Picking the Right Substrates

Gecko, Leopard Gecko, Reptile, Macro

Some substrates are regarded as safer than others, while some are downright dangerous. There are a few that people have varying viewpoints on, such as sand.

Your lizards will not succeed on bare glass, so it is a good idea to provide them with something to live on. There are lots of different options available, from paper to sand to stone to wood chips. You can discover many of them in your home or local pet shop. However, don’t assume security.

Some are more suitable than others, and some are really hazardous to your lizard and can cause considerable health problems. Do not assume that just because a substrate is supplied in the pet store, it will be safe. Even bedding branded for leopard geckos may not be a good idea.

Leopard geckos should not be housed on cedar or pine, as these aromatic woods are poisonous to them, and to almost every other small animal kept as a pet. The substances that keep these wood chips smelling good are also toxic when inhaled in large quantities or when eaten.

Bear in mind that there is a fantastic chance your pet will consume some of its substrate when it catches insects, or in an effort to maximize its calcium levels.

This tendency is one reason that some people choose to bed their lizards on particular calcium-rich sand, as it provides a calcium supplement when ingested, and will not be poisonous. However, there’s some debate about the digestibility of the substrate, as well as concern over using other forms of sand, because they can cause blockages of the digestive tract.

If sand is chosen, make sure it’s the finest sand you can find, as opposed to a coarser builder’s sand, and provide regular and copious calcium supplementation to dissuade your lizard from eating it. Lots of people successfully keep their animals on sand without any problems, but they must pay careful attention.

If using paper, such as newspaper or paper towels, be sure that it’s sterile, or any inks used are non-toxic. Just remove the paper and add fresh substrate whenever it’s dirty. It is not a very natural looking option, however.

Bark is usually a poor option, being hard to clean and easy to consume. Reptile carpet, specially made to be used with snakes and lizards, is a washable, easy to clean substrate that comes pre cut into the most popular tank sizes, but doesn’t offer a natural appearance.

Some people also choose to use slate or ceramic tiles, since these are relatively natural in appearance (unglazed ceramic is better for this than glazed) and offer horizontal basking surfaces without the danger of substrate ingestion.

No matter what substrate you opt to use, make sure it’s clean and free of harmful objects or substances before placing it into your terrarium. Decide whether you want to simply be able to wash it, or if you’ll want to replace it if its dirty, and if a natural look is a big priority. This will say the best bedding for your geckos.

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