Natural Reptile Bedding is an all-natural new terrarium substrate offered by Lugarti. The advertising on their website makes extraordinary claims about their “ideal” product:
- contains no coconut fiber, thereby saving trees and being more eco-friendly
- maintains humidity while the surface remains dry to the touch
- contains blueberry-derived mold inhibitors
- superior odor control
- promotes natural digging behaviors
- holds stable burrows
- grows live plants
- superior egg-laying substrate (but not to be used for incubation)
- can be safely used with newborn baby reptiles
The latter is a claim no other substrate on the market has dared make, due to the delicate nature of hatchlings. Lugarti endorses their bedding for use with bearded dragons, leopard geckos, crested geckos, gargoyle geckos, leachie geckos, tortoises, box turtles, monitor lizards, and uromastyx.
Instructions for use are as follows:
“Fill terrarium and pack down firmly to a depth of at least 3″ – 4” (8-10 cm), the deeper the better. Substrate should be at least 5″ – 6″ deep for burrowing species. As the substrate dries, simply remove any loose particles by gently running your hand over the top scraping the surface and discard. Substrate should be spot cleaned daily and completely replaced monthly (bi-monthly for babies).”
Lugarti was generous enough to give me a sample of their substrate to review, so this is ReptiFile’s first sponsored post!! That said, please know that this review is an objective analysis of the product, and the opinions expressed are entirely my own, without bias.
The Test Subjects
In order to test the Natural Reptile Bedding thoroughly, I used it with two reptile species:
- Ganon and Alphonse, juvenile and subadult crested geckos.
- Deliora, adult bearded dragon.
For the crested geckos, a 1″ layer was applied and compressed on the floor of a 10-gallon terrarium. Temperatures varied between 70°F and 80°F. Humidity fluctuated between 50-80%.
For the bearded dragon, a 3″ layer was applied and compressed on the floor of a 30-gallon terrarium (temporary housing arrangement). Temperatures varied between 75°F and 100°F. Humidity stayed between 20-30%.
The substrate was used until results could be gathered. In the crested geckos’ case, that period was 2 months. In the case of the bearded dragon, that period was 1 week.
Crested Gecko Results
Both crested geckos being arboreal and under 25g, I expected minimal interaction with the substrate. Humidity was the primary interest in this experiment. After two months, the crested geckos’ substrate:
- Maintained a pleasant earthy scent.
- Experienced no visible mold growth, but slight mildewy smell present (most likely from decor).
- Stabilized humidity between misting.
- Maintained its compressed shape.
- Experienced some crumbling, but substrate was rarely present in food dish.
- Did not expand in the presence of moisture.
Compared to paper towels, Natural Reptile Bedding was less troublesome to replace (after consistent wet/dry cycle, paper towel stuck to the floor), smelled better, and looked more natural.
Bearded Dragon Results
Deliora is a 475g ground-dweller with the grace of an elephant, so my primary interest in putting her on Natural Reptile Substrate was in testing Lugarti’s claims of durability. Results were visible within one week (really):
- Maintained a pleasant earthy scent, despite daily salad scattering and poo.
- Experienced no visible mold growth.
- Dust-free, although it did cling to Deliora’s scales.
- Lost its compressed shape—became more or less the equivalent of a loose substrate.
- Experienced significant crumbling. Substrate frequently present in food dish.
Compared to paper towels, Natural Reptile Bedding was more troublesome to replace and messier in general. However, it did help cover fecal odors, stayed dust-free in dry conditions, and looked nice while it lasted.
Natural Reptile Bedding passed the crested gecko test with flying colors. I especially loved the natural appearance and its humidity-supporting properties. And if some was ever ingested, I didn’t have to worry, thanks to fine particles and the fact that the substrate does not expand in the presence of moisture. Natural Reptile Bedding will be my go-to substrate for crested geckos and other small, tropical arboreal lizards.
Natural Reptile Bedding did not pass the bearded dragon test. While the smell is pleasant and I love the lack of dust, a 475g lizard’s claws disqualify this substrate as being perfectly “solid” in its compressed state. Perhaps it maintains its integrity better with baby bearded dragons, but that would require a separate test.
Natural Reptile Bedding seems most suited to tropical species with either a preference for semiloose bedding or arboreal natures.
- crested geckos
- gargoyle geckos
- leachie geckos
- day geckos
- mourning geckos
- blue tongue skinks
- monitor lizards
For the abovementioned reasons, I do not recommend this as an optimal substrate for bearded dragons.
Although well suited to the needs of monitors, blue tongue skinks, and other tropical reptiles requiring 6 sq ft or more, Natural Reptile Bedding may not be the most practical choice for some reptile keepers due to cost. Each bag of substrate costs $13, which can adequately cover about 2-2.5 sq ft. For a 40 gallon breeder terrarium, about 2.5-3 bags would be needed. Lugarti recommends replacing substrate monthly, making Natural Reptile Bedding a costly monthly expenditure of at least $39.