Substrate Pros and Cons
by Justin Huynh


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Substrate Pros and Cons



[Small Grained Substrates (Pros and Cons)]



{Calci/Vita Sands}


-/Pros:/

Aesthetically pleasing

Pretty easy cleaning

Dig-able


-/Cons:/

Clump with a tiny bit of moisture making it similar to concrete

High Impaction Risk

High surface area, which leads to a breeding are for large amounts of bacteria

Vitamins and Calcium may cause dragons to eat it regularly

Very loose, which may cause the dragon not to have much traction

Expensive


{Play Sands}


-/Pros:/

Larger grain (meaning less surface area for bacterial growth)

Does not clump heavily and harden

Will break apart when wet

Less jagged edges compared to other options

Aesthetically Pleasing

Easy to clean

Lower impaction risk (though not impossible)

Very cheap

Dig-able


-/Cons:/

Not compacted, thus little traction

Large bed for bacterial breeding

Occasionally dusty


{Ground/Crushed Walnut Shells}


-/Pros:/

Aesthetically Pleasing

Pretty easy cleaning

Does not clump as heavily as vita or calci sand

Dig-able


-/Cons:/

Cost

Jagged edges (put it under a microscope and check if you would like)

High Impaction Risk

High surface area, which leads to a breeding are for large amounts of bacteria

Very loose, which may cause the dragon not to have much traction

Occasionally dusty


{Ground Coconut Husk, Soil, and the likes}


-/Pros:/

Aesthetically pleasing

Almost never dusty

Biodegradable

Compact-able

Dig-able


-/Cons:/

Cost

Holds humidity

Clumps heavily

Long strings of pieces that did not grind up

Not easily cleaned due to holding moisture

Low traction

High amounts of space for bacterial proliferation



[Larger Grained and Compacted Substrates (Pros and Cons)]


{Orchid Bark}


-/Pros:/

Aesthetically pleasing

Pretty compact

Very low dust

Dig-able (somewhat)

Good traction


-/Cons:/

Large breeding area for bacteria

Holds humidity

Hard to clean due to holding moisture

Impaction risk due to large particles

Breaks apart easily

May stain dragons


{Alfalfa Pellets}


-/Pros:/

Aesthetically pleasing

Technically digestible

Dig-able

Cheap

Lower impaction risk

Biodegradable


-/Cons:/

Generally dusty

May mold with moisture

Holds moisture

Hard to clean due to moisture absorption

Not compact-able

High surface area for bacterial growth



{Excavator Sand}


-/Pros:/

Aesthetically pleasing

Dig-able (depending on how its used)

Compacted

Holds heat


-/Cons:/

Dusty

No easy way to sterilize it

False sense of a solid structure (VERY porous)-leading to bacterial growth



{Bioactive}


-/Pros:/

No cleaning required, really ever(not for lazy people)

Dig-able

Can be compacted

Natural looking aesthetics

Enriching to the animal

Allows more flexibility in temperature and humidity control

Good with live plants


-/Cons:/

Requires expert knowledge in bearded dragon general care

Requires desert ecological knowledge

Requires a tank and stand that can support the weight

Requires the owner to monitor the tank regularly

Requires the owner to lug heavy loads of substrates, woods, and insects

Requires very accurate measurement tools for humidity and temperature(given)

Requires a healthy dragon (preferably 0 parasites)

Requires extra money in case of money needed for a veterinarian

If not done right, the dragon may get sick, and in extreme cases, die.

(See my file under General Care on bdogroup.org)



[Solid Substrates (Pros and Cons)]


{ReptiCarpet (basically a felt type carpet) and Sandmats}


-/Pros:/

Absolutely zero impaction risk

Cheap and easily replaceable

Can be aesthetically pleasing


-/Cons:/

Hard to clean

Can get stained

Absorbent (allows bacterial growth and spread)

Generally requires twice weekly cleaning due to poop getting stuck

Gets frilly over time(only carpet)

Reports of toes losing circulation due to frills(only carpet)


{Newspaper}


-/Pros:/

Easily cleaned

Cheap (basically free)

Zero impaction risk

Technically edible/digestible


-/Cons:/

Not aesthetically pleasing

Can stain dragons (but safe ink)

Dragons can get under it quite easily


{Tile-Slate}


-/Pros:/

Zero impaction risk

Generally aesthetically pleasing

Doesn't allow dragon to dig underneath

Holds heat

Cheap

Has grip

Easy to clean


-/Cons:/

Heavy

Somewhat porous

Can sometimes be stained

Not always completely level and flat

Breaks easily with little force


{Tile-Ceramic and Shelf Liners}


-/Pros:/

Nonporous

Light

Cheap

Zero impaction risk

Generally aesthetically pleasing

Easy to clean


-/Cons:/

Usually very slippery, often uncomfortable for dragon

Doesn't hold heat as well


{Tile- Ceramic stick-on}


-/Pros:/

Easy to clean (see cons)

Nonporous

Light

Cheap

Zero impaction risk

Generally aesthetically pleasing


-/Cons:/

Slippery, generally not walk-able for dragon

Doesn't hold heat well

Reports of fumes coming off of the glue on the bottom under heat

Allow seams that can grow bacteria and are hard to clean





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