What Reptile Substrate is Best for My Terrarium?

There are many types of reptile substrates out there. But what reptile substrate is best for your reptile or amphibian? Here are 10 of the best terrarium uses for substrates.

1. Most Economical

newsprint reptile substrate

Newsprint. If you are tight on cash and need a quick terrarium substrate, newsprint can make a cheap, effective substrate. It also makes a great choice for sick or injured reptiles. Downside: Newsprint needs to be replaced often, and doesn't look very natural.

2. Best for Humid Terrariums

soil reptile substrate

Soil. Soil absorbs moisture well, and there is little risk of impaction if digested. Soil encourages natural burrowing behaviours, and can't get any more natural. Downside: Replace it often to avoid mould or bacterial growth.

3. Best for Desert Terrariums

sand reptile substrate

Sand, such as Exo Terra Desert Sand. A natural choice for desert and beach terrariums, sand conducts heat well. Don't bother paying extra for calcium sand, as your reptile shouldn't be ingesting the sand, anyway. Downside: Sand can have an impaction risk, especially for smaller reptiles. Feed in a separate container or choose a different substrate for your juvenile.

4. Best for Decorating

terrarium rocks reptile substrate

Stones. Stones make a welcome addtiion to almost any terrarium. Great conductors of heat, large rocks make perfect basking areas. Make sure stones from outside are sterilized (baked or boiled) before using in your terrarium.

5. Best for Egg-Laying

Arcillite, such as Repashy SuperHatch. While not recommended as a substrate on its own, arcillite is almost unparalleled as an incubation medium. Super-absorbent, arcillite also changes colour when dry.

6. Best for Juveniles

Liner/Carpet. Liner or carpet, such as Zilla Terrarium Liner, is easy to clean and has almost no impaction-risk, which makes it a fantastic choice for young reptiles and amphibians.

7. Easiest to Clean

terrarium liner reptile substrate

Liner/Carpet. Reptile carpet also tops our list for being the easiest substrate to clean. It rarely needs to be replaced, so liner also makes a very economical choice. Downside: Liner isn't the most natural-looking bedding for your terrarium.

8. Best for Travel

recycled paper reptile substrate

Newsprint/Paper-Based. If you need to transport your reptile or amphibian, use newsprint, paper towel, or a paper-based substrate such as Carefresh Pet Bedding. Newsprint is easy to replace, and is not messy for transport.

9. Best to Add Humidity

moss reptile substrate

Moss. Moss, such as Exo Terra Forest Moss, can add a lot of moisture to your terrarium. What's more, it looks natural in humid terrariums. Your reptile or amphibian will appreciate the cover.

10. Best All-Around

Soil Reptile Substrate

Soil. A good all-around choice for most terrariums, soil is low impaction, holds moisture well, and can be used wet or dry. Planting real plants in your terrarium? Soil has naturally occurring nutrients.