Choosing a substrate for your reptile or amphibian is equally as important as proper heat, light, humidity and food. Here are some tips for choosing the best substrate type for your reptile:

  • Animals that burrow will prefer soft, fine, or loose bedding that is comfortable to dig in.
  • Arboreal (climbing) species aren’t burrowing. They will do best with a bedding that maintains humidity or provides a basic cover for easy cleanup.
  • Amphibians usually require a substrate that will not rot or grow mold easily from extremely high humidity. A coconut bark or moss substrates are the best choice since they are fungus and rot resistant.

Things to Consider:

Substrate choice is also dependent on the size or age of the reptile, not just the particular behavior.  For example, a small milk snake feels comfortable and safe with a product such as a cage liner carpet. A larger milk snake adapts well on a slightly more coarse media, with a more natural appearance.

Consider the size, age, and feeding behavior of your pet. This also plays a role in finding the right substrate. A small milk snake is safer if kept on the cage liner carpet, since it has a tiny mouth and nostrils which could be easily blocked by substrates that are too fine. Even if the snake is being removed from its habitat to be fed in another container (as it should be), fine substrates can be an issue due to burrowing behavior, which is common in snakes.

Oppositely, lizards are not usually removed from a habitat for feeding so choosing the proper substrate is important. Lizards chase their food all over the habitat and sometimes miss when they try to bite. When that happens, it ends up with a mouth full of substrate! This isn’t as common for reptiles that eat fruits and veggies from a dish but it can still happen.

Do your homework before you buy your substrate and pick the one appropriate for your reptile. In the long run, it will be great for both you and your new family member.



Updated on: October 31, 2017

Updated by: Giselle Rodriguez

About The Author John Flynn

John is the Live Deliveries Manager at Petsolutions, and has 20 years of experience working in the pet care industry specializing in live fish, plants, corals, and reptiles. Outside of PetSolutions, John enjoys photography as well as outdoor activities such as camping and hiking.

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