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  • Bearded Dragon Substrate

    This is a topic I have gone over with pet store employees, breeders, Bearded Dragon owners, some A-hole, know-it-all at a certain reptile store here in Michigan and no one can come to one conclusion. Therefore, I am here to ask again. Recently, we built a 7 foot by 3 foot cage for our year-in-a-half old Bearded Dragon, Megatron. He is currently on Bed-A-Beast, but we dont like it. Therefore, we would like to know what kind of substrate is safe and what is bad. At one point, we had him on the Walnut Substrate and heard it was absolutely horrible by breeders and great from a worker at Pruess Pets. I heard that repti-bark is also bad. Therefore, WHAT CAN WE USE? We like the Calcium sand, but I have worked with that stuff and I much rather it not get compacted in his stomach (he does dig his head into the dirt/sand and potentially eat it when he is catching crickets.)

    Any advice would be great and I know a lot is going to be conflicting, but if you own a Bearded Dragon and have had great success for many years, LET ME KNOW!
    ..JESSICA..
    | 5.2.2 Crested Gecko | 1.1.0 Leopard Gecko | 1.1.0 Horned Frog | 1.0.2 Panther Gecko |
    | 1.0.1 Bearded Dragon | 1.0 Uromastyx | 1.0 Tiger Salamander | 1.0 Sand Boa |
    | 1.0.0 Gargoyle Gecko | 0.1.0 Mossy Leaftail Gecko |
    | 1.0.0 Mini Lop-Pancakes | 2.1.0 Cats- Bailey, Rufus & Abbey

  • #2
    I kept all my big lizards (iguana,tegu,uromastyx,frilled dragon and beardie) all on tile floors. They can't eat it, You can buy nice stone patterns and easy to clean.

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    • #3
      I agree, that or paper towels. Just make sure with the tile that it doesn't get too hot! I think it's just the tiles with glossy finishes that you are supposed to watch out for, but I am not 100% sure.

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      • #4
        The best substrate is nothing particle. Particle substrates with beardies tend to hold to much humidity, or make it so that there isnt enough humidity (ie using sand). Also using a substrate does a few other things:
        1. higher chance of impaction, play sand considered the "safest", it still runs quite a risk of an impaction. Calcisand isnt digestable and is easily impactable, and walnut sand...err well just google bearded dragon autopsy and you can see for yourself what that stuff does.
        2. Substrate is never clean even after you spot clean. Once your beardie poops in it, it quickly grows alot of bacteria. Beardies tend to have high moisture content feces due to their high veggie intake when adults (ie more water in the diet). Because of this, it will quickly grow bacteria, which is why beardie tanks grow stinky quickly. And because of this, the substrate should be completely change bi weekly.
        3. They are not a desert species and wouldnt normally be found in sand, they are a shrub land where the dirt is very compact and not loose like the soils you find in the pet stores, and are high in large pebble debris.

        Honestly the safest and cleanest substrates are paper towels, newspaper, reptile carpet, slate, tile, non adhesive shelf liner. All of these are easy to clean, and easy to properly watch for poops to insure healthy poops, and no accidental injestion from insect hunting. What do I use? Reptile Carpet, I have it cut into sections in her tank, so when she poops, she only poops on one section so only that section needs to be taken out to clean. Any good vet will tell you the same, particle substrates should be avoided at all costs with this species. For beardies, I believe impaction is about the number one reason why they come into our office, so many people try putting them on sand and dirt not realizing their intestial track is really narrow, causing for impactions easily.
        lets just say I have a lot of stuff
        www.sublimereptiles.com
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        • #5
          Ok peeps, laugh all you want.... my answer is "bird seed". shelled millet. I kept Uromastyx on it a few years ago and then moved the beardeds to it. The seeds are also food and easily digestible, good stuff for omnivores. Te seeds also coat the feces and can be scooped like cat litter. When you need to change it out, feed the clean stuff to the birds!
          Mike
          www.dragontownreptiles.com

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          • #6
            Originally posted by Dragontown View Post
            Ok peeps, laugh all you want.... my answer is "bird seed". shelled millet. I kept Uromastyx on it a few years ago and then moved the beardeds to it. The seeds are also food and easily digestible, good stuff for omnivores. Te seeds also coat the feces and can be scooped like cat litter. When you need to change it out, feed the clean stuff to the birds!
            This! millet was fantastic for our uromastyx. Never had the idea to use it with the dragons. It passes out whole in there poo like corn that way you can see that there always passing it.

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            • #7
              Paper towel would be nearly impossible to keep as a substrate for my 1 1/2 old beardie for the simple fact, I have a 6 in a half foot long tank that he runs back and forth in and it would be destroyed in a matter of seconds. What does everyone think of hay? I have seen several cages with hay and millet, but filling the bottom of the size of tank I have would be too expensive, especially changed every 2 weeks.
              How about reptilite? I know Calci sand is bad, but the bag says its completely digestable. Carpet would be a mess because he poops like a horse and cleaning it would never be sufficient.

              I will post pictures of the newly built tank so everyone can see the size of tank I need to add substrate to. The boys are currently assembling the rest of it. Marty of Marty Made cut the glass today for us (because we dont do glass.)
              ..JESSICA..
              | 5.2.2 Crested Gecko | 1.1.0 Leopard Gecko | 1.1.0 Horned Frog | 1.0.2 Panther Gecko |
              | 1.0.1 Bearded Dragon | 1.0 Uromastyx | 1.0 Tiger Salamander | 1.0 Sand Boa |
              | 1.0.0 Gargoyle Gecko | 0.1.0 Mossy Leaftail Gecko |
              | 1.0.0 Mini Lop-Pancakes | 2.1.0 Cats- Bailey, Rufus & Abbey

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              • #8
                Due to the size of the enclosure and your boy likes to dig, could you tile 50% of it and then use millet in the other 50%? IMO, cleaning would be much easier for you this way and he would have a digging section.
                Andi - Gray Sky Exotics
                www.iHerp.com/Hannibal
                www.facebook.com/andi.vanzant

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                • #9
                  Were trying to train him to poop in one area, so we would be able to do that, but he would just make his tank a complete mess until we get him to use one spot for the bathroom.
                  ..JESSICA..
                  | 5.2.2 Crested Gecko | 1.1.0 Leopard Gecko | 1.1.0 Horned Frog | 1.0.2 Panther Gecko |
                  | 1.0.1 Bearded Dragon | 1.0 Uromastyx | 1.0 Tiger Salamander | 1.0 Sand Boa |
                  | 1.0.0 Gargoyle Gecko | 0.1.0 Mossy Leaftail Gecko |
                  | 1.0.0 Mini Lop-Pancakes | 2.1.0 Cats- Bailey, Rufus & Abbey

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                  • #10
                    Millet is a great idea. I've used nothing but rabbit pellets(alfalfa not poop) for almost 20 years now and have never had a problem.
                    We're gonna need a bigger boat.

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                    • #11
                      Hey,

                      I've been breeding Bearded and Frilled Dragons for some time now and have talked to other breeders that have been doing much longer than me. I (they) use Playsand, I buy mine from HomeDepot, 50lbs bags, what little they may ingest will pass right through them. I dont keep a water dish in with the big Dragons (it's way to messy), I take them out and put them in the sink,twice a week.
                      Hatchling are put on paper towel and dont switch them over to playsand until there about 7/8 months old and I do keep a small water dish in there for them, they require more water than adults.

                      Joe
                      www.dragonslare.com
                      1.4. Frilled Dragons, 4.5.0.15 Bearded Dragons, 1.4.31.24 Crested Geckos, 1.4.0.2 Halmahera Giant Geckos (marginata), 1.1. Gargoyle Geckos, 3.8.6.4 Leopard Geckos, 1.5.1.20 Chinese Cave Geckos, 2.1.2.4 Fat-Tail Geckos, 1.1. Mossy LeafTail Gecko's, 0.1 Henkeli LeafTail Gecko, 0.3. African Banded Velvet Gecko's, 0.0.2 Madagascan Giant Day Gecko's, 1.0. Veiled Chameleons, .1.1. Cyrtodactylus irianjayaensis 1.1. Cyrtodactylus intermedius 1.4.Tibetan Frog-Eyed Gecko's

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                      • #12
                        we have our beardie on terrarium mat, its GREAT! when it gets dirty you take it out and wash it, and there is nothing they cant eat it, unless of course they dig at it, in whichcase you just melt the edges and its good as new My step-mom uses this in 99% of her tanks at her pet store
                        Bearded: Sefira
                        Water Dragon: Leviathan
                        Crestie:Mushu
                        Boyfriend LOL

                        she will not go this I know, till all the stars have fallen<3

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                        • #13
                          I really like reptile carpet. It doesn't get as cool as tile, easy to clean, eliminates risk of impaction,and you can buy it in different colors to match your decor. Only problem is it can harbor bacteria so make you wash frequently. I take hot hot water to clean up poop and scrub it, and once a week wash it on warm In the washer. All of my beardies have it. Good luck!
                          1.1.5 R. ciliatus
                          2.1.0 P. vitticeps
                          0.1.0 Silkie P. vitticeps

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                          • #14
                            Slate, tile, lino, brown paper, if you want to use a sand please don't use calci-sand, when we first got our bearded dragons my mum bought some and within a few minutes they were both eating it. I removed it straight away. (I knew how bad calci-sand was but she insisted) They say calci-sand is digestible but it isn't. What happens is the reptile will sometimes eat it on purpose (like our beardies did) because they like the taste... when it's wet it then clumps together and then it goes hard. If you want to use a sand the safest would be playsand, it's much finer so easier for them to pass if they happen to swallow some...
                            1.0.0 Leopard Gecko Dexter
                            2.1.1 Fire Bellied Toads Mr. Toad, Wart, Croak & Splosh
                            1.1.0 Bearded Dragons Norbert & Saphira
                            0.0.1 Crested Gecko Naboo
                            0.0.1 Hainan Cave Gecko Voodoo

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Dragontown View Post
                              Ok peeps, laugh all you want.... my answer is "bird seed". shelled millet. I kept Uromastyx on it a few years ago and then moved the beardeds to it. The seeds are also food and easily digestible, good stuff for omnivores. Te seeds also coat the feces and can be scooped like cat litter. When you need to change it out, feed the clean stuff to the birds!
                              Mike, you sir are brilliant!
                              Showing you the rebel within

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