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“Substrate” is another word for bedding, and tegus are burrowing lizards, which means that they like to have a lot of it! 12-24” (30-60 cm) of it, in fact — or at least on one side of the enclosure. Tegus with regular opportunities to burrow tend to be more physically fit, demonstrate more natural behaviors, and keep claws filed down without human interference.
- DIY naturalistic mix – Roughly 40% organic topsoil, 40% Zoo Med ReptiSoil, and 20% play sand. Layer with leaf litter for best results. Holds humidity and burrows very well when kept moistened.
- Reptichip — Mulched coconut shell. Holds humidity well, less dusty than coconut fiber.
- Cypress mulch (not blend) —Holds humidity well, especially when layered on top of soil/sand mix.
- Eucalyptus mulch — Holds humidity well, but don’t use if you plan to use live plants in your enclosure. More popular outside of the US.
Whatever you choose, substrate should be replaced at least quarterly and spot cleaned as needed.
Avoid these substrates:
- Potting soil — Full of fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides, and other chemicals that are harmful to reptiles.
- Sand — Dry and dusty.
- Aspen shavings — Doesn’t hold humidity well and molds easily.
- Pine/fir bark or shavings — Contains oils that cause neurological damage and even death in reptiles.
Keep reading about tegu care:
- Introduction to Tegus
- Shopping List
- List of Tegu Species
- Terrarium Sizing for Hatchlings, Juveniles & Adults
- Temperature & Humidity Requirements
- Substrate Options
- Decorating Your Tegu’s Enclosure
- Feeding Your Tegu
- Handling Tips
- Benefits of Free-Roaming
- Common Problems & Questions About Tegu Health
- Additional Resources