6 Brilliant Bearded Dragon Dig Box Substrate Ideas (+ Reviews)

Sharing is caring!

 Want to learn about bearded dragon dig box substrate?

Already know what it is, but not sure which type is the best?

Either way, I’ve got you covered!

Below, I’ll take you through all kinds of different substrates and give you the pros and cons of each, as well as recommendations.

This post contains affiliate links. We earn a commission if you make a purchase at no extra cost to you.

ALSO CHECK: The Best Basking Lamp for Bearded Dragon

Our Top Picks

Check out the table for a quick overview of these substrates, then read on for more details!

Duck Smooth Top EasyLiner, 12-inch x 20 Feet, White
Top Benefit
Easy to Slide Objects
Check Latest Price
Zoo Med Excavator Clay Burrowing Substrate, 10 Pounds
Top Benefit
All Natural, No Dyes or Chemicals
Check Latest Price
SunVilla SV7'X13' Realistic Indoor/Outdoor Artificial Grass/Turf 7 FT X 13 FT (91 Square FT)
Top Benefit
Check Latest Price

What is Substrate?

Put in the simplest terms, substrate is to your bearded dragon’s habitat as a floor is to your home.

You wouldn’t dream of walking around on concrete or whatever other type of subfloor your home uses, right?

Not only is it potentially unsafe, but it’s not exactly homey!

Well, your bearded’s substrate to be something that allows them to feel at home and is safe too. 

To be clear, a substrate is a material that’s put on the floor of your bearded dragon’s dig box and can be referred to as beddings too. 

While you can theoretically line the dig box with anything, only a few types of substrate are actually safe.

And not all of them work very well for them, so you’ll need to get all the facts right to ensure you get the best. 

Types of Bearded Dragon Substrates

Before we get to the list of the best-bearded dragon substrates, it’s important to note that we have two main categories. 

  • The loose particles substrate 
  • Non-particle substrate 

The Loose Particle Substrate 

Unfortunately, many bearded dragon owners strongly advise against the loose particle substrates. 

This is because they feel like the particles may come in contact with the nose and eyes of the beardies causing infections.

This is especially with the baby bearded dragons who may ingest the particles because they’re not good hunters yet. 

Yet, some bearded dragon owners still swear it works well for them.

If you decide to use the loose particle substrate, I suggest keeping a close eye on your beardie. And avoid using it for bearded dragon babies.

Some of the popular loose particle substrates include:

Bark, Wood shavings and Wood Chip 

These are not good substrates because they trap fluids at the bottom of the layer, which becomes a breeding field for pathogens.

Many kinds of wood will also irritate your beardie’s skin and can pose a health risk if consumed.

Alfalfa Pellets 

Alfalfa pellets are better in terms of safety because they’re not harmful even when consumed.

Yet, when the defeats mix with moisture; they form molds, which is both unsanitary and unhealthy to feed on. 

Alfalfa pellets substrate for bearded dragon
a spoon with pellets for rabbits for sale in the forage

Corn Cob and Walnut Sand 

Both of these are dangerous because:

  • They’re sharp and abrasive 
  • They’re a perfect breeding ground for pathogens, bacteria, and fungus
  • Associated with impaction.

Calcium Sand 

You’ve probably read about the benefits of calcium sand, and you’ve seen it’s rich in magnesium, strontium, and potassium. 

But it’s good to keep in mind that a substrate isn’t a dietary supplement. And calcium carbonate is designed for ingestion and not for the skin. 

It causes dry skin and has even been accused of causing skin color change and eye irritation. It’s probably best to work with other substrate options.

Non- Particle Substrate 

As the name implies, the non-particle substrate is a solid of something. These substrates are a better option for your dragon, especially in terms of safety. 

One, the non-particle substrate doesn’t get stirred easily, so they are at no risk of irritating your beardie’s nose or eyes.

And second, they’re easy to clean, so they don’t encourage parasites or pathogens.

Some of the popular substrates in this category include:

  • Rubber shelf liner 
  • Reptile carpet 
  • Newspaper
  • Rubber shelf liner Ceramic tile for bearded dragons.

I’ll not expound on these substrates because most of them are in the next section. 

Best Bearded Dragon Dig Box Substrate Options

So, what did I consider when choosing the best-bearded dragon dig box substrates? I went for options that are;

  • Accessible 
  • Affordable 
  • Safe
  • Easy to clean and maintain 

Below are my options.

1. Rubber Shelf Liner 

Duck Smooth Top EasyLiner, 12-inch x 20 Feet, White

You’ve probably never heard of this one because it’s a new  discovery that’s both easy to clean, inexpensive, and safe. 

The other great thing is that it can stay for several years, so it’s pocket-friendly.


  • Easy to clean and only needs a deep clean once a week 
  • Durable
  • Cheap


  • Relatively new, so not a lot of feedback
  • Not actually designed for pet use

Buy the rubber shelf liner on Amazon.

Duck Smooth Top EasyLiner, 12-inch x 20 Feet, White
  • Ideal for: cabinets and shelves in kitchen, bath and laundry room
  • Non-adhesive grip bottom keeps liner in place and is removable
  • Easy to slide objects such as dishes and glasses in and out of cabinets across smooth top surface
  • Machine washable for easy cleanup. Wash in cold water and lay flat to dry.
  • Smooth Top is a solid surface to keep spills and crumbs contained

2. Newspaper, Paper Towels and Paper 

These are obviously the most affordable options, and the beauty of it is that cleaning the cage will be easy-peasy. 

They’re a perfect choice for beardie owners who have a busy schedule and want an easy way to clean the cage.

It’s also an excellent substrate option when your beardie is sick, and their cage needs frequent cleaning.

You can also use the paper option when you’re on a tight budget or buying time before setting up a better substrate for your beardie.

Just make sure you regularly read to ensure you have enough paper to change any soiled newspaper to avoid germs in the cage.


  • Makes cleaning easy.
  • Most options are free or cheap.


  • Insects may hide behind or below it.
  • Ink can run if you use newspapers
  • Paper towels can get pricey, especially these days with pandemic-driven shortages.

CHECK: Best UVB Light for Bearded Dragons

 3. Reptile Carpet 

Hamiledyi Reptile Carpet Natural Coconut Fiber Tortoise Carpet Mat for Pet Terrarium Liner Reptile Supplies for Lizard Snake Chamelon Turtle Bedding Bunny Rabbit Mat (2sheets)

This is one of the most popular substrates, and it does match the hype. The best part is that it’s solid, so you’ll never have to worry about your beardie chewing on it.

And it has absolutely no known health risks. And when it comes to fitting, it can be easily customized to fit any of the best bearded dragon cages

The deal breaker is that it’s not very easy to clean, and you really have to do the cleaning properly to ensure it doesn’t stink. 

I recommend buying two reptile carpets so that your beardie can still enjoy the comfort of their tank when you’re cleaning. 


  • No known health risks to your bearded
  • Chew-proof (or at least highly resistant)
  • Made from natural materials


  • Harder to clean
  • Quick to grow mold if you don’t keep up on cleaning.

Check out what other beardie owners are saying on Amazon

Hamiledyi Reptile Carpet Natural Coconut Fiber Tortoise Carpet Mat for Pet Terrarium Liner Reptile Supplies for Lizard Snake Chamelon Turtle Bedding Bunny Rabbit Mat (2*Sheets)
  • ❤Made of natural coconut fiber, a substrate that not only looks good, but is healthier for your reptile /rabbit,hamster,and small animal than most alternatives.
  • ❤ Reduces odors and is easy to clean with cold tap water.
  • ❤Absorbent, non-abrasive material will not irritate reptiles.You can cut the mat into the size that you need to fit your tank.
  • ❤With the Reptile Carpet’s different colors, we enjoy giving our dragons' homes a" fresh look" after a time.
  • ❤Package including:2 sheets Size:19.7"x11.8"x0.4"(50*30*1cm)

4. Bearded Dragon Substrate Tiles 

Multy Industries Multy Home MT5100000 4-Pack Stomp Stone

All tiles, including the slate tiles pictured here, work very well as a bearded substrate.

Tile substrates are highly recommended because they are permanent. They’re also easy to clean and require low maintenance. 

And if you hate trimming your beardie’s claws, this substrate will do it for you. 

If you realize your tiles are a bit slippery, just add some topsoil with a non-toxic adhesive.

There will be no risk of the bearded dragon eating the sand since it will be glued and the substrate gains a little grip. 

Bonus Tip: You don’t want to buy tiles only to find out they don’t fit in the tank.

An excellent way to avoid this is by taking the tank’s inner measurements before placing an order since most tank dimensions are measured from outside. 

But where do I buy the tiles? You can find the tiles in hardware, but consider ordering from a tiles store if the prices are exaggerated. 


  • Long-term solution
  • Very safe
  • VERY easy to clean and maintain


  • Can be slippery
  • May be pricey, depending on the tiles
Multy Industries Multy Home MT5100000 4-Pack Stomp Stone, 12 by 12-Inch, Slate
  • Durable, lightweight, easy to maintain and made from 98% recycled materials
  • Scratch, stain and moss resistant
  • Comfortable to walk on, skid resistant
  • Ideal for walkways, patios, play areas and more; comes in a beautiful slate colour
  • Easy installation in minutes

5. Clay Substrate 

Zoo Med Excavator Clay Burrowing Substrate, 10 Pounds

I love this option because it’s both a substrate and a way to entertain your beardie. A clay substrate allows you to create some hills and tunnels for your pet. 

If you’re willing to create an adventurous home for your beardie, the excavator clay is the best for the job. 

Note that depending on the cage’s size, you may need up to 20 pounds. However, it works very well with tiles, so you can consider using it in some parts of the cage only.


  • Safe
  • Actually entertaining for your pet
  • Easy to clean and maintain


  • You need a lot of it
  • Costly

Buy the excavator clay on Amazon.

Zoo Med Excavator Clay Burrowing Substrate, 10 Pounds
  • Holds its shape so tunnels won't collapse
  • All natural, no dyes or chemicals
  • Make your reptiles feel like they are at home" in their natural habitat"

6. Artificial Grass 

SunVilla SV7'X13' Realistic Indoor/Outdoor Artificial Grass/Turf 7 FT X 13 FT (91 Square FT)

This is another excellent option, and it can be used together with tiles. This gives your beardie different substrate variations.

Artificial grass is easy to clean because you can simply take it outside and hose it. That said, ensure you deep it in a bucket with a disinfectant to ensure it’s bacteria-free. 

It’s advisable to keep multiple artificial grass pieces to ensure your beardie has one during cleaning days. 


  • Non-toxic
  • Eco-friendly
  • Very comfortable


  • Works best when combined with tile
  • Can be expensive depending on how much you need.

Buy artificial grass from Amazon

SunVilla SV7'X13' Realistic Indoor/Outdoor Artificial Grass/Turf 7 FT X 13 FT (91 Square FT)
  • ✅Premium quality: SunVilla is a marvelous, multi-purpose and very durable superior quality artificial grass/turf Brand, made of Advanced UV resistant Yarn, polyethylene fabric and durable latex backing, All materials come from the top suppliers All over the world and strictly tested in our laboratory. Perfect for all indoor and outdoor projects. SunVilla grass Doesn’t require any infill for even high traffic.
  • ✅ENVIRONMENT FRIENDLY: SunVilla artificial grass is non-toxic and lead free, making it an excellent surface for pets and kids to play on. 4 tone patterns are soft, lush and with 1 3/8" blade height just look like natural grass, providing you with year-round green and turf enjoyment.
  • ✅Save money & always Green: no mowing, no watering, no spraying, no fertilizing, SunVilla artificial grass needs no maintenance and looks perfectly fresh and Green all year Round.
  • ✅BEST CHOICE IN ARTIFICIAL GRASS: Make perfect well-manicured look. SunVilla provides with 10 years with 30 days return policy plus hassle-free customer service make your purchase 100 % worry free!
  • ✅Best matching: please select SunVilla artificial turf self-adhesive seaming tape for your SunVilla turf installation projects for a perfect seamless outcome by clicking

Frequently Asked Questions 

Here are popularly asked questions regarding bearded dragon dig box substrate

How do I clean a reptile carpet?

Ensure you remove the carpet for cleaning before it gets too messy. Throw the carpet in your wash and clean it with mild fragrance-free soap and hot water. 

Beyond that, also make sure you follow manufacturer instructions.

How do I clean a ceramic tile for bearded dragons?

First, make sure you remove waste daily. For a quick clean, use a mixture of water and vinegar to clean the tiles.

Give the tiles time to dry before placing them back in the tank.

It’s also advisable to bake the tiles for 30-60 minutes at 250 degrees to kill any germs at least twice a month.

How do I clean loose particle substrates?

Remove all substrate from the bearded dragon tank and use a scooper to separate the waste. It’s impossible to remove all the waste, which is why we don’t recommend it. 

Bearded Dragon Dig Box Substrate (Final Words)

Just like humans, beardies also appreciate having a comfortable substrate to lay on. 

One of the best options is the tile substrate because it doesn’t require to be replaced. You can add artificial grass on top to give your beardie two different options. 

If you’re on a tight budget, you can try the newspaper substrate as you save up for a better option. 

I hope you have a clear understanding of how to choose a substrate for your beardie’s dig box. 

Are you planning to get a bearded dragon dig box substrate? Check this guide first to find out the substrate's types, pros & cons, and more!

Which bearded dragon dig box substrate do you love most? Share below!

Sylvia K
Sylvia K

Sylvia is passionate about sugar gliders and guinea pigs!

Leave a Comment