When looking for reptile bedding, there are many options available to pet owners but an educated choice must be made to assure the safety and happiness of a Savannah monitor. The following options will help reptile owners choose the best bedding for their reptile and understand why not all bedding types are equally appropriate.
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Bedding made from wood comes in different forms, sizes, types of wood, and even colors. The most common types of wood that are used to make bedding are pine, cedar, douglas fir, aspen, and cypress. These wood varieties will then come in the form of shavings, pellets, or chips to use as bedding.
Wood beddings are popular for many types of reptiles, including Savannah monitors. Some concerns with wood shavings, pellets, and bark chips are the lack of absorbency and odor control as well as the damage some products can cause to the feet of reptiles.
Some companies dye their shavings different colors or infuse them with chlorophyll. Besides staining the reptile the color of the bedding, these dyes don't do much for odor control or absorbency.
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Recycled Paper Bedding
This bedding isn't always marketed to the reptile community but many owners like the high level of absorbency that the small pellets and soft pieces of recycled paper have. Of course you won't find a Savannah monitor on paper bedding in the wild so in that sense it isn't a natural substrate for them but they do seem to like the soft texture of the paper.
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Coconut Fiber Bedding
The stringy fiber pieces on the outside of a coconut, also known as the husk, are yet another choice for Savannah monitor bedding. Coconut fiber is often sold in expandable bricks or bags of loose material and are popular with reptiles who enjoy high humidity environments. The gardening industry also sells a variety but it often has fertilizer in it that can harm reptiles so this should be avoided.
Odor control and absorbency are good with this bedding and burrowing reptiles especially enjoy coconut fiber.
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Alfalfa Meal Bedding
Alfalfa meal is ground up alfalfa hay which is then compressed into small cylindrical pellets, just like pelleted rabbit food. These pellets are quite absorbent and some manufacturers add reptile-safe germ control agents to the meal. The pellets are also biodegradable, help with odor control and should be fairly safe if accidentally ingested. They can be easily kicked around by a heavy Savannah monitor though and are not very soft.Continue to 5 of 10 below.
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Paper Towels and Newspaper
Paper towels and newspaper are inexpensive types of bedding. Some reptile owners shred the towels and newspapers to create a "fluffier" type of bedding, which is good for burrowers, and others just put sheets down on the bottom of the enclosure.
Paper towels and newpapers are absorbent but do nothing for odor control. Owners like the high availability, low cost, ease of clean-up, and lack of possible ingestion. The paper towels and newspaper gets the job done but do not allow a Savannah monitor to dig so you would need a second substrate in another part of the enclosure. These substrates are not good options if your enclosure struggles with low humidity, though, as they do not help retain moisture.
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Colors and textures vary but most reptile carpets are washable and this is their main draw. Some stores will cut carpets to match tank sizes, others are pre-cut and sold for specific enclosure measurements. There is no risk of ingestion and being able to wash them keeps the enclosure sanitary but it definitely isn't a natural substrate for a Savannah monitor, much less any reptile. There is also no opportunity to burrow into a carpet and little is done to aid in moisture retention if you need to increase the humidity in the enclosure. If you use reptile carpeting in part of your monitor enclosure be sure to also provide something that your lizard can also dig in.
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Play sand, vitamin infused sand, and digestible calcium sand are all available options for reptile owners. Possible ingestion and impaction are the biggest concerns with sand for reptiles who eat on this substrate. Digestible calcium sand is okay to digest if it is in small amounts but obviously if a reptile were to get a mouth full of any of these types of sand, impaction can occur.
Some sands are colored and while this may add a nice touch to an enclosure, and that is dyed will usually stain your Savannah monitor as well. Sand also clumps when it gets wet, sticks to wet feet, and does not help with odor control. Many owners will often mix some sand with other substrates to create desired textures and to allow their Savannah monitor to burrow.
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Vermiculite is a mineral that is used in many different ways. For reptile bedding, vermiculite is processed by heating it. When water is added it separates into many layers and expands into long worm-like pieces that break apart. These pieces are then used to retain heat and moisture. This type of bedding is great for high humidity reptiles and burrowers.Continue to 9 of 10 below.
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Ground Walnut Shell Bedding
As the name says, this substrate is made of finely ground walnut shells. It can cause impaction in young monitors, does not hold water, and has no odor control. It is easily scooped like cat litter to dispose of waste and does not clump like sand bedding. It is also very easily kicked around an enclosure so it can be difficult to keep contained in one area or clean. It can, however, be great for a digging area for Savannah monitors.
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There are a few different moss varieties used as bedding for reptiles, all of which are good for those that are small and prefer to burrow in a very humid environment. This type of substrate is not ideal for a Savannah monitor as it would be very expensive to line an entire enclosure with and holds far too much moisture than is necessary.
You may also choose to use a variety of different substrates in different parts of your enclosure. If your monitor seems to urinate and defecate in one part of the cage you may opt to use a more absorbent substrate and then use a different kind of bedding in the rest of the cage. Regardless of the kind of bedding that you choose, though, make sure it is easy to clean and non-toxic to your Savannah monitor.