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5 Best Bedding Substrates for Ball Python

Most recommended
Zoo Med Forest Floor Bedding
  • Size: 8 L
  • 100% natural cypress mulch
  • All natural green “product”
A good choice too
Zoo Med Repti Bark Natural Reptile BedDig
  • All Natural green” product”
  • Absorbent
  • Re-usable
A good choice too
Fluker Labs Repta-Bark All Natural Bedding
  • Size: 8 Quart
  • All Natural Bedding
  • United States
Zoo Med Reptile Bark Fir Bedding
  • Brand Zoo Med
  • Item Weight 1.85 Pounds
  • 10.8 x 7.8 x 4.3 inches
Zilla Snake and Lizard Litter
  • Brand Zilla
  • Item Weight 3.4 Pounds
  • Material Cotton

Choose the Best Bedding Substrate for Ball Python

Customer’s Choice: the Best Rated Bedding Substrates for Ball Python

8 users answered this survey. Please help us improve this review!

25.00% of users selected Zoo Med Forest Floor Bedding, 37.50% selected Zoo Med Repti Bark Natural Reptile BedDig, 0.00% selected Fluker Labs Repta-Bark All Natural Bedding, 25.00% selected Zoo Med Reptile Bark Fir Bedding and 12.50% selected Zilla Snake and Lizard Litter. Every month we analyze your answers and change our rating.

A bedding substrate is a material that you place your ball python on during its time out of the vivarium. It provides both comfort and warmth for them, as well as preventing injuries from occurring when they are crawling around or trying to hide in small spaces such as crevices within rocks and logs.

Benefits of bedding substrates: 

  • Improve the overall hygiene and cleanliness; 
  • Add more visual appeal; 
  • Increase humidity levels, especially during shedding cycles; 
  • Make it easier to spot shed skin (in case you miss any patches);  
  • Prevent ingestion of bedding material;
  • Enhance the overall comfort level;

A ball python is a popular pet snake. They come from central and eastern Africa, so they need the right temperature and humidity to stay healthy in captivity. One way to maintain these conditions is by using bedding substrates for ball pythons. This article will answer common questions about substrate options, as well as provide product reviews and useful tips for choosing the best bedding substrates for ball pythons!

Zoo Med Forest Floor Bedding – the Editor’s choice!

Are you tired of hard chunks of potting soil and gravel with shards of glass, metal bits, and plastics? Why not switch to a natural product that’s convenient for you and your pet. With Zoo Med Forest Floor Bedding at hand, simply pour it on or spread it by hand! Forest floor bedding is 100% natural cypress mulch so your pets can breathe easy – no chemicals to worry about.

The bedding holds moisture well keeping habitats moist longer than non-soil materials. It also feels great underfoot which means happier reptiles too. Finally but most importantly the product is splinter free – the last thing you want to do is spend your day picking tiny pieces out of someone’s small body.

  • All-natural and green;
  • Soft texture;
  • Good coverage;
  • Holds moisture nicely;
  • Splinter-free;

  • Some users claim that their bags were infested;
  • Too sharp for lizards and frogs;

This amazing all-natural mulch comes from a sustainable source and is the perfect thing to cover your terrarium. It holds moisture nicely, is free from any splinters, and is safe for many types of reptiles as well as some arachnids.

Zoo Med Repti Bark Natural Reptile BedDig for Reptiles – the best for reuse!

There are plenty of options for bedding, but many on the market today can be dangerous to your reptiles. Zoo Med Repti Bark is made with natural wood materials that are absorbent and safe for your reptile friends at home.

Not only will Zoo Med Repti Bark help hydrate them, but the porous honeycomb pattern promotes burrowing habits which promote correct spinal cord development so they’ll do more than just lay around! Plus it’s not dusty or dirty like some other products because it’s washable.

  • “Green” product;
  • Reusability is great;
  • Good price point;
  • Nice absorbent features;
  • Not dusty;
  • Smells good;
  • Washable;

  • Not fully splinter-free;
  • Rough edges are possible;
  • Big chunks are not safe for small reptiles;

Made out of all-natural green materials, this bedding is absorbent and lasts up to one year. With a handy reusable design, simply wash the product as needed so it remains its proper size and odor-free! With a smaller price point, you will have enough room in your pocket to buy more necessities for your ball python!

Fluker Labs Repta-Bark All-Natural Bedding – the best for keeping moisture away!

Fluker Labs Repta-Bark is all-natural bedding that can prevent excessive moisture while absorbing waste inside your terrarium. It’s 100% biodegradable and leaves no residue, so you don’t need to worry about picking it up every day. Plus, this bark doesn’t cause any odor! This bark has great benefits for high humidity-loving reptiles because it helps with shedding while not leaving much residue behind.

Along with being easy to clean, Fluker Labs Bark also aids in helping your pet get enough moisture without having the risk of being stuck to a particular spot after sleeping on overused watering pads or mats.

  • Won’t degrade;
  • Keep moisture away;
  • Odorless;
  • Doesn’t leave residue;
  • Relieves the shedding process;

  • Smaller size than claimed;
  • Dirt dust is possible;
  • Bad packaging;

The Fluker Labs bedding is a moist environment supporter, odor absorber, and one of the best beddings available in the market. Natural ingredients ensure it will not degrade or leave any bad odors, while also making sure to absorb all excess moisture that can build up around reptiles that are known for being high humidity lovers.

Zoo Med Reptile Bark Fir Bedding – the best for easy cleaning!

Zoo Med Reptile Bark Fir Bedding is a great choice for your ball pythons, geckos, newts, chameleons, and iguanas. This eco-friendly bedding product lasts up to one year. Made from the bark of a fir tree.

The bedding provides an all-natural environment hiding dirt while adding aesthetically pleasing decor to your pet’s home. The lime green color makes it easy to spot clean quickly at any time! It has a good price point without compromising on the quality of materials used in this environmentally conscious product.

Zoo Med Reptile Bark Fir Bedding has little pieces that are soft yet tough enough to handle pets who eat their bedding every day due to malnutrition.

  • Easy to clean;
  • Good price point;
  • Hides the dirt;
  • Reusable;
  • Tiny pieces;
  • May last for 1 year;
  • Nice smell;
  • Holds humidity;

  • Can be infested with mites or fungus;
  • Not really good for burrowing;

This Zoo Med Bedding is 100% recycled and natural; all you need to do is take it home, add it to your terrarium or cage, and get ready for a year’s worth of easy care! It holds humidity like a moss ball reservoir yet won’t decompose when wet.

Zilla Snake and Lizard Litter – the best for hypoallergenic features!

Zilla Snake and Lizard Litter is the perfect option for all of your snake needs. Laboratory grade aspen chips are ultra-absorbent due to being heat treated in a process specifically created to preserve integrity while still being safe for use with herps. These hypo-allergenic chips are 100% natural with no oils so you won’t have to worry about irritating your little friend’s skin or eyes!

Their small particle size makes spot cleaning after an accident quick and easy too. You can give these tiny guys cleanliness that promises long-lasting quality without risking allergic reactions thanks to Zilla Snake and Lizard Litter!

  • Hypoallergenic;
  • The choice of professional herpetologists;
  • No harmful oils;
  • Good for spot cleaning;

  • Dusty;
  • Some bags can be infested with mites;
  • Some small pieces may get into the water;

Zilla Snake and Lizard Litter is a laboratory-grade litter made with ultra-absorbent aspen chips. It’s hypoallergenic containing no harmful oils, making it safe for – you guessed it – reptiles!

The Buyer’s Guide

Main Features:

  1. Natural and Non-Toxic

Natural bedding should be made from organic materials, so it’s safe for your snake to use. Such bedding looks great in the terrarium or vivarium, allowing you to create a lively look that fits with your reptile decor. The all-natural substrate will reduce waste’s odor and help keep bacteria at bay while preventing snakes from getting sick by ingesting parasites found on natural substrates. It’s great for people who want to create a clean environment while reducing their own exposure to harmful materials like chemicals and pesticides.

  1. Absorbent Materials

Newspaper, paper towels, butcher/packing, or craft paper are all absorbent materials. They can be used alone as bedding for snakes but they must be changed daily to avoid the waste products of digestion becoming stuck to them and leading to bacterial growth. For this reason, it is best not to use these types of substrate for hatchlings who may still have problems with bowel movements that require you to clean their cage more often than once a day. It is better to invest in special products that have great absorbent materials. 

  1. Soft Texture

Many popular bedding choices for ball pythons are soft. The best substrates for ball python would be something that is not too rough but also has enough texture to keep them from slipping around when they move or sleep in their cages.

Some examples include newspapers, paper towels (which can usually be bought at extremely low prices because you will need so many rolls), white bathroom tissue, Reptile Carpet (a carpet specifically designed for reptiles). These options are all excellent and easy to clean up if your snake makes a mess with his water bowl or food dish by simply replacing it with a new substrate!

  1. Maintains Humidity 

A snake owner must understand that the humidity level in their reptile’s habitat is very important. The bedding substrate for ball python should maintain a high degree of humidity, but not too much to encourage mold growth. Also, it does not retain water easily – which could drown your pet! Most substrates are made out of paper pulp or recycled newspapersthey will soak up excess moisture and wetness like sponges. Some also come with added dehumidifying properties (which help keep down mosquito larvae) while others contain chemicals that prevent the development of bacteria and fungi spores – all great features if you want to give your pet an optimal environment! 

  1. Ease of Cleaning

The ease of cleaning is one aspect to consider when choosing a bedding substrate. Ball pythons make great pets and they require very little care. The last thing you want though is for the snake’s home or your home to smell like their habitat because that can create some serious problems. 

Another reason you want to make sure the substrate is easy to clean is that it will help keep your snake healthy. If they are living in a dirty environment, this can lead to health problems that could end up being very costly for you or even be fatal if not addressed quickly enough. Keeping their home clean won’t only save you money but also give them a better quality of life which makes keeping ball pythons worth all the time and effort involved with caring for them. 

  1. Fungal and Parasite Risk

Many people will tell you that sand is the best substrate for a ball python, but they’re wrong. The risk of your snake getting sick from exposure to bacteria or parasites can be heightened by using sand as bedding in its tank. Even if it looks clean and dry when you put it down there’s no way to know what has happened on the journey from where it’s originally made to your pet store.  The same goes for soil and even newspapers. 

The only way to truly avoid the risk is to use a substrate like shredded coconut fiber that’s been thoroughly sterilized or reptile carpeting that can be washed in hot water when it needs replacing.

  1. Burrowing Habits

The ball python is a tropical snake that prefers to live in moist, humid areas. They are nocturnal and typically remain underground during the daytime hours where they can hide from predators and stay safe. When they do come out of their burrows, it’s usually at night when there isn’t enough light for animals like birds or other snakes to see them easily. They are secretive and like to hide under things, in small spaces or even underground.

The ball python is also an excellent burrower that can bury itself into the ground with just its head exposed above the surface of the soil. When digging their own burrows they will usually do so at night when it’s cool out because they don’t want to risk burning themselves on hot surfaces during daylight hours. 

Desert species will dig deeper tunnels than rainforest or equatorial snakes who prefer shorter burrows where their bodies fit perfectly inside without much room around them for potential predators to get a hold on them easily! The bedding substrate should be chosen according to these habits of ball pythons. 

Ball Python Substrate Types:

Coconut Husk Substrate

It is a good substrate as it is not sharp and has no fumes or odors. It absorbs well with little tracking, but be aware that some ball pythons may ingest this during feeding time – it shouldn’t hurt them at all, but you won’t want to leave any uneaten insects in the ball python enclosure overnight because they will have coco husk stuck on their bodies when morning comes. You can use up to 50% of this material if desired. However, more than 25%-30% tends to cause problems by molding and creating humidity issues within the cage. 

Coconut coir does retain moisture very efficiently (more so than most other bedding types), and needs are monitored closely (especially if you are using more than 30%). If you do use this material, ensure that it is sterilized (e.g., by baking in the oven at 300 degrees Fahrenheit for an hour on each side), and then let it dry out completely before placing your snake inside.

Bioactive Soil

The bioactive substrate is made of natural materials to simulate a real habitat for your pet. While it’s not very popular, many snake owners are using this type of bedding with great results. It’s very cheap and easy to find

The main drawback is that it might cause respiratory problems, especially in snakes with a history of such issues or who are already sick. Pet stores sometimes carry this type of substrate so you can try it out before making your final decision.

On the other hand, bioactive soil has many benefits:

  • It doesn’t retain humidity and odors as much as organic bedding, which makes cleaning easier; 
  • The pet will be more likely to burrow into the soil than some alternative substrates like those made from recycled paper; 
  • Because the material is loose, not compacted like commercial products, there won’t be any risk of “impactions”; 
  • It’s better for the environment and your home because there won’t be any dust; 
  • It can help keep bugs away; 

Coconut Fiber

Coconut fiber is an all-natural, environmentally friendly bedding that can be used in your ball python’s habitat. This substrate is the most popular choice for naturalistic terrariums due to its low dust content and high absorbency. Coconut fibers are non-toxic which makes them excellent choices for pet owners with allergies or respiratory conditions who want a safe alternative to cedar chips or pine shavings. 

However, this type of substrate does have some disadvantages too. First of all, coconut fibers will not hold heat well at all so they should only be used during cooler months when it may become difficult for reptiles to maintain their body temperature through basking alone. Another disadvantage of using coco fiber as snake bedding is that it does not control odors well and may require the use of a dehumidifier to prevent moisture build-up.

Cypress Mulch

Cypress mulch can be purchased in bags or by the yard. It is spread out into the enclosure to a depth of about 2 inches. Cypress bark will absorb humidity and hold it, but not create “mud” as some other options might. 

Some ball python owners use cypress mulch exclusively because they believe that their snake has better access to water (it occurs naturally within the substrate) than if they used another type of bedding material. It is important to note that cypress mulch can dry out quickly, so it should be misted on occasion.

Cypress mulch is not considered toxic if ingested by ball pythons but some people will mix this substrate with something else (aspen shavings are usually the other choice) for ease of cleaning and monitoring purposes. 

Paper Towels 

Paper towels are the most popular substrate used by ball python owners. They’re easy to clean, readily available in pet stores, and relatively inexpensive compared to other substrates. The main issue with using paper towels is that they can harbor germ, mold, and bacteria. If you are not careful about how often the cages are cleaned, these contaminants could make your pet sick or even kill them.

Off-brand paper towels seem to be more effective than major brands because of their higher level of absorbency – so if cost isn’t a factor for you, go with off-brand paper towels over brand-name ones. 

Another benefit of paper towels is that there’s no odor compared to other bedding substrates such as coco coir. They’re also very easy to replace when it becomes dirty – just take out the old sheet and put in a new one! No need to throw away a whole bin full of the substrate when it becomes smelly or dirty.

For most ball pythons, the only thing you really need to do with paper towels is to make sure that they are changed out regularly and can be completely replaced weekly (for adults) or every other week (juveniles). 

Aspen Shavings 

Aspen shavings are one of the most popular bedding substrates for ball pythons and other reptiles. They come from aspen trees that can be found all over North America, Europe, and Asia. This substrate isn’t toxic to snakes, but it is more difficult to source than some others on this list because there aren’t many places that process it commercially into a suitable size or shape for them. 

Because aspens grow so quickly they’re not considered an endangered species – however, if you do use aspen wood you should make sure your supplier doesn’t harvest trees in old-growth forests where they may have stood undisturbed for hundreds of years by native Americans or indigenous Europeans! 

Ball Python Substrates to Avoid:


Sand should be avoided at all costs due to the fact that their claws get stuck in between the grains, which makes them unable to move around freely and this may lead to health problems such as infections or parasites. They also have an easier time swallowing sand during feeding because they cannot cough out anything like other substrates such as mulch might cause them to. 

Pine and Cedar Shavings

Pine and cedar shavings are not recommended for ball pythons because of the strong aromatic oils in them. In fact, there have been stories about reptiles getting sick from being kept on pine or cedar bedding. It is best to avoid these types of wood especially if your pet seems sensitive to it. If you want to use something that is not as dusty as paper-based substrates, then you are better off with cypress mulch.


Newspapers are not an ideal substrate for ball pythons. It’s okay to use newspapers in the short term. However, it can be challenging if you’d like to maintain a clean and hygienic habitat that isn’t compromised by ink stains or odors. Newspapers are also slippery when wet, which means your snake may fall off their basking rock while they attempt climbing up after drinking water from their bowl and could potentially become injured as well. Other than these reasons, experts do not recommend using newspapers because there are so many better options out there! 


The first bedding substrate that is often recommended for ball pythons is gravel. While it’s true that many people use this type of substrate, there are also some major problems with using gravel as a bedding material. The biggest problem is the risk of ingestion. Since snakes try to dig through their substrates to create hiding places and they like to burrow in order to feel secure, ingesting small pebbles can be very dangerous or even fatal if not caught immediately. If you see your snake dragging his belly along the floor or trying repeatedly to clear out his mouth (it may cause him discomfort), go ahead and take him straight to an exotic vet because he has likely swallowed something; do not wait until morning! 

Artificial Outdoor Carpeting

Artificial outdoor carpeting for ball python substrate is typically made from recycled plastics. It can come in a variety of different colors and patterns, but it tends to be slightly noisy when the snake moves around on it. Another thing about artificial grass that some people don’t like is how it doesn’t look as natural as many other options, especially if you have a brightly colored floor or walls where your cage will sit which might make this choice stand out more than desired by some owners. 

Recycled Fiber Fluff and Pellet Products  

There are many different recycled fiber-bedding products available on the market today. Some of these substrates may seem like an attractive choice at first but can be more costly in the end if your snake becomes ill or injured as a result of substrate ingestion or exposure to toxic chemicals present in some brands. Recycled pellet products are generally very dusty, which can lead to respiratory irritation in snakes. 

Tips for Setting up a Ball Python Cage:

  • Choose a suitable size of cage for your ball python;
  • Make sure that the top is easily removable to allow you easy access around the tank. Wire mesh tops are less desirable because they can damage the snake’s scales, which should be protected with smooth plastic sheeting or at least plexiglass/glass panels. The snake will often rub against this type of coverage and may get injured before an owner realizes it;
  • Do not use any substrate other than paper towels in case the snake gets hurt while trying to escape its enclosure through any possible opening – even small holes in screen lids must be securely covered by solid material such as Plexiglas or something similar. Paper toweling makes cleaning up after feeding quick and easy too! If there is any chance that the snake will escape its enclosure, do not use bedding materials other than plain paper towels;
  • The cage should be easy to clean and well ventilated for good air circulation around your pet. Even though ball pythons are great climbers, their cages need to have a secure top that won’t fall in when they climb on it or cause injuries by falling onto them! The same goes for large rocks because if these get toppled over by an escaping python, there could be broken glass everywhere once the cover comes down;


How often do you change ball python bedding?

The answer depends on the type of substrate you use and how often your ball python uses it. If you go for a solid surface, such as paper or fleece, then change it once every two weeks. However, if you choose an organic material like aspen shavings or coconut coir fiber bedding then change them at least once per week to avoid bacteria accumulation that may cause illness in reptiles. 

How do I know if my ball python is happy?

One of the best ways to tell whether your ball python is happy is through observation. When it comes time for you to check on your pet, be sure to look out for some vital signs so that you can rule out any health problems before they arise. Some things to take note of are his size and weight, how often he’s eating, if there are changes in skin color or condition (e.g., shedding difficulties), activity level, appetite level, behavior patterns (are they normal?), habitat cleanliness levels, and whether there are any signs of parasites or mites.

Can you keep 2 ball pythons in the same tank?

No, it is not recommended to house multiple snakes together. However, some things need to be considered if you temporarily need to house more than one snake in a single enclosure: 

  • It is natural for ball pythons to be territorial of their home, so you should expect some hissing between snakes;
  • If they use different hiding spots and bask at different times of day (diurnal vs. nocturnal), this most likely will result in aggressive behavior towards each other during those periods where their preferred spot or time does not match up. This can lead to injury and possibly death for both animals; however, if your snakes share similar habits then housing them together may work well as long as adequate space is provided without allowing too much overlap into another’s territory;
  • If your snake is not eating well or having difficulty digesting food, this can lead to weight loss and even anorexia which also leads to other health problems such as liver disease. If the animals cannot eat enough prey items by themselves then it may take a long time for them to lose excess weight before they become ill; therefore, feeding together in one enclosure will help reduce these negative effects on each animal’s overall health and wellbeing;

What kind of habitat do ball pythons live in?

Ball pythons are a non-venomous species of snake that originate from within the rainforests and savannas of Africa. They have been known to live in habitats such as termite mounds, rodent burrows, or hollow trees. However, they can often be found living on their own among rocks or vegetation near water sources. Because ball pythons come from humid environments with plenty of rainfall and high temperatures, it is important for owners to mimic these conditions when keeping them as pets at home—which entails having an appropriate habitat setup!

Useful Video: 12 Types of Substrate for Ball Pythons

Final thoughts 

You want to find a bedding substrate that is suitable for your ball python. Some people might prefer paper towels, but others may choose something like aspen shavings or even newspapers. Hopefully, this article has been helpful for you! What do you think would be the best substrate material for your ball python?