut chips are similar to wood chips. However, they’re affordable for you and easy to spot clean when needed. One of the best parts about this is that it’s dust-free, whether dry or wet.
You can keep the coconut chips dry or moisten them for your Bearded Dragon. Regardless of what you do, it’ll keep the humidity and the heat within the tank.
Unfortunately, even though it’s easy to spot clean the coconut chips, they cannot be reused. So after a couple of weeks, you’ll want to throw them away and add a new bag of coconut chips to the tank. It’s affordable, but over time you’ll need to include this in your budget.
Also, the coconut chips are made from coconut husks which can have sharp pieces. So be mindful of your Bearded Dragon accidentally rubbing it the wrong way and getting sores.
Finally, if your Beardie ingests small pieces, there’s a risk of impaction. So, be careful if your Bearded Dragon decides to burrow and watch them while they eat.
- Easy to spot clean
- Easy for your Bearded Dragon to burrow
- It might get dusty when dry
- Risk of impaction
- Cannot be reused
Dirt blocks are similar to coconut chips and wood chips. However, it’s softer. It’s easy for you to spot clean, and it’s affordable whenever you need to replace it. Unfortunately, the dirt cannot be reused, so you’ll have to add it to your budget.
The dirt will make it easy and fun for your Bearded Dragon to burrow. However, if it gets too dry then it might get dusty. So, you’ll need to keep an eye on your Bearded to make sure they don’t accidentally inhale the dirt, eat it, or get it in their eyes.
Otherwise, you’ll be taking a trip to the vet for respiratory problems, eye problems, or impaction.
Dirt blocks are better than buying loose dirt in the bag because it’s compacted together. You can easily install it in their tank by placing a block inside and breaking it apart with your hands. It’ll be less dusty and less messy while you set it up.
Our Top Choice: What Bedding Is Best For Bearded Dragons?
Our top choice is that reptile carpet is the best substrate for a Bearded Dragon. It’s also a great substrate for baby Bearded Dragons, juveniles, and adults alike.
There’s a lot to love about the reptile carpet for both of you. It’s soft and absorbent for them, and it’s easy for you to clean, plus it’s reusable. You’ll save money on their bedding in the long run.
Does Sand Make A Good Substrate For Bearded Dragons?
Unfortunately, no. Bearded Dragon sand substrate is not a good option for their terrarium.
Most first-time Beardie owners will buy “reptile sand” that’s sold in the pet store. They see sand in their little tank at the store, and, knowing Bearded Dragons comes from Australia, sand sounds like the natural option.
However, the sand from their natural habitat isn’t the soft sand we know from the beach. It’s more clay-like and compacted. So, it’s not dusty and grainy in the wild as the loose sand that’s sold in pet stores.
While sand is easy for you to spot-clean, it can pose many problems for your Bearded Dragon.
Beardies enjoy digging and will burrow. However, if they do this in the sand, they might get the sand in their eyes, inhale it, or accidentally swallow it.
Needless to say, that would cause eye problems, respiratory problems, and impaction in your Bearded Dragons. All of which will need a trip to the vet.
It’s also dusty. So, if it gets too dry, then it could get into your Beardie’s eyes. It might also get into your eyes too while you spot-clean it or simply add more sand to the tank.
How To Clean Bearded Dragon Substrate
When it comes to cleaning your Bearded Dragons substrate, it’ll depend on the type you use. For example, some bedding is reusable (such as the reptile carpet) while others (such as newspaper) need to be thrown away.
A general rule of thumb is to clean your Beardie’s tank at least once every two weeks. If it’s visibly dirty or smells, then you can clean it more often.
Also, depending on the bedding you have, you might be able to get away with cleaning their tank once a month or so.
No matter how dirty it is, though, and no matter what bedding you use, you’ll want to spot-clean the tank every day.
Spot-cleaning every day will help keep bad bacteria from growing within their terrarium. In addition, whenever they have a bowel movement, you can get it out of their way so that the tank doesn’t begin to smell.
There are so many options for you to choose from when it comes to giving your Bearded Dragon the best bedding.
When choosing bedding, you’ll need to put some thought into what’s best for your Beardie in terms of comfort and safety. Your Bearded Dragon will thank you for it later.
Also, think about what’s cost-effective and easy to clean for you.
Also find our complete guide to the best heat lamp for your Beardie here, best UVB light here, what bearded dragons do for fun here and more about raising bearded dragons here. Read more about Bearded Dragons here.As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.