Best Substrate For Bearded Dragons

Choosing the best bearded dragon substrate can be a daunting task. With so many options to choose from, it can be confusing on which is the right solution for your beardie.

The substrate you choose could have an impact on your overall cage design, your bearded dragon’s health and happiness, and how much time you spend cleaning the enclosure.

The substrate is one of the biggest decisions you will make when it comes to setting up your tank and preparing to bring your bearded dragon home. You may choose to change substrates as your bearded dragon matures.

Best Bearded Dragon Substrate

Zilla Reptile Terrarium Bedding Substrate Liner

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The Zilla Reptile Terrarium Bedding Substrate Liner is a durable reptile carpet which is available in a plush green or brown to blend in with your vivarium design.

The carpet is easy to use, simply remove from packaging and cut to size, laying it down to cover the bottom of the tank.

This is a non-abrasive carpet made by Zilla, which has been certified by the United States Association of Reptile Keepers. The carpet has been treated with biodegradable enzymes to reduce odors.


  • Easy to clean
  • Non abrasive
  • Plush carpet in green or brown
  • Multiple sizes


  • Need more than one carpet for cleaning
  • Confusing size instruction
  • Risk of teeth and claws getting snagged

Zoo Med Reptile Cage Carpet

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Zoo Med Reptile Cage Carpet is made using non-absorbent plastic which offers a non-abrasive lining for the bottom of your bearded dragon habitat.

The carpet comes in a pack of two with a choice of sizes available. Zoo Med a leader in reptile products around the world. They invented UVB lighting for reptiles in 1995.


  • Two packs
  • Simple cleaning for easy maintenance
  • Choice of sizes
  • Reputable brand
  • No risk of impaction
  • Visually appealing


  • Could increase humidity levels
  • Fibers could stick in teeth and claws

Hamiledyi Reptile Carpet Natural Coconut Fiber

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This reptile carpet is made from natural coconut fibers, offering an easy-to-clean substrate with reduced risk of odors.

This non-abrasive and absorbent carpet comes in a choice of colors in a handy two-pack, for added convenience. The Hamiledyi Reptile Carpet can offer a natural substrate to complete your habitat.


  • 100% natural
  • Two pack – one in tank and one being cleaned
  • Visually appealing
  • Choice of colors
  • Non abrasive
  • Absorbent


  • Nails can get caught in the carpet fibers
  • The film on top of the carpet can make it difficult to lie perfectly straight
  • It is possible for dirt to get caught in the coconut fibers, making it a little harder to clean

Duck Brand Smooth Top Easy Liner

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This liner comes in a decent size which can be cut to the size of the enclosure to provide a covering over the glass bottom.

This non slip liner can be wiped clean for simple cleaning and is machine washable. The liner comes with a choice of grips, this reduces the risk of it sliding around the cage as your beardie runs from one side to the other.

It is smooth on top, making a quick wipe clean possible.


  • Easy cleaning
  • Machine washable
  • Affordable price
  • Cut to size
  • Good base grip to reduce sliding around the enclosure


  • Doesn’t file down nails
  • Top is smooth which could result in dragon slipping when running

Gorilla Grip Original Smooth Top Slip-Resistant Drawer and Shelf Liner

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The Gorilla Grip shelf liner is a durable and affordable substrate you can use in your beardie tank that is slip-resistant, reducing the risk of your substrate sliding around the tank as your bearded dragon moves.

The liner comes in a choice of colors and is very easy to clean. This could be a great option for beginners.


  • Slip resistant to reduce sliding around the tank
  • Easy cleaning and replacement
  • Comes in a roll, cuts to size
  • Affordable


  • There could be a strong smell when first taken out of packaging
  • The lining is on the thin side. This could result in small tears and rips from your bearded dragon’s claws as he/she runs across the tank.

Why Does Your Bearded Dragon Need Substrate

Being a bearded dragon owner means wanting to provide the best habitat for your reptile. The bearded dragon lives in a desert climate with sand or pebbled ground with large stones where they bask in the sun.

Housing a bearded dragon in captivity enables you to try out a host of substrates to ensure your beardie feels comfortable and at home in their cage.

When it comes to substrates, you are going to want to focus on ensuring your bearded dragon feels comfortable, that the product you choose is easy to clean, to ensure your bearded dragon enjoys a healthy environment, while considering the time you have available for cleaning and maintenance.

Things to Be Aware of

When it comes to making your bearded dragon substrate selection you will want to ensure you take the following important warnings into consideration:

  • Be aware of small grain particles, such as sand, which if digested could cause impaction.
  • Watch out for choosing stones or pebbles that have sharp edges which could injure your dragon.
  • Small pebbles if eaten could cause damage to your dragon’s teeth.

Bearded Dragon Bedding Options

In the wild, a bearded dragon will run across the sand and small pebbles. While in the wild this is a great substrate, in captivity, sand can be a dangerous option. There is a lot of debate when it comes to sand as your natural substrate option.

The concern is that bearded dragons will eat what is given to them along with any particles of substrate that may be caught on the food. When eaten it can cause a digestive problem in bearded dragons called impaction, which requires urgent veterinary care.

For this reason, not many bearded dragon owners are happy using sand or small pebbles in their cages.

There is a wide variety of substrates available which can be used in a bearded dragon’s enclosure.

Reptile Carpet

Reptile carpet is an artificial substrate that is manufactured to simulate the desert grass that your bearded dragon may have come across if they lived in the wild.

The reptile carpet is a visually appealing addition to any cage and covers the entire glass floor, offering a soft and comfortable footing for your beardie.

The reptile carpet offers easy cleaning, a soft footing, excellent absorbency, easy to use solution that can be cut to fit any tank size. While the reptile carpet offers excellent visual appeal, it has a reputation for catching on dragon claws.

How to clean reptile carpet

Shelf Liners

Shelf liners are easy to purchase at any home improvement store with minimum danger to your dragon. The risk of impaction is eliminated and the liners are quick and easy to clean.

These are affordable solutions that can be machine washed and come in a choice of colors. You cut the liner to the size you need, ensuring a perfect fit. The downside of shelf liners is that they don’t help in filing down your dragon’s claws.


Sand is highly debated as a bearded dragon substrate, though it is very visually appealing and a natural option to add to your enclosure. The danger of sand is impaction, especially in younger bearded dragons.

The pros to using this substrate are the affordable price, the fact it’s natural and allows easy burrowing and digging.

Sand can make the enclosure heavy; it can cause impaction and it can be messy when taking your beardie out for some playtime.


Clay is another of the welcome natural substrates to use in a bearded dragon cage. Clay is excellent for digging and burrowing and is visually appealing when designing your tank. The risk of impaction is reduced, but it can still occur with the smaller particles of clay.

The downside to using this substrate is that it is not a good option when wet and it may contain pathogens.


Newspaper is an easy and affordable substrate for bearded dragons. You can buy newspapers anywhere and they are a safe option. Lie the newspaper down flat on the floor of the cage or shred it to promote natural behaviors, such as burrowing and digging.

The good news is that choosing a newspaper offers an affordable and safe substrate that you simply replace when it comes time to clean.

It’s important to note that newspapers can cause an increase in humidity in the tank. You will also find your fingers will be full of ink and your bearded dragon’s feet could be dirty when you take them out to play.

Ceramic Tiles

Ceramic tiles are a simple and easy substrate that you can purchase at any home improvement store with a wide choice of colors and textures readily available for purchase.

These are very easy to clean; the right of impaction is eliminated and the range of options is vast.

On the downside, ceramic tiles retain heat, which can cause burning to your dragon if you are not careful. In addition to this, they provide no cushioning in the event your dragon does fall inside their enclosure.

Paper Towel

Paper towel is highly absorbent and can be purchased anywhere. It’s an affordable solution for your bearded dragon enclosure. It’s lightweight, it’s soft on the feet, it eliminates the risk of impaction and it’s easy to clean, simply remove and replace.

The negative to using paper towels is that it doesn’t provide a visually appealing enclosure and it tends to smell if you don’t change the towel regularly.


In conclusion, choosing a substrate for your bearded dragon will still come down to what works best for you and what your dragon prefers. Consider safe and healthy options, such as reptile carpets, shelf liners, newspaper, and paper towels, while reducing how many pebbles, sand, and clay you use.

Take the amount of time you have available for cleaning and maintenance when choosing a substrate, ensuring cleaning is quick, easy, and completely hassle-free.

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