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5 Best Snake Bedding Substrates

Most recommended
Zilla Reptile Terrarium Bedding Substrate Liner
  • Size: 55-Gallon
  • Color: Green
  • 11.75 x 47.5 Inches
A good choice too
Small Pet Select Natural Paper Bedding
  • Kiln dried shavings
  • 25 x 16.5 x 8.5 inches
  • Size: 113L
A good choice too
Zoo Med Aspen Snake Bedding 8 Quarts
  • Easy to clean
  • 99.9% dust free
  • Size: 8 qt
ZooMed Aspen Snake Bedding, 24 quart
  • Green product made
  • 99.9% dust free
  • Easy to clean
Granulated Cork Bark Terrarium Reptile
  • Granulated cork bark
  • 100% natural cork
  • Designed to replicate

Choose the Best Snake Bedding Substrate

Customer’s Choice: the Best Rated Snake Bedding Substrates

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

100.00% of users selected Zilla Reptile Terrarium Bedding Substrate Liner, 0.00% selected Small Pet Select Natural Paper Bedding, 0.00% selected Zoo Med Aspen Snake Bedding 8 Quarts, 0.00% selected ZooMed Aspen Snake Bedding, 24 quart and 0.00% selected Granulated Cork Bark Terrarium Reptile. Every month we analyze your answers and change our rating.

Snakes are fascinating creatures that have been around for more than 100 million years. They are some of the most popular pets in the world, but they also need specialized care. One part of their care is choosing what type of bedding to use, which can be confusing with all the options available. 

Benefits of snake bedding substrates:

  • Most substrates are safe and non-toxic for snakes, which makes them a great choice;
  • Provide warmth and comfort for your pet;
  • Aids in shedding, both with the snake itself and their skin when they leave it behind on bedding substrate;
  • Easier to clean than enclosures;

Picking the right snake bedding substrate can be challenging, but you need to do your research before making a decision about what kind of product best suits your needs. Experts have reviewed some of the top selling substrates and created an informative guide that will answer any questions you may have. This full-length article provides useful tips, FAQs with answers, reviews for five products in different price ranges (cheap or expensive), and more detailed information on each type of substrate available online today!

Zilla Green Reptile Terrarium Liner – the Editor’s choice!

Zilla Green Reptile Terrarium Liners are a safe, easy choice for a fresh and healthy habitat. These liners can absorb odors, be used as a catchall for the substrate of excrement debris and quickly washable! If your reptiles accidentally ingest it, it will not irritate them thanks to being non-abrasive.

It has an absorbent material that will not irritate reptiles and it’s safe so they can’t eat it themselves. Now you don’t have to worry about any harmful odors either because this great liner breaks down biodegradable enzymes that reduce odors.

If you want a snake terrarium that smells nice and keeps your reptile’s habitat as fresh as possible, then the Zilla Liner ensures safety for both reptiles and humans.

  • Its non-abrasive and absorbent material will not irritate the snake’s skin;
  • Safe – impossible to digest;
  • Easy to clean;
  • Biodegradable;

  • Only for 40-gallon tanks;
  • Similar to felt;
  • It is a narrow 55G;

The Zilla Green Reptile Terrarium Liner is made out of environmentally friendly material that will help keep odors down; it won’t irritate reptiles who might need to lay on it; and it’s a safe, easy choice where no mess will escape.

Small Pet Select Aspen Bedding – the best for the soft structure!

When you’re in the market for soft bedding that’s safe and natural, rest easy knowing that all of the Small Pet Select Aspen Bedding products share these traits. Made with only the purest ingredients so your beloved pets never have to worry about their health or react allergically to additives like rubber or foam, this bedding is great for everyone – humans included! It has no additives like chemicals or pesticides, and it is kiln dried ensuring the driest of beds.

Even better than its softness and coziness are how it can be recycled or composted at a later date if desired.

  • Soft structure;
  • No additives;
  • All-natural bedding;
  • Recyclable and compostable;
  • Kiln-dried;

  • Leaves a bit of dust;
  • Some users claim it may cause respiratory problems in pets;

Your favorite small pet would love to cuddle up in these luxurious, all-natural aspen bedding pellets. Made with no additives and kiln dried for the most pleasing indoor odor control, this bedding is compostable/recyclable too!

Zoo Med Aspen Snake Bedding – the best for easy cleaning!

Are you looking for a new substrate that lasts long and is easy to clean? Zoo Med Aspen Snake Bedding is made from an organic product, this can last up to twice longer as other substrate products.

With the 99.9% dust-free formula, all you have to do with it is rinse out any messes or spills before putting it back in the cage! It even allows your pet bedding little time to dry by absorbing most of the moisture left in droppings themselves! Now’s the perfect time for this product since its good price point won’t hurt your pocketbook either.

  • Easy to clean;
  • Good price point;
  • Dust-free;
  • All-green material;
  • Lasts longer than other substrate products;

  • Can be infested with termites;
  • Strange odor;

With a 99.9% dust-free guarantee, this Zoo Med bedding is easy to clean with daily maintenance removing any unwanted dirt before they cause mold or other major bacterial issues for your snake pal.

ZooMed 24-quart Aspen Snake Bedding – the best for capacity!

No one wants to clean up reptile waste after their pet, but don’t worry! With the ZooMed 24-quart Aspen Snake Bedding, you can fill your enclosure with a 100% natural substrate that is easy to keep fresh. Made out of renewable plant matter that’s also 99.9% dust-free, this substrate is perfect for any terrarium in need of a fresh start. Your snake will easily crawl through it or dig deep underneath it.

This all-natural substrate creates a perfect indoor environment for snakes. It mimics the natural look of real leaves but without all the mess.

  • 24 quarts of the all-natural substrate;
  • All-natural;
  • Dust-free;
  • Snakes like digging in it;
  • Easy to spot clean;

  • Smells weird;
  • Pricey;

This 24-quart Aspen Snake Bedding by ZooMed can be perfect for their natural instinct to dig in the substrate. Manufactured from a renewable resource that’s bioactive and easy to clean, it provides your pet with all of the high-quality nutrients he or she needs at every stage of growth.

Jelinek Granulated Cork Bark Terrarium Reptile Bedding – the best for burrowing!

This Jelinek Granulated Cork Bark Bedding comes with all the perks to make your pet feel at home and comfortable while it remains within its enclosure.

The 100% natural and high-quality cork granule offers an unparalleled level of comfort for your pets while simultaneously stimulating digging and burrowing behavior. All while also providing ideal coverage for 10-gallon enclosures this product is a must-have!

  • Granulated;
  • Snakes like burrowing in it;
  • 10% natural;
  • Ideal coverage;

  • The granulation isn’t consistent;
  • Small capacity – only for 10-gallon tanks;

Granulated cork bark by Jelinek provides just the right terrain necessary for stimulating digging and burrowing behaviors along with providing enough coverage without leaving any exposed surfaces exposed – perfect for smaller enclosures where every inch counts!

The Buyer’s Guide

Main Features:

  1. Snake Bedding Types:


A great option for beginners or people on a budget. Newspapers are cheap and readily available at grocery stores, pet shops, etc. If you are using newspaper as bedding in the terrarium then it will need to be changed frequently (at least once per week) because of moisture build-up from your snake’s waste products which can cause mold growth. This also makes newspapers unsuitable if humidity levels are high inside the tank. You should avoid black & white newsprint with colored ink because this could potentially irritate your snake through ingestion during feeding time so stick with plain old newspapers printed entirely in black ink only!

The newspaper has poor aesthetics – all that boring white everywhere gets full very quickly but there are ways around this. You can drape a piece of dark fabric over the cage to give it a more naturalistic feel or you could try lining an aquarium with newspaper and then put substrate on top.

The ink from black & white newsprint may be harmful to your snake if they ingest too much while trying to eat their prey so keep this in mind during feeding time as well. If not careful, this could cause injury by either eating the paper itself or getting bits of ink onto/in its mouth causing infections, etc. It is best to use plain old newspapers printed entirely in black only!

Aspen Shavings

A good option but maybe just a little bit expensive compared to other substrates that provide similar benefits. Aspen shavings are a safe option to use and can be easily spot cleaned when needed. Aspen shavings are non-toxic and have a neutral pH that is good for snakeskin. As far as safety goes, if ingested by your pet during feeding time it is unlikely to cause any harm other than minor digestive upset (if eaten in large quantities). 

Aspen shavings are not aesthetically pleasing substrates and they can be difficult to get hold of in certain areas. If you want a more naturalistic-looking tank then perhaps try other substrates like cypress mulch or coconut coir which come in various different colors that could provide a better look for your terrarium (and probably cheaper too).

Aspen can be dusty so you should put it in an open container or over a screen to keep your snake from accidentally ingesting the dust while they’re trying to eat their prey. Dusty substrates could cause respiratory problems if inhaled on a regular basis by either yourself, your snakes, or both!

Aspen shavings should not be used for hatchlings or young snakes because they could try ingesting them while trying to eat their prey which is dangerous due to the possibility of causing injury in the throat by swallowing too much wood/shaving particles. It is best to avoid using aspen shavings with very small babies until they are older & larger, about 12 – 16 inches.

Cypress Mulch

Cypress mulch is safe and non-toxic while also providing your pet with the proper humidity it needs inside of its tank! It’s cheap, readily available at most stores that sell pets (especially reptile/amphibian supplies), easy to spot clean when needed by simply scooping any waste away, and has no odor which means less stress on you & your snake(s). 

Also, it holds humidity well but as always there are some downsides too just as with all substrates that do this. It will hold onto water so be prepared to dump out any excess from time to time and also keep an eye on things when it’s humid inside of the tank because mold may form faster than usual depending on how much substrate has been used compared to the size/volume of a terrarium or enclosure. 

When kept too damp, cypress mulch can be a haven for parasites. If this is the case then it should be treated just as you would any other substrate that becomes moist & moldy from being left in the water all of the time (which sometimes happens if people let their snake tanks get over-wet). To disinfect the area where the fungus has formed performed an anti-fungal cleanse using dehumidifiers or fans to dry out wet areas inside of terrariums/enclosures while at the same time keeping your pet(s) safe by moving them into temporary housing until things are back under control again.

Coconut Coir/Husk

A newer option to use when looking for substrates that are more natural-looking & also safe for your pet to live on. Just like cypress mulch, coconut coir is fairly cheap and easy to find at most stores that sell snake supplies. 

Coconut coir holds water well just like cypress mulch does so remember to dump out any excess from time to time when using this stuff because over-humid conditions can cause mold/mildew faster than usual if there is too much moisture inside of an enclosure. One big benefit of using coconut coir is that it’s very resistant to mold & mildew so you don’t have as much of a chance for anything like fungus growing inside the tank. In addition, this substrate can be used by itself or mixed with other substrates (like cypress mulch) which means more choice in what type of naturalistic look/feel your pet(s) will get while living on these types of terrarium floors!

It isn’t completely odorless but compared to some other bedding options out there today, especially those made from wood chips/shavings, coco coir has almost no noticeable smell at all which makes it great if you’re sensitive to smells coming from a snake enclosure. 

Coconut Coir is also resistant to parasites but just like cypress mulch, this stuff should be disinfected when it’s too humid & moldy due to moisture getting trapped in areas where humidity levels are high. 

Paper Towels

Paper towels are cheap and easy to clean up. They’re also soft, so they don’t irritate the snake’s skin. If you use paper towels as bedding for your pet snakes, make sure that it is unscented because some brands have scents that may upset or even harm your pets. 

Additionally, many owners do not like how dry paper towel substrates can get since reptiles naturally live in humid environments with high moisture content compared to desert-dwelling animals. The snakes tend to be more prone to shedding issues and respiratory infections since they can’t properly shed while on a dry substrate like a paper towel instead of properly hydrated ones with higher moisture content in their tanks.

Paper toweling should never be kept wet under any circumstances but rather changed out regularly if it becomes soiled. If you are using paper towels, it is vital to ensure that your snake’s living environment has high humidity levels. 

Commercial Paper Liners

These come in rolls of 20, 100, or 200 feet and can be used for multiple animals because you only need to use one piece per cage so it makes them economical if your pet is large or lives with others. They’re also easy to clean by simply removing the dirty liner and replacing it with a fresh sheet of paper. And they won’t retain odors like natural beddings might. 

Commercial paper liners can become the best snake bedding substrates due to their ease of use. They’re also great for multiple animals, economical, easy to clean, won’t retain odors like natural beddings might, but aren’t great at maintaining humidity levels which some snakes require especially when shedding their skin as this process requires more humidity than usual. 

However, these aren’t great at maintaining humidity levels which some snakes require especially when shedding their skin as this process requires more humidity than usual but there are tricks that you can do with this type of substrate such as placing water dishes on top of the paper to help maintain humidity levels.

Orchid Bark 

Orchid bark is made from fir and pine trees. It’s not as popular as other substrates but it offers many benefits to your snake pet, such as: 

  • Moisture retention – the bark has a high water-holding capacity which gives the snake access to drinking water all day long. This feature helps prevent dehydration that can be life-threatening for reptiles who don’t drink enough fluids on their own;
  • Fiber density – the bark is suitable for animals that eat twigs and branches. It’s not as dense as coconut fiber, which makes it easier to ingest the things your pet eats;
  • Bacteria-free source of food plant material – according to studies orchids can help with digestion issues in reptiles because they contain less cellulose than other plants;
  • High-quality – orchid bark is manufactured in a way to be free of contaminants. It’s suitable for use with sensitive animals, such as insects and amphibians;
  • No risk of impaction – the substrate is not likely to cause intestinal issues because it doesn’t swell when exposed to water. This means that there’s no risk of your pet ingesting too much or choking on the substrate by accident;
  • Non-toxic – orchid bark is free of any toxic chemicals that might be harmful to your snake. It doesn’t contain salts, so it also won’t cause dehydration or electrolyte imbalances in reptiles with kidney issues;
  • Easier to monitor moisture level – the humidity provided by the substrate can be monitored more easily than other materials because you can see through it. This way if there’s too much water inside your pet will have an easy time spotting it and drinking from the bowl instead of having access to it all day long which could potentially lead to health problems;
  • Soft surface – orchid bark provides a comfortable resting place for your snake. Some of them like to lay on top of the substrate, especially if it’s humid inside their enclosure or during shedding. The texture is also beneficial when you need to feed items that might get stuck in other types of substrates;

There are some downsides about using this type of bedding material with reptiles though: 

  • It can’t be composted – this means that there’s no way to use orchid bark as fertilizer after its lifespan has ended which makes it non-environmentally friendly and less cost-effective than other types of substrates that can be recycled after being used by pets;
  • It also takes up more space because it comes in larger bags that are usually more expensive;
  • Staining – there’s a risk of staining your floor because the substrate can leave brown marks when it gets wet or dirty after being exposed to food items, excrement, and other substances from inside an enclosure. This is not dangerous but if you have white carpets in your house it might be difficult to get rid of the stains without professional help;


Gravel is a type of substrate that provides the benefits of being both absorbent and non-absorbent. It’s usually made from natural substances such as quartz, limestone or granite but there are also brands that combine gravel with other materials to make it more interesting for pets who might need extra stimulation inside their enclosure. 

Gravel substrates have many advantages over other types: 

  • They’re inexpensive – compared to other snake bedding alternatives like coconut fiber, bark, mulch, etc., this material is very affordable which makes it an excellent choice if you don’t want to spend too much money on bedding even though your pet has special requirements (for example eating twigs);
  • Good drainage properties – the material is very porous and provides excellent drainage for areas that tend to get wet. This makes it perfect if you have pets that need a humid environment or are prone to skin infections, shedding problems, etc.;
  • Non-toxic – gravel substrates come from natural sources which mean there’s no risk of ingesting harmful chemicals by accident when your pet buries itself inside this bedding type because the substrate will not hold any contaminants after being processed at the factory where it was made; 

There are also some downsides about using gravel as snake substrate: 

  • It can’t be composted – gravel is non-environment-friendly since you can’t use gravel waste once its lifespan has ended which makes it more expensive than other types of substrates that can be recycled through composting;
  • It’s too heavy for some enclosures – some keepers complain about gravel holding the humidity inside an enclosure which makes it difficult to provide a comfortable environment for their pets without spending more money on humidifiers, air conditioners, etc. It might also get stuck in crevices and small holes after being exposed to high levels of moisture because its surface area is very large compared to other substrate options like coconut fiber or bark;
  • Gravel dust mustn’t get into your pet’s lungs which means you should never use this type if there are any respiratory problems (even mild ones) present in your snake’s family line since they’re prone to breathing difficulties due to genetic predispositions;

Artificial Carpet

Many people prefer using artificial carpets for their pet’s cages. It’s more pleasant to the touch than natural fibers and it doesn’t slide around easily since its surface is very slippery, but some snakes seem to dislike this type of substrate because they sense that there isn’t any warmth under them which simulates sleeping on rock (natural snake bedding).

Another thing you should know about carpeting your reptile habitat with artificial material is that most types are treated with harsh chemicals during manufacture so they’ll emit unpleasant smells or may contain carcinogens like benzene or styrene. Experts recommend avoiding all products containing these substances.

The best way to make sure your snake stays safe while using an artificial carpet as flooring is to make sure it’s manufactured from polypropylene (polypro) or nylon and that the dye used doesn’t contain any harmful chemicals.

The most common type of carpeting used for snake keeping is the artificial turf made from polypropylene because it’s reasonably priced and easy to clean. You can find this material in a variety of different colors so you could match them with your pet’s coloration if desired.


If you wish to use soil as a snake bedding substrate, it should be at least 6 inches deep because baby snakes need very loose dirt so they can burrow and move around freely. Adults will also appreciate this type of flooring but if your pet is prone to eating its own shed skin (shedder) then there’s a high chance that he/she may get sick from ingesting too much earth or sand particles since these substances are rough on their digestive system which causes blockages requiring urgent veterinary care!

One thing you must keep in mind when using soil for your pet’s cage is that most soil types contain harmful chemicals like pesticides or fertilizers before being packed into bags for sale. These compounds aren’t always removed during processing which means they may be harmful to your pet. It’s also important to make sure the soil you’re about to use doesn’t contain any sharp objects like rocks or glass shards that could injure your snake because even small injuries can become infected which is very dangerous in the case of a large reptile.

If you decide not to buy pre-packaged soil, always sift through it before using (you should wear gloves when doing this) and remove anything hazardous since loose particles could get stuck inside their mouth during self-grooming after shedding! If possible, look for dirt from a yard instead of commercially sold potting soils as these are often sterilized with chemicals so there will be less chance of contamination.

Be aware though that some types of soil (especially clay) dry out very quickly and if you use this type of substrate then make sure to spray it once in a while with water so your snake won’t dehydrate! This is especially important if the temperature inside their cage doesn’t get too high, at which point there could be significant amounts of moisture loss through transpiration.

You can also obtain much better results by mixing soil with different types of organic matter like peat moss, coconut coir fiber, or sphagnum moss before placing it into your pet’s enclosure since these substances will retain humidity longer than plain topsoil.

  1. Snake Bedding to Avoid:


One of the most common substrates used in pet stores and sold to snake owners is sand. It’s cheap, comes in a variety of colors, and makes for easy cleaning (just vacuum it up). However, there are several problems with this substrate:

  • They can accidentally ingest some when feeding on their prey animal that may lead to impaction issues if consumed over time;
  • Sand as a substrate for your snakes is very easy to clean. However, the issue with using any loose substrate (especially those that aren’t sterilized) is that it can carry diseases and parasites into your enclosure which may harm or even kill your pet snake if they are exposed over time;
  • It can be difficult to spot if issues arise such as mites, mold/fungus, or impaction. If you use any type of loose bedding material (such as the ones listed below), then these issues will more than likely become apparent within 24-48 hours after they start appearing on your snake’s body following an infestation from their enclosure surfaces (i.e., rocks, branches);

Cedar or Pine

Pine bedding is not ideal for ball pythons or any other type of snake that could potentially eat it. In this case, cedarwood shavings are a better option as they do not have the same health risks as pine and can still absorb some moisture from your pet’s waste products. 

While some people use both, others recommend using one or the other and not mixing materials. If you make a point of cleaning out your snake’s cage more often than usual (at least once per week), then there is no problem in switching back and forth between cedar shavings and pine shavings.

However, if you do decide to mix them together, be sure that they are completely dry before adding them to your pet’s enclosure as damp wood can promote bacterial growth that could lead to health problems for your snakes. 

However, cedar shavings are still considered toxic to reptiles – particularly the oils in cedar. If your snake is not eating or having bowel movements, it may be due to ingestion of some wood particles that can lead to impaction if left untreated. It’s also possible that inhalation of the fumes from these products could cause respiratory problems for your pet as well so they should always be used with caution and never on their own substrate even when mixed with other materials like newspaper, reptile carpeting, etc. 

Cat Litter

It’s possible to find cat litter made from recycled paper, wheat, and even orange peels which are suitable for use as snake bedding. There is a huge variety of litter available on the market so it might be worth trying more than one type before deciding whether it’s right for you or not. 

As with other types of bedding, it’s important to avoid litter containing strong chemicals or scents which are toxic for snakes. You’ll also want to check that the litter is dust-free as this can irritate eyes and lungs if you breathe too much of it in.

But most cat litter products can be dusty and it’s not recommended for use in a vivarium because of this factor alone. It tends to be more expensive than other options, but the price will depend on what you buy and where you get it. Some cat litters are flushable, but most aren’t so it’s important to check this before buying.

  1. Bedding for Desert Snakes vs Tropical Snakes:

Bedding for Desert Snakes:

Desert snakes will generally do well with the same bedding as desert lizards. The best substrates for these species are things like shredded aspen shavings and other similar products. Coconut substrate is also a good choice because it doesn’t hold moisture or odor.  It’s also good at controlling humidity for desert species.

Bedding for Tropical Snakes:

Tropical and subtropical snake breeds (including many popular ball python morphs) can be kept on any of the common snake beddings – there really isn’t one that works better than others in terms of temperature requirements; all perform equally well as far as maintaining ambient humidity levels go, which varies from tropical species’ natural rainforest habitat to the desert.

Tropical species are often kept at higher humidity levels, but not always – some keepers elect for a drier cage while others maintain an average level of 40-50%. Tropical snake substrates can consist of any number of things including aspen shavings, cypress mulch, or coconut substrate. There is no difference in temperature requirements between these substrates other than that they will control different variables within the terrarium. 

The best way to go about this would be to experiment with each one and see how your snakes respond before choosing which you’d like to use long term. Cleaning them both regularly should also remain consistent since you have less leeway when it comes to either type being too wet or dry.


Is substrate good for snakes?

Yes. A substrate is good for snakes as it helps keep their humidity and temperature levels in the correct balance, which reduces stress on the snake. It also makes a safe surface for burrowing and hiding from predators that they instinctively do when threatened or scared.

What do you put in the bottom of a snake tank?

The bottom of a snake tank can be as simple as newspaper, butcher’s paper, or you could go all out and buy the best snake bedding substrate that is great for your pet. 

The best snake bedding substrates can offer a simple and easy way to provide your pet with a comfortable home. The substrate is the material placed on the bottom of an enclosure for reptiles, amphibians, or invertebrates. Not all snakes are going to need a specific type of bedding but some species might require more attention than others when it comes to this aspect. 

For example, a water snake would need something that won’t get too soggy and allow the absorption of excess humidity. On the other hand, desert snakes do not require such an extra measure from their owners because they are very used to living in dry environments.

How often should I change snake bedding?

There are many different opinions on how often to change snake bedding. Some say you should only replace it every other week, but others recommend doing so weekly or even daily in some cases. The truth is that there really isn’t a right answer for this question; the best time to switch out your substrate will depend upon several factors and can vary from cage to cage and species of snake to species of snake. 

With the exception of those like ball pythons that spend most of their time burrowed underground, snakes do not actually need an entirely new layer laid down each time they shed their skin (which may be as frequently as once per month). What’s more important than changing all the old substrate when your pet sheds is making sure that any remaining shed skin and/or fecal matter is removed from the cage.

Is Cedar toxic to snakes?

Cedarwood is not toxic to snakes, however, it can cause skin irritations and respiratory problems if the snake gets too much of a cedar essence. It also absorbs liquids easily which increases humidity levels. 

What smells do snakes hate?

Snakes seem to be pretty picky about their bedding substrates. According to a study by Brigham Young University, they won’t even use the snake substrate if it has almost any scent at all – not pleasant or unpleasant odors. The fact that snakes hate strong smells doesn’t necessarily mean you should choose a product with no smell though – scented products sometimes work better as an odor neutralizer for your snake enclosures and cages!

Useful Video: Best Snake Substrates and Beddings

Final thoughts 

Hopefully, this article has been helpful in your search for the right substrate to use with your snake. Remember, you can always come back here and reference our reviews of each type of product if you have any questions about what specific material is best.