Why is it important to select a better option?
Ok, you now know about bearded dragons, but what is this thing called substrate? To put in simple words, the bedding used in reptile cages is called substrate, end of story, but why write an article on it. There are different opinions as to what is the best substrate for bearded dragons and therefore it has become a controversial issue. Beardies like to explore and lick everything in their way; if substrate is indigestible then it can cause impaction, a common disease among beardies.
Here is another scenario, for example if beardies are fed on sand, they can get a mouth full, hence resulting in impaction and if the sand gets into their eyes they might suffer from eye infections or respiratory issues if they inhale it in. For this reason, choosing a good substrate can reduce the risk of impaction etc.
There are different types of substrates available in the market and what you decide to use will depend on how much money you want to spend. If you want your dragon’s cage to have naturalistic look then use sand. Sand is also a good heat absorber and can bring out your dragon’s natural instincts. On the contrary, if dragon ingests too much sand, unable to pass through their system can cause impaction. Therefore, always use commercial sand as it can be digestible and reduces the risk of intestinal blockage. Zoo Med ReptiSand can be a good option because almost all Amazon reviews are positive with a few exceptions.
If you are looking for a less expensive option then you can use reptile carpets. These carpets come in variety of sizes so you can select the one that suits your needs. Search Amazon.com for “reptile carpets” and you will find plenty of them.
If you are looking for a super-cheap option then use unprinted newspaper or paper towel. They are relatively easy to maintain but doesn’t look natural / pleasing when compared with sand or other options. If you are too much cautious about impaction then unprinted newspaper or paper towel is a sure fire way to avoid it.
Some dragon owners have used ceramic tiles for a substrate in terrarium. You can easily clean these tiles and it gives the terrarium a nice look and eliminates the chances of impaction once and for all. Whatever material you choose make sure it is digestible, if swallowed accidently and avoid any synthetic particulates, small pebbles, gravel, walnut shells, wood chips, and cedar shavings.