When planning out a terrarium for a future pet, one of the most important pieces of that is choosing the correct bedding, or substrate. While this provides your pet with options for flooring, it does much more than just that. Bedding can help provide enrichment for species that like to burrow and is also important in helping control temperature and humidity. It can be used to create hills and ponds, or be used to plant a living rainforest. With all of the options out there, though, how do you decide which is right for your pet?! Let’s break down what makes each type of bedding unique, what the best applications are for, and which animals each is best for.
This natural bedding is made from the bark of Douglas Fir trees. Although in the same family as Pine and Cedar trees, which have toxic aromatic oils, Douglas Fir bark is safe for reptiles and amphibians. Bark provides a great substrate for tropical to semi-arid environments. The size of the Zilla Bark Blend allows animals to easily walk on it but also makes it easy to spit out if accidentally eaten when hunting for food. Zilla’s bark substrate is unique from other bark substrates because it’s heat treated. By heat treating the bark before packaging it, potential bacteria and invertebrate pests are killed. This also evaporates off any oils that could stain your animal and dries the bedding out to keep moisture and bacteria from building up during transportation. A great characteristic of Bark Blend is its ability to absorb moisture and slowly release it. This is a great help when your pet is starting its shed cycle. Spray the bedding heavily after the lights turn off and the bark will absorb the moisture and release it when the lights turn on the next day.
One of the best substrates available for your pet reptile or amphibian is Zilla’s Jungle Mix. This natural dirt substrate is made from Sphagnum Peat Moss AND Douglas Fir shavings. This combination of natural materials allows for incredible moisture retention, drainage, and aeration. This makes it a perfect option for tropical animals and especially live planted vivariums.The soft feel of Jungle Mix is safe on the skin of even the most sensitive amphibians, while still being strong enough to maintain the burrows of snakes, skinks, and other lizards. Make sure to keep the Jungle Mix moist as it can get dusty when it’s dry, but make sure it’s not so wet there is stagnant water. You shouldn’t be able to squeeze any water out of it, but it should pack when squeezed. Pair this with Zilla Terrarium Moss to help maintain higher, more tropical humidity.
Perfect for: Crested Geckos, Tree Frogs, Dart Frogs, Day Geckos, Tropical Skinks, Anoles, Tropical Snakes, and other humid rainforest species.
The use of sand in habitats for reptiles is highly debated. There are a lot of enrichment and husbandry benefits to sand but the risk of impaction to your animal is one most people would rather avoid. A great alternative is Zilla Desert Blend. Desert Blend is made of finely crushed English Walnut shells. This material has similar properties to sand in how it moves, it’s non-absorbency, and even its texture. One major difference is it won’t pack together in your pet’s stomach if eaten and lead to health issues. This makes Desert Blend an awesome substrate for desert dwelling species that would live in a dry habitat. Most desert species will still need access to higher humidity for shedding and breeding, so provide a humid hide such as the Zilla Rock Lairs and be sure to keep a clean and filled water bowl available in the habitat.
Perfect for: Bearded Dragons, Uromastyx, Desert Invertebrates, Sand Boas, Sandfish Skinks, Red Headed Agamas, and other dry desert species.
Snake and Lizard Litter
For arid species that still need a bit of humidity the perfect solution is Zilla Snake & Lizard Litter. This all natural laboratory grade bedding is made from Aspen chips. This bedding is hypo-allergenic and contains no harmful oils that could impact the health of your pet. By only using laboratory grade materials, this bedding is nearly dust free and has been heat-treated to kill any harmful bacteria or invertebrate pests. Aspen is a naturally absorbent material, which allows it to soak up animal waste and the small chip size makes spot cleaning easy and quick. Be careful of stagnant moisture in this bedding as it can cause mold growth if it can’t dry out. The chip shape also helps keep the bedding from packing down, which allows many burrowing species to easily dig around in it for enrichment.
Perfect for: Ball Pythons, Corn Snakes, Milk Snakes, King Snakes, Sand Boas, and many other arid species. This bedding is mostly used for snakes because it can stick to the moisture around many lizards and tortoises’ eyes.
Coconut Husk Brick
This brick has a lot or material packed into a small package. One brick of Zilla Coconut Husk expands to cover four square feet of terrarium! That’s enough to cover an entire 55 gallon enclosure. Made from 100% organic coconut fiber, this bedding holds an incredible volume of moisture and creates a humid tropical environment for your pet. This also works as an amazing material to use in your egg lay box or humid hide. Easy to use, compact, and convenient, Coconut Husk is a perfect substrate for your highly tropical pet. Make sure it doesn’t dry out as it can become very dusty.
While they won’t give you a natural habitat look and feel, Zilla’s Terrarium Liners make an amazing and easy option for reptile keepers. Baby lizards prone to ingesting substrate do well starting out on a terrarium liner. The brown or green carpet cut to fit your terrarium is absorbent, non-abrasive, can’t be ingested, and is treated with a biodegradable enzyme that reduces odors. Cleaning is a breeze and only takes a good rinse with cold tap water. We suggest having two or more to rotate so you always have a clean one on hand. On top of that, the material is recyclable so if you dispose of an old one, make sure not to just toss it in the waste bin.