You can now download a Free PDF of this series by clicking here! The substrates available for reptiles today are basically broken down in four parts. Sandy, Carpet, Barks, and organic Potting Soil which is absent of perlite but that is for more advanced vivarium construction and will not be covered here. Rather than go through each individual one I am going to save you some reading and be extremely blunt. I will cover reptile substrates in depth at a later time in another post. First of all, bark type substrates are not conducive to the Bearded Dragon Pogona sp. as they come from a dry arid area and reptile bark holds too much moisture to replicate the arid environment that they are native to.
Cage carpets and Astroturf have also been made available or recommended by some persons within the industry. Cage Carpets eventually become fouled beyond the point of cleaning and they are not conducive to the emulating the natural environment of a Bearded Dragon Pogona sp. either as they cannot hold any heat as would other substrates. There is also the fact that with Astroturf the loops could and have previously caught toes, limbs, and in some cases necks of lizards and led to serious damage if not death.
Sandy soil types are the only types of substrate that you should be using with any species of Bearded Dragon Pogona sp. as this would more closely resemble their natural arid environment. I know what people say about impaction and I challenge that statement with the following question. Was your Bearded Dragon Pogona sp. given a proper diet dusted or supplemented with a quality calcium on a regular basis? Truth be told we would quickly discover that this was in fact not the case. Therefore the Bearded Dragon Pogona sp. began to try and supplement his diet with the nearest thing he could which is what they would do in the wild. They ingest small amounts of sand/soil to absorb the necessary calcium and vitamins that are missing.