Choosing a best substrate for blue tongue skinks has a huge effect on its mental health, physical health, and as well as its well-being. But, when you have dozens of substrate options literally, which type of substrate do you think is the best for your little reptile?
Why would you need a substrate in the first place? As you know, skinks are the type of lizards that burrows, therefore, they require at least a 4 to 6 inch deep, soft and loose substrate for their comfort. So in this article, we will provide you the list of best substrates for your little bluey.
- Top Best Substrate for Blue Tongue Skinks
- What Substrates Should I Avoid?
Top Best Substrate for Blue Tongue Skinks
Here is a list of the best beddings available in the market that you can choose from. Choose the one that you think is the most suitable for your lizard’s terrarium.
1. Zoo Med Forest Floor Substrate
Cypress mulch is one of the best substrates or beddings that you can use for the most type of reptiles, including blue tongue skinks. The Zoo Med cypress mulch can be used by itself, or you can also mix it with other kinds of substrates, such as coco husk, sphagnum moss, or coco fiber.
Whether you use a mixed or a non-mixed cypress mulch, it would be good for your little bluey. The advantage of this kind of substrate is that it retains moisture and humidity well, soft enough to burrow, can be used with a mist, and inexpensive. However, it quickly molds when your pet drops some food in it, so you’ll have to always clean your pet’s terrarium.
2. Zoo Med Sphagnum Moss
This type of moss can be found in places in mild, temperate climates, such as North America, New Zealand, and Ireland. With the help of sunlight, this type of moss grows plenty on topsoils. So why use a sphagnum moss for your skink?
There are quite a few things why it is one of the best bedding of reptiles, especially for your blue tongue skink. It is highly mold resistant, it retains great humidity, and it looks very native on your pet’s enclosure, which would make your pet more comfortable in its own terrarium.
3. Reptile Prime Coconut Fiber Substrate
Coconut fiber beddings is another great choice for blue tongue skinks, especially for the Indonesian species, it also works pretty well when mixed-in with cypress mulch or topsoil. The great thing about using a coconut type of bedding is that it can retain humidity well and can be used as dry or damp.
Also, it can naturally absorb your pet’s waste products and can help break down the odor, which is very helpful as it would always keep your bluey’s terrarium smelling fresh and clean. It would also provide a naturalistic look on your pet’s enclosure, which can give a “native” feel to it.
4. Zoo Med Repti Bark Bedding
This is a multi-purpose type of bedding where you can use it can use it for your pet’s terrarium, as a potting soil, or even reuse it as a potting soil after being used on your pet’s enclosure. This is actually a good thing especially when you have plants around your house.
You can use this product as it is or mix it with sphagnum moss, cypress mulch, or topsoil to increase its humidity retention. It also has a nice look in terrariums, which is in a contrast to something like the coco fiber or sphagnum moss substrate. However, some fir bark bedding products use pine trees instead of fir trees, so make sure to check the bedding’s label before making a purchase. Pine trees are not good for your lizard’s overall health.
5. Kaytee Aspen Substrate
For the Northern and Eastern species of blue tongue skinks, using an aspen wood shaving is one of the most popular types of bedding for them. Aspen is a type of tree that usually grows on areas with colder climates, it is firm, but soft enough to burrow, and doesn’t contain any kinds of aroma which is great for your pet’s health.
Here are other reasons why it is great for skinks, it is light and soft where your pet can easily hide and burrow to, it can be safely ingested in small amounts by your skink without causing health conditions, it does a great job in retaining humidity, and looks very nice in the enclosure.
6. T-Rex Sani-Chips Substrate
Basically, this type of chip bedding is quite similar to aspen wood beddings. However, Sani-chips are much smaller than the usual aspen shavings. As the regular aspen bedding, sani-chips also work pretty well in absorbing moisture and keeping a stable humidity level.
Also, since they are much smaller compared to the regular aspen shavings, they won’t get lodged or stuck anywhere in your lizard’s nose, mouth, or eyelids. They are also very pliable and soft enough for your pet to easily move around and burrow into it. The only downside of this substrate is that it molds easily when wet, so you’ll have to change it out once it got too wet from absorbing moisture.
7. Exo Terra Coco Husk Substrate
If you are wondering what the difference is between the coconut husk and fiber substrates is, coconut husk beddings are a bit bigger and blockier than coconut fiber substrates. Therefore, if you want a much finer particle substrate then choose the fiber, if not then you can consider getting this product.
As for their benefits, both types of substrates works pretty well in retaining humidity, absorbing moisture, eliminating odor, and provides a naturalistic environment inside the terrarium. Also, it may be a bit bulkier than the fiber one, but it is still soft enough to be burrowed by your bluey.
8. Zilla Bark Blend
Here is another bark substrate that you can choose from. Aside from Exo Terra and Zoo Med brands, Zilla also provides a good quality of fir bark substrate for all kinds of reptiles.
This substrate is made from 100% organic bark without being mixed with dyes. Also, this is heat treated to absorb moisture efficiently which conveniently helps in maintaining the terrarium’s humidity level. It is also eliminated from unwanted pests, so expect this product to be free from critters.
9. Zilla Aspen Substrate
Here is another option for aspen wood shaving beddings. This product is prepared in aspen chips and not finely ground. However, its chip sized aspen particles are not too big to prevent your pet skink from burrowing into it. And since the substrate is heat treated, expect it to have an ultra absorbent feature.
Aside from that, it’s also excellent in maintaining the terrarium’s humidity levels. It is also hypo-allergenic, meaning it doesn’t contain any kinds of harmful chemicals that can affect your lizard’s health.
10. Zoo Med Loose Coconut Fiber Substrate
This loose coconut fiber substrate is 100% made from the husks of coconuts, which can be safely reused or recycled onto your potted plants. In fact, all coconut substrates, no matter what brand it is, can be recycled on plants for convenience.
If you are aiming for a naturalistic terrarium set up for your pet, then this product can also provide it for you and your pet. This is also an ideal substrate for amphibians, reptiles, and invertebrates. Another thing, you can also use as dry or damp, depending on your pet’s needs.
What Substrates Should I Avoid?
And those are the best substrates that you can use for your beloved blue tongue skink. Also, if there are the best substrates for them, there would also be substrates that can harm them, these includes:
If you want to use alfalfa pellets for your skink, you should always handle it with care. This type of substrate can be too heavy and dense for your reptile to burrow in. They also break down easily when wet, so it is not really a good option of the substrate for blue tongue skinks.
There are carpets sold in the market that are specifically made for reptiles. But since the skinks are burrowing lizards, using a carpet or lining as their substrate is not a good idea. In addition, your pet’s claws may stick to it which can get damaged.
Walnut Litter and Corn Cobs
These are indigestible and can cause an impaction to your lizard when ingested accidentally.
The product may claim that it is safe for your reptiles to digest, but continually digesting this digestible sand can cause hypercalcemia, muscle weakness, kidney and renal failure, and more.
Due to its clumping factor, it may cause an impaction risk on your pet skink.
Some reptile owners out there use cat litter as their reptile’s alternate sand substrate. It may good for some reptiles but not for the skinks. It can also be dehydrating, toxic, dusty, and can cause impaction risks.
This can cause a great risk to your pet, especially when it accidentally ingest a small rock.
And there you have it, aside from the list of best substrates for your blue tongue skink, we have also provided you with a list of substrates that you should AVOID for the sake of your lizard’s health. We hope that this article has helped you out in choosing the right substrate for your skink because like most reptile owners out there, you would also like to provide the best equipment for your little bluey.