Bearded dragon bedding is more commonly referred to substrate. It is the material you place on the floor or what lines the bottom of the tank or enclosure. Bearded dragon sand was once a popular choice since bearded dragons hail from the deserts of Australia.
However, in terms of replicating their environment, and while sand seems to be a natural choice given that fact, it is no longer the recommended choice for bearded dragon bedding.
In simple terms the sand does not make the best bearded dragon bedding because the conditions that exist in the desert of Australia cannot be accurately replicated in terms of humidity, rain, and type of sand inside of the tank in your bedroom.
Why sand is not good for bearded dragon bedding
While there is a small chance of ingesting loose particles, recent studies show that one of the leading causes of bearded dragon deaths are related to impaction. Impaction is the process in which they essentially inhale or ingest loose particles while they are either eating or exploring their tank/enclosure with their tongue. As these particles are foreign to them and/or they carry bacteria the bearded dragon is not able to properly digest those particles and as a result get sick.
Along with sand, other once popular bearded dragon bedding (substrates) can cause similar issues. The popularity of bearded dragon sand along with other bearded dragon bedding options mostly came from trends in personalization of tanks and enclosures. However, little information from a scientific or research perspective was known at that time about the potential risks that could occur. Over time, these articles continued to rank at the top of internet search engines making it difficult for new and more accurate information to be shared widely among the community.
In addition to sand, for your bearded dragon bedding we highly advise against the use of walnut shells, potting soil, calci sand, dirt from your backyard or garden, wood shavings or rocks/pebbles.
Better options for bearded dragon bedding
Instead of bearded dragon sand we recommend textured slate tiles. They are heavy but best in terms of ease of cleaning and if they have a little texture they can also help keep your beardies toenails filed. Tiles can be purchased loose and do not need to be sealed together. Sand Mats and reptile carpet also makes a good substrate. Just make sure that the reptile carpet stays trim and is not too ‘loopy’ (have lots of loops) as sometimes your beardies toenails can get caught in there and unwind it or rip it. Black and white print newspapers and paper towels, also work as a great option for your bearded dragon bedding.
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