What is a substrate and do bearded dragons need a substrate?
The answer to this particular question is very simple, Yes! At most time, Bearded dragons do need substrate for a healthy living. So, what exactly is a substrate? A substrate can be referred to any covering or layer on the floor of the enclosure that your bearded dragon is kept into. And depending on certain preferences, there are several different kinds of substrates available for bearded dragons’ enclosures.
Though the topic about what can be the best substrate for a bearded dragon has been highly debatable for a long time. The people belonging to the bearded dragon community often use different substances as a substrate to see which one suits the dragon the best. But choosing the right substrate is quite complicated, there are several factors that you need to look into before choosing a proper substrate for your dragon. Some factors can be, the age of the bearded dragon or the time taken to clean the particular substrate. These factors might sound unimportant but when you look at things, in the long run, you will see the results.
What can be the best bedding substrate for bearded dragons?
There are numerous bedding options available all across the market for bedding purposes into a bearded dragon’s enclosure, but when you are to choose the best among them, you might have to do a lot of thinking, but worry not, here is a list of the three best bedding for bearded dragons that you can buy from any regular pet shops.
Sand, Grains, and Pebbles.
When you spot a bearded dragon in their natural environment, you may easily notice that they spend almost their entire life running across areas that are filled with sands, minute grains, and pebbles. And this is one of the sole reasons why many bearded dragon owners feel that sand is one of the best substrates for a bearded dragon’s enclosure.
But putting a layer of sand or grains have their risks. These types of bedding might increase the risk of gut impaction. You might know what a gut impaction is? If not, then a gut impaction happens when the reptile swallows sands or grain particles which blocks their intestinal tract and if this isn’t treated immediately, it leads to the reptile’s death.
Another alternative to reduce the chances of gut impaction is by using pebbles and gravel instead of sand. These particles are often referred to as the best bedding for bearded dragons enclosure. And this is the reason why most pet stores advise pebbles and gravel instead of sand particles. But still, there is a risk of the reptile swallowing a piece of a small pebble, look out for such instances and take proper steps when something like that happens.
One can also use other alternatives of sands, such as non-silica sands which are fit for adult bearded dragons. Or there are also sands enriched with calcium, these are called Vita Sands and do not cause any gut impaction since the calcium gets metabolized inside the gut and wouldn’t cause any harm to the reptile.
Reptile Carpets or Cage Liners.
If you are a good spender and budget isn’t an issue when buying things for a bearded dragon’s enclosure, then reptile carpets are something that you should look for. these carpets are also called cage liners as they prove to be one of the best bedding for bearded dragons.
So, what exactly is a Reptile Carpet? In general terms, a reptile carpet can be referred to any type of layer or bed made from synthetic materials to replicate the environment deems fit for reptiles. The environments can consist of either grass or sands depending on the requirements.
How are these Reptile Carpets set up? Setting up the Reptile Carpets is very easy. You simply have to lay it across the enclosure like a normal carpet and cover the bottom of the enclosure area completely.
Risks of using a Reptile Carpet – there are not many risks associated with using reptile carpets, especially no gut impaction or death, but sometimes the bearded dragon’s claw might get caught inside one of the liners and form a snag. There is a chance that the claw might rip off, and due to this, it is always advised to use a carpet that has tight weaves into it.
Recycled Papers, Newspapers and Paper beds.
When you look for other cheap options instead of sands, pebbles or gravel, old newspapers might do the charm here. Using old newspapers, scraps or other papers sometimes becomes a suitable substrate that you can set inside the bearded dragon’s enclosure.
Newspapers are very easy to maintain and can be found almost everywhere around your house. If you think you can spare the appearance that a cage liner or sand provides, then this becomes one of the best bedding for bearded dragons. Also, there aren’t any risks involving papers, you can be completely free from any worry regarding gut infection or claw ripping off due to snags.
If you consult the pet stores about it, many sell recycled papers and many other types of papers that can be easily put into the bottom of the enclosure and would also fix some of the appearance issues. Though papers are subjected to retain humidity and might get spoiled if it catches any moisture, various papers come with water-repelling property to solve such a problem.
Always take a note that whenever you are buying a substrate for your bearded dragon, it will be subjected to wear and tear and also disassembly due to continuous usage. And in such cases, you should either change it or set the bed up properly again. Doing this regularly will keep your reptilian pet away from any risks. Also, cleaning and regular maintenance are two of the things that are recommended to perform at least once a week. The next thing that you must check is the reptile’s health staying inside a certain substrate, checking it regularly will keep the reptile comfortable and also away from any health risks.