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10 Best Snake Substrate Bedding Options of 2023 – Reviews & Top Picks

saw dust for snake bedding_Left Handed Photography_shutterstockSnakes are diverse creatures, ranging from tropical reptiles that love the humidity to desert dwellers that prefer it dry. They require a substrate that will absorb the odors of their waste but won’t be ingested accidentally or stick to their face, body, eyes, or mouth.

There are plenty of substrates you could use for your snake’s bedding, but testing them all can be risky. You never know what you might get along with your substrate. For instance, we’ve even seen mites infesting some of the reptile beddings we’ve ordered, which you definitely don’t want to introduce to your snake.

Luckily, we’ve already tried and tested many of the most popular snake substrates on the market on a quest to find the best. Of course, we don’t want to keep that information all to ourselves, which is why the following 10 reviews will share everything we learned while searching for the ultimate snake bedding.

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A Quick Comparison of Our Favorites in 2023

Image Product Details
Best Overall
Zoo Med Forest Floor Reptile Bedding – Best Overall Zoo Med Forest Floor Reptile Bedding – Best Overall
  • 100% natural cypress mulch
  • Looks like a natural forest floor
  • Retains moisture
  • Best Value
    Second place
    Zilla Aspen Chip Reptile Bedding – Best Value Zilla Aspen Chip Reptile Bedding – Best Value
  • 100% natural
  • Ultra-absorbent
  • Eucalyptus scent
  • Premium Choice
    Third place
    Zoo Med Premium Repti Bark Reptile Bedding – Premium Choice Zoo Med Premium Repti Bark Reptile Bedding – Premium Choice
  • Made from fir tree bark
  • Absorbs and releases moisture
  • Washable and reusable
  • Zoo Med Aspen Snake Bedding Zoo Med Aspen Snake Bedding
  • 9% dust-free
  • Free from toxic oils
  • Priced affordably
  • ReptiChip Premium Coconut Reptile Bedding ReptiChip Premium Coconut Reptile Bedding
  • 100% organic
  • Sustainable
  • Made from coconut chips
  • The 10 Best Snake Beddings

    1. Zoo Med Forest Floor Reptile Bedding – Best Overall

    Zoo Med Forest Floor Reptile Bedding – Best Overall

    Made from 100% natural cypress mulch, the Zoo Med forest floor reptile bedding will give the floor of your terrarium the appearance of a natural forest floor, making most tropical snakes feel right at home.

    Many snakes, particularly tropical species, have rather strict humidity requirements. It can be difficult to keep the cage at the proper humidity, but this cypress mulch bedding retains moisture, keeping your snake’s environment humid and healthy for them. Simply moisten the bedding whenever the humidity dips too low. Your substrate will continue to release the moisture, humidifying the enclosure.

    On the other hand, desert-dwelling snakes and non-tropical species will require this bedding to dry out before using it in their habitat. Because it retains moisture so well, it will take a few days of drying before it’s ideal for these snakes. However, once dry, it will do the opposite, sucking the moisture out of any terrarium, which is perfect for desert snakes.

    • Made from 100% natural cypress mulch
    • Looks like a natural forest floor
    • Retains moisture to keep the tank humid
    • Can also be used to keep the tank dry for desert species
    • Takes several days to dry out

    2. Zilla Aspen Chip Reptile Bedding – Best Value

    Zilla Aspen Chip Reptile Bedding – Best Value

    With just two main ingredients, aspen and eucalyptus chips, this aspen chip reptile bedding from Zilla is 100% natural. It’s even suitable for composting when you remove it from your snake’s cage at the end of its usable lifespan. There are also no additional resins or oils added, ensuring that it’s completely safe for all snakes and reptiles.

    In this blend, the eucalyptus chips provide a fresh, natural scent that’s very effective at combating foul odors. The aspen chips are highly absorbent, keeping the environment dry, making it perfect for desert dwellers. Alternatively, if you mist it with water, it will retain the moisture, helping to keep your snake’s enclosure humid for tropical species.

    While this bedding is good for burrowing, it won’t retain its shape once burrowed. Some snakes prefer it this way, others prefer for their burrows to hold once dug. Either way, this is a very affordable snake substrate that works for a variety of situations, which is why we think it’s the best snake bedding for the money.

    • 100% natural and suitable for composting
    • Ultra-absorbent to keep the environment dry
    • Eucalyptus scent is fresh and natural
    • Made from pure Aspen and eucalyptus chips
    • Doesn’t hold shape for burrowing

    3. Zoo Med Premium Repti Bark Reptile Bedding – Premium Choice

    Zoo Med Premium Repti Bark Reptile Bedding – Premium Choice

    Zoo Med is known for making many reptile-specific products, including the premium repti-bark reptile bedding. This one is crafted purely from 100% fir tree bark. Like other great snake substrates, it’s highly absorbent. This means that you can use it to keep an aquarium dry for a desert species, or you can mist it down to help keep the terrarium humid. Since it’s not heat-treated, it provides excellent moisture retention.

    One great thing about this bedding compared to others is that it’s washable and can be reused. Every two months or so, you can simply soak the substrate in hot water to wash it. This helps save you money in the long run since you won’t need to constantly replace your substrate, just wash it and reuse it.

    This bedding is ideal for tropical snakes. It’s a great replication of their natural habitat, and it helps with shedding. It’s also great for burrowing and digging species, as it’s the right size and consistency for easy burrowing but will hold its shape to some degree once dug out.

    • Made from fir tree bark
    • Absorbs and releases moisture to keep the terrarium from getting dry
    • Washable and reusable
    • Perfect for tropical snakes
    • The red color can stain

    4. Zoo Med Aspen Snake Bedding

    Zoo Med Aspen Snake Bedding

    Zoo Med is one of the most prominent manufacturers of snake and reptile products, so it’s not surprising to find so many of their beddings on this list. This aspen snake bedding is natural and made from a renewable source. Moreover, it’s 99.9% dust-free, making it safe for your snake’s respiratory system.

    That’s not all. This product is also odorless and free from toxic oils that you’ll find in many other wood shavings, such as cedar, for instance. According to Zoo Med, this is the number one snake bedding preferred by herpetologists.

    Many snake beddings are designed to hold moisture so they can aid in keeping an enclosure humid. But we noticed that this bedding tends to mold when it’s left wet, which is why it didn’t make it into our top three. Still, it’s priced very affordably compared to other beddings, and it’s a particularly good choice for snake species that don’t require a humid enclosure.

    • 9% dust-free
    • Free from toxic oils
    • Priced affordably
    • Excellent for burrowing
    • Tends to mold when it gets wet

    5. ReptiChip Premium Coconut Reptile Bedding

    ReptiChip Premium Coconut Reptile Bedding

    There was plenty that we liked about the ReptiChip premium coconut reptile bedding, but there were several key flaws with it that will keep it from earning our recommendation. We did like the large volume it’s available in, meaning you won’t have to repurchase it all the time. It’s also more affordable because of the large size. Even better, you get a money-back guarantee, ensuring your satisfaction with the product.

    Like other reptile beddings we tested, this one is 100% organic and sustainable. It’s made entirely from coconut chips, so it’s completely safe for snakes. It’s also extremely absorptive, allowing it to not only soak up your snake’s waste but to help maintain humidity within the enclosure as well.

    But there were two major drawbacks that we noticed with this bedding. First, it has far more dust than other substrates we tested, which is not great for your snake’s respiratory system, or yours for that matter. Worse, we found several foreign objects within the substrate, including plastic pieces, cloth fibers, and parts of other plants.

    • 100% organic and sustainable
    • The money-back guarantee ensures your satisfaction
    • Made from coconut chips
    • Helps to maintain humidity
    • Noticeable dust
    • There are foreign objects in the mix

    6. Reptile Prime Coconut Fiber Bedding

    Reptile Prime Coconut Fiber Bedding

    The Reptile Prime coconut fiber bedding works equally well with tropical and desert-dwelling snake species. If you use it dry, it will help to remove the moisture from the air in your snake’s terrarium, keeping the humidity level low. But if you wet the substrate, it will retain the moisture, helping to maintain the humidity level in the enclosure.

    We liked how effective this product is at absorbing odor and breaking down waste. It lasts longer than other substrates because it’s so effective at eliminating the foul odors associated with snake waste. It’s also completely natural and organic, so it’s safe for your snake as well as the environment when you have to throw it away.

    But we didn’t like the way this bedding tends to coat our snakes’ mouths. It gets stuck around the opening of their mouth, caking on, which is clearly unpleasant for our snakes. We also noticed that after a few days of being wet, this substrate starts to smell pretty strongly of mildew, and we don’t like the idea of introducing mildew or mold to our snakes’ habitats.

    • Can be used dry or damp
    • Excellent humidity retention
    • Absorbs odor and breaks down waste
    • Coats a snake’s mouth
    • Strong smell of mildew

    7. Fluker Labs 36005 Repta-Bark All Natural Bedding 

    Fluker Labs 36005 Repta-Bark All Natural Bedding

    We’ve seen snake beddings made from a wide range of materials, such as the Repta-Bark all-natural bedding from Fluker Labs, which is made from 100% natural orchid bark. This material is great for tropical snake species that require high-humidity environments to be healthy. It’s extremely absorptive, designed to absorb excess moisture and maintain the humidity in your snake’s terrarium.

    But this product isn’t such a great fit for desert-dwelling species that need a drier enclosure. A major reason for this is the high amount of dust this bedding releases. When it’s damp, you don’t get the same problem. But when dry, this is a very dusty bedding that could potentially cause some respiratory problems for your snake.

    Compared to other substrates we’ve used, this orchid bark is very effective at eliminating odors. But we don’t like the consistency of it. If you rub your hand across the surface of this substrate in your snake’s enclosure, you’ll likely pull away with a hand full of splinters. Of course, your snake’s skin is much tougher than your own, but we still don’t like the idea of our snakes slithering across splinter-infested substrates.

    • Made from 100% natural orchid bark
    • Great for high-humidity tanks
    • Good at neutralizing odors
    • Not great for desert-dwelling snake species
    • Very dusty formula
    • Leaves splinters in your hands

    8. Exo Terra Coco Husk Brick Bedding

    Exo Terra Coco Husk Brick Bedding

    The Exo Terra coco husk brick bedding is one of the most affordable bedding options for snakes that we’ve seen. It’s crafted from compressed coconut husk, which is naturally resistant to fungi and bacteria, helping to keep your snake safe from infection. This blend is great for keeping your snake’s enclosure humid, but can also be used to maintain a dry living area for desert-dwelling species.

    Unfortunately, this substrate is only available in very small volumes, so you’ll have to purchase several to fill a sizable aquarium. Worse, it comes with very large chunks of coconut husk that don’t make the best substrate. We prefer the smaller pieces that come in other blends we tried.

    For snakes that burrow, this is also a poor choice of bedding. It doesn’t hold the shape of their burrows at all, instead, collapsing around them. The large chunks also impede your snake’s ability to burrow, so we can’t recommend this bedding for most snake terrariums.

    • Dirt-cheap pricing
    • Crafted from compressed coconut husk
    • Naturally resistant to fungi and bacteria
    • Not available in large volumes
    • Large chunks make a poor substrate
    • Doesn’t hold shape for burrowing snakes

    9. Critters Comfort Coconut Reptile Bedding

    Critters Comfort Coconut Reptile Bedding

    At first glance, we expected good things from the Critters Comfort coconut reptile bedding. It’s made from 100% organic coconut coir, so it’s completely natural, free of chemicals and fragrances, and non-toxic. Moreover, it’s dust-free, which makes it healthier for your snake’s respiratory system. Plus, we found that it offers excellent odor control, eliminating and absorbing foul odors for a fresh tank.

    But there was just as much that we disliked about this bedding. First, it tends to end up in our snakes’ mouths, sticking to the moisture around their mouths, becoming clearly annoying for our poor pets. We also noticed that the bag didn’t contain quite as much substrate as it was supposed to.

    There was one problem that stood out above the rest, though. The bag we got contained many mites. We didn’t notice at first, until a few days later when we noticed them on our snake. We then had to completely clean the enclosure and change all the bedding out, making sure not to let the mites contaminate anything. After researching, we found that this is a semi-common issue with this bedding that will prevent us from being able to recommend it.

    • Excellent odor control
    • Free from dust, chemicals, and fragrances
    • Gets in snakes’ mouths
    • You don’t get as much as advertised
    • Many bags contain mites

    10. Carib Sea SCS00211 Coco Soft Reptiles Bedding

    Carib Sea SCS00211 Coco Soft Reptiles Bedding

    The coco soft reptile bedding from Carib Sea is non-toxic with no aromatic oils, no chemicals, and no pesticides. Just as importantly, it’s free from parasites, which we’ve unfortunately experienced with other reptile beddings. This blend is made from coarse chips of coconut husk that have no sharp edges.

    One thing we noticed about this substrate is that it’s too easily ingested. Our snakes tended to end up accidentally swallowing it when it would stick to their mouths after getting water. It’s non-toxic if ingested but can still cause obstructions that are harmful to your snake.

    Compared to other beddings we’ve tried, this one creates an incredible amount of dust. When you dump the bag into an aquarium, you’ll see a cloud of that dust billow out. Dust isn’t good for your snake to ingest and can cause respiratory issues that you’d certainly prefer to avoid.

    • Non-toxic
    • Free from pesticides and parasites
    • Too easily ingested
    • Will cause obstructions in your snake
    • Creates far too much dust

    Buyer’s Guide – Purchasing the Best Snake Substrate Bedding

    If you’re still unsure of which snake bedding to choose, we’re here to help. The truth is, most snakes will do fine with any high-quality bedding you choose, but we’re going to narrow down the field for you a little more in this short buyer’s guide.

    Bedding for Desert Snakes vs Tropical Snakes

    In the end, your decision is going to come down to one very important factor; whether your snake is a tropical species or a desert dweller. While there are some substrates that will work for either, they each have some very specific needs that you’ll have to consider when purchasing a bedding.

    Bedding for Desert Snakes

    Desert snakes require a dry environment. If the humidity gets too high, it can cause skin problems, infections, and more. They’re just not suited for a high-humidity environment. As such, you’ll need a bedding that won’t contribute to the humidity in your snake’s enclosure.

    However, the bedding will still need to be highly absorptive so it can absorb your snake’s waste quickly. Also, this will ensure that if water spills or your snake makes a large enough mess, the substrate will absorb it so your snake isn’t stuck in the moisture.

    But you have to be careful as many of these substrates tend to be very dusty. You’ll be using them completely dry, so there’s no moisture to contain the dust. As such, you’ll want to look for a dust-free formula because the dust is terrible for your snake’s respiratory system.

    Bedding for Tropical Snakes

    Naturally, tropical snakes need the opposite of desert-dwelling snake species. These snakes need a very humid environment and can be prone to health issues if the humidity gets too low. This means that you’ll be using the substrate in a very different way for tropical snakes.

    Instead of putting the bedding in dry, you’ll want to wet the substrate down. This means you’ll need a highly absorbent substrate that can hold onto the moisture, slowly releasing it over time to maintain proper humidity within the enclosure.

    However, you’ll need to be very careful to avoid mold and mildew. Some beddings are susceptible to bacterial growth and mold, which isn’t healthy for your snake.



    There are many options available for filling the bottom of your snake’s enclosure with a suitable substrate. These are made from a variety of different materials, as you’ve seen in our reviews, which can make it difficult to choose just one. For that reason, we’ve decided to reconfirm our recommendations so they’re fresh in your mind.

    Our favorite snake bedding is theZoo Med forest floor reptile bedding. It’s made from 100% natural cypress mulch, so it looks like a forest floor, keeping your snake’s habitat as close to their natural habitat as possible. It can help maintain humidity in your aquarium, or it can help to dry it out, depending on your needs.

    We think the Zilla lizard litter reptile bedding represents the best value. It’s 100% natural and even suitable for composting, and the eucalyptus chips keep the enclosure smelling fresh and natural.

    For a premium option, we suggest the Zoo Med premium repti bark natural fir reptile bedding. It’s made from 100% fir tree bark, making it natural and safe for snakes. Plus, you can wash and reuse this bedding, saving you loads of money in the long run.

    Featured image credit: Left Handed Photography, Shutterstock

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