Setting up the perfect habitat for your pet snake requires a lot of thought. One thing you need to consider is what kind of bedding you want to use. Bedding, more commonly known as substrates, makes your serpent’s floor feel comfier. It also gives them somewhere to keep out of sight in addition to their hide boxes. In fact, some species, like Kenyan Sand Boas, must have sand to burrow in or they will become extremely stressed.
Substrates also absorb excess fluid, whether it’s spilled water from your pet’s dish or from their waste. (Interesting fact: Snakes don’t urinate like most other animals. The ammonia that they produce as waste usually comes out solid along with their feces. But sometimes it can contain a lot of liquid.) Cleaning snake waste from a bare enclosure floor would be difficult and messy. But it’s easy to pick up the soiled portion of the substrate and throw it away.
Finally, substrates are a great way to slowly and deliberately release moisture into your snake’s habitat. Simply pour the appropriate amount of water into an area where your snake doesn’t tend to hang out. The substrate will absorb the liquid, which will gradually evaporate, increasing the humidity to the desired level.
Our experts researched, ranked, and reviewed the best bedding for snakes so you can select the one that’s right for your pet.
A-Z-Animals Top Picks for Bedding for Snakes
#1 Best Overall Snake Bedding: Zoo Med Eco Earth
Our choice for the best overall bedding for snakes is Zoo Med Eco Earth. This substrate is made from compressed coconut fiber from coconut husks. Because it literally grows on trees, it’s eco-friendly and renewable. You can safely compost used Zoo Med Eco Earth or recycle it in your garden or potted plants.
This bedding is available loose and in compressed bricks. Each highly compressed brick will expand to make seven to eight liters of substrate. For desert species, use it dry. If you keep tropical snakes, you can use it damp. Whether it’s damp or dry, it will break down and absorb odor and waste in your slithery friend’s habitat.
Zoo Med has been producing cutting-edge products for reptiles for 43 years. The company manufactures more than 50% of its 1,200 products at its headquarters in San Luis Obispo, California, and 25% of the remaining products in Europe. They also have an extensive reptile breeding program that includes many species that are endangered or difficult to breed. In fact, since 2009, they have hatched more than 1,500 babies from 47 species!
available loose and in compressed bricks
2. Best Sand Substrate: Zoo Med ReptiSand
If you have a desert or burrowing species like a Western hognose, you’ll want to use sand in your serpentarium. Zoo Med ReptiSand is a very fine, quartz desert sand that contains no added dyes or chemicals. It’s available in three natural colors: Natural Red, Desert White, and Midnight Black. One is sure to enhance the look of your snake vivarium and highlight your snake’s colors and beauty.
Sand for reptiles is drier and smoother than other types, such as construction or aquarium sand. This makes it more comfortable for your pet to burrow in. It’s heavy by nature, and the weight of deep reptile sand will make your snake feel secure. Also, our reptile experts say that it’s easier to clean and remove from habitats than soil.
Since 2009, Zoo Med has contributed over $300,000 to the United States Association of Reptile Keepers (USARK). USARK is a non-profit that advocates for responsible reptile and amphibian ownership and trade by fighting anti-herpetological legislation and regulation.
Best Sand Substrate
3. Best Aspen Bedding: Small Pet Select Jumbo Aspen Bedding
Pine and cedar shavings are dangerous to snakes because they contain deadly aromatic compounds called phenols. Aspen, on the other hand, is completely free from phenols. That’s just one of the reasons that aspen bedding is so popular among snake keepers. Aspen shavings are also virtually dust-free. And they’re extremely absorbent, so they’re great at soaking up spilled water and waste.
Small Pet Select Jumbo Aspen Bedding is soft and fluffy, which we’re sure your snake will appreciate. Unlike some other companies, it’s shaved off of logs instead of being reconstituted from paper mill sludge. Then it’s kiln-dried. It doesn’t contain any additives, dyes, toxins, or anything else that could irritate your beloved pet. Plus, this eco-friendly bedding is recyclable and compostable.
Small Pet Select is a small, family-owned business that was established in 2012. They believe so strongly in the quality of their products that they offer a no-hassle, no-questions 100% satisfaction guarantee.
Best Aspen Wood Shavings Bedding
4. Best Fir Bark Bedding: Exo Terra Forest Bark Natural Fir Reptile Substrate
Unlike cedar and pine trees, Douglas fir doesn’t contain toxic aromatic oils. It makes the perfect substrate for snakes that prefer tropical and forest environments. That’s because fir bark has hygroscopic properties. This means that it can control the humidity level in your snake’s microclimate by absorbing and slowly releasing moisture.
Exo Terra Forest Bark Natural Fir Reptile Substrate is made from 100% natural Douglas fir bark. It stimulates snakes’ natural burrowing and digging behaviors, which can make them feel safe and secure. The company tumbles the bark to smooth any jagged edges and remove dust. Then, it treats the bark with heat to eliminate bacteria.
Exo Terra is located in Montreal, Canada. It’s part of Hagan Pet Foods, which was founded in 1955. Exo Terra participates directly in several conservation efforts to protect reptiles, amphibians, and their habitats. These efforts also include captive breeding projects.
Best Fir Bark Bedding
Choosing the Best Snake Bedding: What to Look for
If you’re shopping for the best snake bedding, you need to take two main factors into consideration: your snake’s environmental requirements and price.
Your Snake’s Environmental Requirements
When it comes to bedding, it all boils down to creating the optimal environment for your snake. For example, sand-dwelling snakes and tropical species have very different housing requirements, humidity levels, and substrate needs. A Kenyan sand boa will only flourish if they have a sand substrate. A ball python, on the other hand, will thrive with aspen chips or similar bedding.
The cost of substrates varies widely by type. And some, like compressed coconut fiber, end up being far cheaper than the “per ounce” cost because it expands considerably. When it comes to substrates, the bottom line is that you should purchase the type that best meets your snake’s environmental needs. Even if it’s more expensive than other substrates, your pet will be happier and healthier thanks to your informed decision.
When you’re searching for the best snake substrate, first you need to understand the different types that exist. There’s compressed coconut husk fiber, sand, Aspen shavings, and Douglas fir bedding. Each has clear pros and cons. Be sure to select the one that’s most appropriate for your snake’s ideal living conditions.
Compressed Coconut Husk Fiber
|Good for most burrowing pet snakes||Because the pieces are rather large, you may wish to remove your pet from the cage during feeding so they don’t accidentally ingest it|
|Absorbs liquid and odors||Because it is a dark color, spot cleaning may be difficult|
|Because this product expands, the cost per ounce is low|
|Can be used damp|
|The optimal choice for desert snakes||Not a good choice for non-desert snakes|
|Easy to clean solid waste from the surface||Can irritate eyes and nasal passages of non-desert species and abrade their skin|
|Isn’t as absorbent as some other substrates|
|Absorbent||Will mold if it remains damp|
|Won’t irritate your pet’s respiratory system like pine or cedar|
|Light-colored, so it’s easy to see waste for spot cleaning|
|Absorbent||The product is dark-colored, so it’s difficult to see waste for spot cleaning|
|Encourages burrowing and digging|
|Has hygroscopic properties: absorbs and releases moisture to regulate the habitat humidity level|
|Can be used damp|
Verified Review: User Experience
The majority of negative reviews had to do with quality. There were a handful of complaints regarding dustiness for Zoo Med Eco Earth, Small Pet Select Jumbo Aspen, and Exo Terra Forest Bark. And one reviewer stated that they “found pieces of plastic and sticks inside of one of the compressed bricks” of Eco Earth.
The vast majority of the reviews were extremely positive, with comments like this one for Zoo Med Eco Earth: “This works well as bedding for snake enclosures. It allows me to use a natural product that holds in heat for the snakes to absorb while being able to clean up their messes easily.”
Another wrote the following review for Small Pet Select Jumbo Aspen, “With my snakes it allows them to burrow and do their tunneling while being easy to spot clean. Even when they tip over their water it’s easy to clean up with a paper towel and dry out the wet spot. The water doesn’t soak everything like happens with some substrates.”