List of pet lizards
Substrates commonly used in reptile enclosures include those in the list below. Some of these substrates are inappropriate for some reptiles. Some are inappropriate for all reptiles and are included here so that you will be forewarned against buying them despite pet store recommendations and the implied or explicit wording on product packaging and advertisements.
Substrates should not be collected in the wild as the soil, leaves, sand, gravel, etc., may contain organisms that are harmful to your reptile. Even if you don't use herbicides and pesticides in your yard, these chemicals are transported through the air as both dry and wet deposits, and so contaminate soil, leaves, and the woody parts of plants, even those at some distance from the point of application.
Particulate substrates, even when made from "natural" or "biodegradable" products such as plant fibers, should not be used for any lizard who smells with its tongue. Particles become stuck to the tongue and are swallowed. Over time, they may build up in the gut causing a serious, even fatal, impaction.
Particulate substrates can be problematic for both snakes and lizards as it can become stuck to their hemipenes or everted cloacal tissues when they are defecating, being taken up into the cloaca when the tissue or hemipenes are retracted. This can cause injury and/or infection.
Some fine particulates may get into the eyes of lizards who have no moveable eyelids, causing irritation, injury, serious infection, or even blinding them. Small, sharp particulates may also scratch the protective covering of snake's eyes, which in turn may lead to infection.
Sometimes, the most convenient substrate is not the best substrate for the reptile. Many substrates are being marketed towards specific species even though they have demonstrated track records of causing serious illness, even death, for those species.
Naturalistic habitats may look natural and pleasing, but they are missing the key elements that allow the habitat to work in the wild. There are no decomposers, those invertebrates and microorganisms that do the work breaking down and recycling plant and animal wastes. This means that even naturalistic habitats must be regularly cleaned, including any plants that are contaminated with feces. When deciding whether to go with a naturalistic set up or a more artificial setup, keep in mind the greater amount of time, effort, and expense it will take to keep naturalistic environments clean and in control.
Fine Beach Sand
Available at aquarium stores or aquarium sections of large pet stores. May cause problems with reptiles who may pick up the fine grains with their tongues when lick-smelling or whose hemipenes or cloacal tissue are everted during defecation. To some extent, all sand carries this risk.
When bought new (available in 50 lb. bags from hardware stores and large toy stores such as Toys R Us) this is a clean, medium-sized, rounded grain with some variation in the size and color of the grains. A good, all-purpose choice. A good conductor of heat. Suitable for larger desert species. Wet foods should be offered on sand-free platters or shallow bowls, or the reptiles fed outside the enclosure in an empty or paper towel-lined enclosure. Please note...