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“Substrate” is another word for bedding. Blue tongue skinks often like to dig, so they require 4-6 inches of deep, soft, loose substrate. But which kind of substrate you need depends on your type of skink.
- Lugarti Natural Reptile Bedding
- Semi-arid DIY mix: 60% organic topsoil + 40% play sand
- The BioDude Terra Firma bioactive kit
- Coconut fiber (Eco Earth / Plantation Soil)
- Sphagnum moss
- Humid DIY mix: 40% organic topsoil + 40% Zoo Med ReptiSoil + 20% play sand
- The Bio Dude Terra Fauna bioactive kit (x2)
Do not use:
- Pine/fir/cedar wood products
- Carefresh rodent bedding
ReptiFiles doesn’t recommend using these products because they are either inadequate for meeting blue tongue skinks’ humidity needs or pose a significant health risk.
What’s bioactive substrate?
Bioactive substrate can be used for both Australian and Indonesian type skinks, although I highly recommend it for keeping Indonesian species, as it helps A LOT with maintaining humidity.
While traditional housing depends on the keeper for maintenance, bioactive setups are more or less self-sustaining, miniature ecosystems. So a bioactive substrate needs more than just one or two components; it has layers. For example, a humid bioactive substrate might include untreated topsoil, cypress mulch, leaf litter, and moss over a drainage layer of gravel.
What makes this work is the “cleanup crew,” or bugs. They clean up uneaten food, fallen leaves, and fecal remains, making bioactive substrates incredibly low maintenance. All you need to do is wipe off the glass and remove large pieces of waste. Also, skinks **really** enjoy digging up the bugs and snacking on them, so they make excellent mental stimulation as well.
Springtails and isopods (wood lice) make a good starter cleanup crew. For a quick and easy way to set up a bioactive substrate for your blue tongue skink, check out The Bio Dude:
Bioactive can be expensive to set up at first, but I promise you’ll save a lot of money over the long-term.