Bearded dragons are native to desert and semi-desert areas. This means that they have their own accustomed way of living including the materials they love in their natural habitat.
This is the reason why, in captivity, bearded dragons have special needs. One of the common requirements in providing bearded dragons with perfect habitat is the type of beddings in their tank.
This may seem irrelevant to new bearded dragon owners, but the truth is that beddings are very important. The materials being used are essential in maintaining the beardies’ good health.
Fortunately, there are many available beddings you can choose in the market. Eco earth is one of them. But, is eco earth good for bearded dragons?
Well, there are many bearded dragon owners who use eco earth as the main bedding of their beardies’ tank. They found no problem at all. However, it is important to remember that eco earth is super dusty when it is dry and retains too much water when wet which in turn increases humidity.
Click here to check eco earth substrate on Amazon.
- Ideal for naturalistic terrarium type set-ups incorporating reptiles, amphibians or invertebrates
- Use it damp for tropical species as it naturally absorbs and breaks down odor and waste products
- Add Eco Earth loose coconut fiber substrate on top of Zoo Meds HydroBalls to create an ideal drainage layer for optimum plant growth, humidity and drainage in naturalistic terrariums
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If you want to provide your bearded dragon with something he/she can dig in, then eco earth may not be enough. What you can do is to use a dig box with a combination of topsoil and sand (70/30) in it.
However, if you want to go on this route, I recommend using tile instead of carpet. This way it will be easy to clean the mess in the tank.
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What are Other Alternatives to Eco Earth for Bearded Dragons?
Eco earth is not for every bearded dragon. It depends on their behavior in their tank. If your beardy likes to dig, you might need something that answers to his/her need.
Fortunately, if that is the case, there are other alternatives you can use instead of eco earth bedding.
Below are some of the materials you can choose from:
1. Paper Towels and Non-Adhesive Shelf Liner
When choosing the right bedding for your bearded dragon, safety is the utmost consideration. Bearded dragons are prone to impaction if they eat hard and ingestible materials.
The good thing about paper towels is that it does not cause digestive issues to beardies. It is inexpensive and easy to clean up.
The only complaint that I have with a paper towel is that crickets tend to hide under it. This happens when some live crickets managed to escape your bearded dragon during the meal.
Lastly, a paper towel does not offer an aesthetic value to the tank. In fact, it looks boring. So if you want to make your beardies’ tank presentable, it is not the best route to go.
2. Slate Tiles
Another alternative to eco earth is slate tiles. Unlike paper towels, slate tiles look good and very easy to clean.
Slate tiles keep your beardies safe from the impaction issue. What I love the most about slate tiles is that they are hassle-free to clean. Not only that, but they also retain heat at night.
However, if you have a female bearded dragon that is about to lay eggs, make sure that you provide her a lay box. If not, your female beardy will try to dig in the tile which in turn causes physical issues.
3. Coconut Fiber and Sand
Another alternative to eco earth bedding is the combination of coconut fiber and sand. If done properly, these materials give your bearded dragon an environment similar to their original habitat.
Coconut fiber and sand have several benefits. The sand is easy to clean while the coconut fiber adds the humidity of the habitat. Both are inexpensive and easy to implement.
However, I have a caution here. You need to remember though that bearded dragons are prone to impaction and other digestive issues. Sand and coconut fiber could potentially cause an impaction problem because they are both ingestible.
So what you can do to avoid this potential problem? Well, the reason why beardies accidentally eat their substrate is when the food falls onto it and the dragon tries to pick it up.
So to avoid possible impaction, the best solution is to feed your beady outside of the tank and use a feeding bowl. Make sure that the area is free of the loose substrate that could easily be eaten by your bearded dragon.
Sand and coconut fiber are not new to bearded dragons. They had these in their natural habitat. In captivity, you just need to make sure that these materials will not affect the overall health of your beardy.
Will the Combination of Silicone and Eco Earth Cause Impaction?
This is one of the common questions I get from my readers. They asked if they could use silicone on top of the eco earth as the main bedding for their bearded dragons.
Well, I don’t have personal experience with these materials. However, I strongly believe that they are impaction hazards for bearded dragons.
I don’t use it for my beardies and I definitely not recommended it for your bearded dragons too. Choose the materials that have lower chances of causing health problems to your lizards.
Is Mixed Substrate (Sand, Topsoil, and Coco Husk) Safe for Bearded Dragons?
Despite the controversy in using a loose substrate, I still see many bearded dragon owners who use mixed substrate. Some use the 50/50 sand and topsoil mix. While others prefer 40/40/20 sand, topsoil, and coco husk. And they had no problem with their beardies.
The only drawback that I see with this application is that soil-based bedding really takes time and a real deal of effort.
However, if you don’t want to take chances with your bearded dragons, I suggest that you always choose the safest route. I don’t really recommend this method either.
This is because sand and other dirt substrates are known to be potent ground for bacteria and fungi which could potentially cause several problems to bearded dragons.
The safest substrate I found is a solid substrate like floor tile, nonadhesive shelf liner, vinyl, and paper towels. These materials are easy to clean.
However, the solid substrate does not allow beardies to dig. If you have a female beardy that is about to lay eggs, using a solid substrate is not a good idea without providing a lay box.
Final Thoughts on Eco Earth for Bearded Dragons
Eco earth can be used as the main substrate for bearded dragons. The only complaint of some beardy owners is that this material tends to be dusty when dry and retains too much water when wet. The water retained in it will in turn increase the humidity of the whole enclosure.
However, if your female bearded dragon is about to lay eggs, eco earth substrate alone may not be enough. She needs something to dig in. It is important to provide her a lay box.
In general, choosing the right and the best substrate for a bearded dragon involves an understanding of your beardies’ needs. I found that bearded dragons are not created equal.
As an owner, you need to carefully assess the needs of your beardy.
But the best recommendation I can give is to always choose the best substrate materials for your bearded dragons.
I hope this helps.
To learn more about bearded dragons, feel free to visit my guide page.