There are many choices for the kind of substrate to choose for your reptile’s enclosure. Some are better for the health of your reptile than others. Essentially what you want to look out for are substrates that could get stuck in the intestinal tract of your reptile and cause an impaction. The ingestion of the substrate usually happens when your reptile misses her prey and gets a mouthful of substrate instead.
Here is a list of commonly used substrates, which should actually be avoided:
- Calcium Sand- this is the coarse, sometimes colourful stuff you see in pet stores. The granules usually have a somewhat sharp edge to them which would obviously cause damage to your reptiles internal organs.
- Walnut shell- this is also coarse and is made of crushed walnut shell.
- Corn cob bedding
- Paper pellets
- Cat Litter
- Wood Shavings- unless you are keeping a snake and even then only use Aspen. Pine and Cedar are definite no-no’s.
- Newspaper or paper towel- incredibly cheap, very easy to replace, but not very natural looking.
- Play sand or fine grain sand- cheap, natural looking, long lasting and easy to sift, but can cause problems if wet and can be dusty. Provides a good environment to encourage burrowing and digging.
- Coconut fibre or bark- also cheap, natural looking, maintains humidity for tropical forest reptiles. Can be mistakenly ingested but usually causes a problem only when large amounts are eaten.
- Slate rock- my personal favourite for desert reptiles. Natural looking, long lasting, easy to clean, impossible to ingest and keeps nails blunt. What’s not to like?
You can get the play sand and slate rock from almost any hardware store. Coconut fibre can be bought in large quantities at most hydroponics stores. Smaller slate rocks and smaller quantities of coconut fibre can be bought at some pet stores.