Best Substrate for Bearded Dragons

7 Best Substrate for Bearded Dragons 2024

What’s the best substrate for bearded dragons? The selection process, for the food substrates, must be a deliberate and engaging act by any beardie lover.  

But different substrates are made suited for a given function within a certain environment/ cage/enclosure floor

Maybe you already know that bearded dragons eat a variety of foods – including cabbages, and bananas. You will therefore need to select best substrate that suit your beardie’s locality from the reviews below. Let’s get started. 

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1. Zilla Alfalfa Meal Beardie’s Substrate

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Zilla Alfalfa is an ultra-slim bearded dragon’s substrate that will offer unlimited comfort to your pet lizard due to its smooth and soft grades. The product is 100% natural and made from the alfalfa.

Your beardie will enjoy continuous safety from easier to digest product (when swallowed) that is harmless to its digestive track.

The biostatic agent in Zilla Alfalfa will highly reduce bacteria and germs that may encroach or be present in the cage thus maintaining a continuous healthy existence. Moreover, the product is manufactured with air sacs (act as heat absorbents), which help cool your beardie during hot weather. 

The air gaps in Zilla can also hold heat that will keep your beardie warm for sometimes during the cold season. The Zilla Alfalfa is biodegradable thus can decompose naturally in the farm or compost pit without emitting odor.

This substrate will stay fresh for a longer period and in case it get soiled, you simply sweep it off. It is necessary to maintain one to two bed thickness when using Zilla Alfalfa for best performance.

Importantly, this product is also suitable for other carnivorous and herbivorous reptiles such as monitors, tortoise, turtle or iguanas.

The Good:

  • Readily and Easier to digest when eaten – not harmful
  • Highly reduce bacteria and germs
  • Ideal for both juvenile and mature bearded dragon
  • 100% Natural and ultra-absorbent beddings
  • Also suitable for monitors, turtles and iguanas

The Bad:

  • May cause impaction if too much is eaten

2. Zoo Med Eco Cage Bearded Dragon Carpet Substrate

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The Zoo Med Eco is a tensile think rectangular carpet substrate option suitable for your bearded dragon. It’s interwoven with strong soft durable plastic mesh that generates extra comfort on your pet lizard when relaxing.

The trim option and allowance that comes with Zoo Med Eco will give a chance of perfect fitting in your beardie’s cage or enclosure without strain (you can cut to sizes that suit your needs).

Zoo Med Eco is washable (easier to wash) and can be recycled over 50 times if well maintained.  In addition, this product allows free penetration of beardie’s urine without wetting its berry.

The perfect edge interlock and final finish makes it difficult for the beardie to accidentally ingest it. Moreover, the carpet is manufactured with internal spring back effect that allows it to coil back/inward after cutting thus preventing your beardie from destroying the mesh network.

The smooth surface finish of Zoo Med Eco generates a nice walking surface for your beardie that won’t interfere with its scales while crawling. However, it is required that you trim the beardie’s nails to avoid any snagging on the surface.

The Good:

  • Highly absorbent and non-abrasive
  • Comes with trim option and allowance
  • Highly compacted with spring back option– not easier to ingest
  • Durable and comfortable – smooth surface finish
  • Flexible and easier to clean – can be recycled
  • Relatively cheap/budget friendly

The Bad:

  • Not biodegradable
  • Can affect beardies nails
  • No biostatic agent

3. Exo Terra Sand Mat Bearded Dragon Substrate

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The desert appearance that comes with Exo Terra creates and appealing environment that boost the psychological confidence of your beardie it crawls.

This product has a relative rough surface (with a fine/smooth finish) that provide a perfect grip to your beardie while crawling without affecting its crawls or scales.

Exo Terra is easier and simple to clean – you actually deep the soiled sand mat in treated water, rinse to dry and put it back to the beardie’s cage or enclosure.

Not to forget, the sand made product is manufacture with microbial agents that limit any bacterial growth or germs intrusion.

The sand particles of Exo Terra are strongly fixed on the surface thus preventing any ingestion by your pet beardie (safe). In addition, Exo Terra is large enough to cover relatively large ground surface (47.5 inches by 17.5 inches). You will also enjoy trim option provided in Exo Terra to help fit it in your cage size perfectly well.

The Good:

  • Easier to Clean –rinse to dry
  • Firm grip and nice surface texture
  • Desert surface appearance and minimizes bacteria build up
  • Can be Trimmed to your fit options
  • Strong Network and easer to remove/replace
  • Safe and hygienic with natural nice smell – no odor
  • Can’t be ingested

The Bad:

  • Fewer re-use options
  • Unsuitable for baby beardie-may be rough on them

4. Zoo Med Vita-Sand in Gobi Gold-Beardie Substrate

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Zoo Med is a convenient substrate for your beardie’s cage/enclosure that is a 100% natural. It’s manufactured using treated and highly fortified calcium carbonate that will add up calcium intake to your beardie’s bloodstream when ingested (safe).

Zoo Med, unlike other substrates, is treated and fortified with extra vitamins (beta-carotene) that will boost beardie’s immune system further. In addition, this product does not contain fat-soluble vitamins that usually lead to impaction when swallowed/ingested in excess.

Importantly, Zoo Med has ultra-fine grains that provides excess comfort to your bearded dragon when crawling or walking. In addition, the pleasant fragrance that comes with Zoo Med will make your beardie dig deep into it for fun or leisure.

Zoo Med comes in 6 color options that will give an aesthetic appearance to your beardie’s cage, enclosure or terrarium. The product is easier to clean as the fine grades easily clot making them possible to scoop when cleaning.

Notably, Zoo Men is budget friendly and usable for both juvenile beardies as well as other reptiles such as desert tortoise, monitors, geckos and uromastyx lizards.

The Good:

  • 100% natural with beta-carotene vitamins-no fat-soluble vitamins
  • Contains treated and fortified calcium carbonate-safe
  • Has no color sealers or artificial dyes/additives
  • No impaction when ingested – has ultra-fine grains/grades
  • Comes in Multiple colors – 6 options
  • Budget friendly and suitable for all age beardie
  • Very pleasant smell/fragrance and easier to clean-substrate clots easily

The Bad:

  • No anti-bacterial agent present

5. Zilla Reptile Terrarium Bedding Substrate Liner

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Zilla Reptile Terrarium is a non-abrasive beardie’s carpet that won’t cause discomfort to your pet lizard when walking. The perfect edge finish coupled with internal spring back effects Zilla prevents beardies from tearing the substrate.

Moreover, Zilla is manufactured using a tough, strong and soft mesh network that gives your beardie great comfort and is difficult to ingest (safe). Also, the beardies will eat , grapes, apples, tomatoes, and cucumbers

Zilla is biodegradable thus will quickly decompose after disposal. The enzymatic compound that comes with Zilla will ensure continuous odor control/removal in the cage.

You will excellently fit this carpet to your beardie’s cage or terrarium easily as Zilla comes with trim-fit option that doesn’t affect the interwoven mesh network.

The smooth and highly absorbent material used in this product makes it very comfortable for both juvenile and adult beardie (urine seeps very fast).

In addition, the carpet is highly flexible and easier to clean – you simply dip it in treated water or tap water, rinse and put it back (you can recycle it for over 45 times if used well). Notably, the US certified product is also budget friendly.

The Good:

  • Biodegradable and has enzymatic odor control
  • Perfect finish with no loose edges
  • Non-abrasive with trim-fit options
  • Comfortable – Don’t irritate the beardies
  • Easier to clean and safe – can’t be ingested
  • Highly absorbent and flexible
  • Ideal for both Juvenile and adult beardies
  • Budget friendly

The Bad:

  • Limited color options

6. Zoo Med Excavator Clay Burrowing Substrate

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Zoo Med Excavator is a soft substrate that is manufactured from ultra-fine clay grains/grades suitable for your beardie’s excellent comfort. The treated clay won’t cause any impaction when swallowed/ingested by beardies (safe) or lead to indigestion problems.

Zoo med doesn’t have any artificial colors, dyes or additives that may harm your beardie or create permanent marks on its skin while burrowing.

This product is ideal to form small hills and terraces for your beardies to burrow through during leisure hours. You can easily spot clean soiled areas without necessarily cleaning the entire cage/enclosure.

The moldable clay doesn’t harden when dry and thus will maintain soft texture while wet or dry for your beardies to play on.

Zoo Med is odor free and comes in a nice fragrance that keeps the entire cage fresh. Moreover, the product inhibits presence of germs and bacteria growth on bearded dragons.

This substrate provides a natural habitat environment as the clay will perfectly seal all the gaps in the enclosure and assume a smooth ground for the pet lizards. Zoo Med is ideal for both juvenile and adult beardies.

Notably, avoid using Zoo Med near a heat source tank as it acquires (easily) and retains a lot of heat.

The Good:

  • Has no artificial colors/dyes/additives
  • You can spot clean in the soiled section
  • Very fine and comfortable – can form soft burrow hills for beardies
  • Moldable clay – never hardens on drying
  • Safe when ingested – doesn’t cause impaction or indigestion problems

The Bad:

  • Retains heat –shouldn’t be used near heat tanks.

7. Reptile Sciences Terrarium Sand for Aquarium

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Reptile terrarium sand is a compound of treated and fortified calcium carbonate that will not only offer a nice comfort to your beardie but will give it an extra calcium uptake when swallowed.

The substrate is mixed with coconut fibers and dust to create extra comfort and burrow option for your beardie. In addition, the sand is manufactured in ultra-fine grades/grains that doesn’t irritate your bearded dragon when crawling or walking.

Your pet lizard will acquire magnesium, potassium and strontium that fortifies this substrate further, in case ingested, without causing any impaction or digestion problems.

Reptile terrarium is 100% natural and doesn’t contain phosphate or silicate ions than may impair your beardie’s normal functions. In addition, this product allow continuous urine seepage and doesn’t hold any wetness on its soft/smooth surface thus maintaining the beardie’s cage ever dry.

Importantly, Reptile terrarium is long lasting – you will replace the first application after 4 to 6 months. However, you need to empty all soiled waste daily (where possible) to avoid any growth of bacteria or germs.

The Good:

  • 100% natural and digestible if ingested
  • Contains Extra minerals- magnesium, potassium, strontium
  • Fortified with natural odor neutralizer
  • Phosphate and silicate free
  • Non-abrasive and highly absorbent
  • Long lasting – 4 to 6 month on single use
  • High seepage and soft texture – comfortable
  • Mixed with coconut fibers and dust to improve burrow option

The Bad:

  • Has no anti-microbial agents
  • Not suitable baby beardies


For healthy beardie’s cage/enclosure/terrarium, you will need to select the best substrate. Consider beardie’s age, cage size and location as well as the prevailing weather when choosing any substrate.

Importantly, focus on improving your beardies comfort and safety during selection. Finally, consider durability and cleaning options before placing your order.

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