best substrate for a dig box for a beardie who licks everything??

ive had my guy for about 2 years now, and i dont know how this is the first time im noticing this behavior, but id like to remedy it with a proper dig box. hes a sexed male, so this isnt gravid behavior for sure (we just had xrays done and hes a certified not gravid boy, lol!) , but whenever i top his greens off with calcium powder, when everything is cleared out of his bowl or hes done eating, he'll shake around the bowl until all the food is out of it, and just...digs in the leftover calicum powder in the bottom of the bowl. it isnt a lot of powder, and it isnt linked to him wanting to eat or anything, he never does this when his food isnt topped with calcium, so i had an idea to set up a small tub of loose substrate on one side of the tank that he can dig in for fun since he seems to enjoy it :) hes housed on reptile carpet and he doesnt get to dig naturally, so i think it might be a fun enrichment technique.

my only issue is that he licks EVERYTHING. even when hes digging in the leftover calcium he digs his face into it and licks it, it gets all over his face and tries to eat it, and i cant have him getting a calcium overdose just because he loves to get messy in it lol. but now it makes me wonder what substrate can i use for a dig box for him. since he likes to try and eat at stuff like that, i dont feel safe at all using sand, dirt, or coconut shavings for risk of impaction. i was thinking about ground up oats, so it may digest better if he accidentally eats any of it, but i thought i would ask here for suggestions or tips. thanks guys!
 

Badwolfe

Hatchling Member
ive had my guy for about 2 years now, and i dont know how this is the first time im noticing this behavior, but id like to remedy it with a proper dig box. hes a sexed male, so this isnt gravid behavior for sure (we just had xrays done and hes a certified not gravid boy, lol!) , but whenever i top his greens off with calcium powder, when everything is cleared out of his bowl or hes done eating, he'll shake around the bowl until all the food is out of it, and just...digs in the leftover calicum powder in the bottom of the bowl. it isnt a lot of powder, and it isnt linked to him wanting to eat or anything, he never does this when his food isnt topped with calcium, so i had an idea to set up a small tub of loose substrate on one side of the tank that he can dig in for fun since he seems to enjoy it :) hes housed on reptile carpet and he doesnt get to dig naturally, so i think it might be a fun enrichment technique.

my only issue is that he licks EVERYTHING. even when hes digging in the leftover calcium he digs his face into it and licks it, it gets all over his face and tries to eat it, and i cant have him getting a calcium overdose just because he loves to get messy in it lol. but now it makes me wonder what substrate can i use for a dig box for him. since he likes to try and eat at stuff like that, i dont feel safe at all using sand, dirt, or coconut shavings for risk of impaction. i was thinking about ground up oats, so it may digest better if he accidentally eats any of it, but i thought i would ask here for suggestions or tips. thanks guys!
A mixture of topsoil, clay and sand is the best thing you could give to your dragon to dig in. As long as your temperature and lighting are correct then there is no risk of impaction.

All this grossly incorrect information on loose substrates causing impaction is as a result of people who kept / keep dragons purely on sand (particularly calci-sand).

Beardies in the wild do not live on carpet and neither do they spend their entire lives on hard surfaces (such as tile). Both of these come with their own sets of problems that can cause medical issues and restrict a range of behaviours in your dragon that would be displayed in the wild.

The make-up of a Beardies substrate in the wilds of the Outback consists of soil, sand and clay. Nature has spent millions of years adapting your pet to not only exist but thrive on such substrates. Problems only occur if you use just sand.

Just because your boy licks everything he encounters does not mean he's eating it (or intends to) they are just assessing things by taste and smell. He is using the Jacobsons organ in the top of his mouth to get a full picture of his surroundings.

Even if he does accidently swallow small amounts of soil, clay or sand a dragon with a healthy digestive system will pass them through with no problems. In fact your dragon will have more chance of impaction from things like nibbling on artificial plants than a correctly blended loose substrate!
 

itsTigereye

Member
Beardie name(s)
Sunny
A mixture of topsoil, clay and sand is the best thing you could give to your dragon to dig in. As long as your temperature and lighting are correct then there is no risk of impaction.

All this grossly incorrect information on loose substrates causing impaction is as a result of people who kept / keep dragons purely on sand (particularly calci-sand).

Beardies in the wild do not live on carpet and neither do they spend their entire lives on hard surfaces (such as tile). Both of these come with their own sets of problems that can cause medical issues and restrict a range of behaviours in your dragon that would be displayed in the wild.

The make-up of a Beardies substrate in the wilds of the Outback consists of soil, sand and clay. Nature has spent millions of years adapting your pet to not only exist but thrive on such substrates. Problems only occur if you use just sand.

Just because your boy licks everything he encounters does not mean he's eating it (or intends to) they are just assessing things by taste and smell. He is using the Jacobsons organ in the top of his mouth to get a full picture of his surroundings.

Even if he does accidently swallow small amounts of soil, clay or sand a dragon with a healthy digestive system will pass them through with no problems. In fact your dragon will have more chance of impaction from things like nibbling on artificial plants than a correctly blended loose substrate!
Hello! I am also considering a dig box for my beardie, as I tried a loose substrate for her (ReptiChips) and have just had to remove it due to an impaction. She has proper lighting and temperature, but she would dig all day and keep licking the chips and ingesting a piece every time. Eventually this built up and caused an impaction that we were able to clear with olive oil and squash. She’s not happy that she lost the substrate since she loved digging but unfortunately it’s for her own safety. So I definitely don’t agree that there is never an impaction risk even with proper husbandry, she just ate too much of it to pass it which seems like an issue this beardie owner may find. She’s also licked dust and hair before which I have to remove from her mouth…

I’m using a Zoo Med ReptiSun 10.0 UVB mounted inside her tank, temperatures of ~90-95 basking (temp gun) and ~95-103 basking (digital thermometer) from halogen bulbs, she has a balanced diet and is receiving calcium supplements. Currently on paper towels after removing the ReptiChips and her tank size is 48"W x 24"D x 24"H.

ive had my guy for about 2 years now, and i dont know how this is the first time im noticing this behavior, but id like to remedy it with a proper dig box. hes a sexed male, so this isnt gravid behavior for sure (we just had xrays done and hes a certified not gravid boy, lol!) , but whenever i top his greens off with calcium powder, when everything is cleared out of his bowl or hes done eating, he'll shake around the bowl until all the food is out of it, and just...digs in the leftover calicum powder in the bottom of the bowl. it isnt a lot of powder, and it isnt linked to him wanting to eat or anything, he never does this when his food isnt topped with calcium, so i had an idea to set up a small tub of loose substrate on one side of the tank that he can dig in for fun since he seems to enjoy it :) hes housed on reptile carpet and he doesnt get to dig naturally, so i think it might be a fun enrichment technique.

my only issue is that he licks EVERYTHING. even when hes digging in the leftover calcium he digs his face into it and licks it, it gets all over his face and tries to eat it, and i cant have him getting a calcium overdose just because he loves to get messy in it lol. but now it makes me wonder what substrate can i use for a dig box for him. since he likes to try and eat at stuff like that, i dont feel safe at all using sand, dirt, or coconut shavings for risk of impaction. i was thinking about ground up oats, so it may digest better if he accidentally eats any of it, but i thought i would ask here for suggestions or tips. thanks guys!
If you do end up using a mix of clay/soil/sand I’d love if you could keep us updated! I’ve been considering it for my beardie but she also licks and ingests everything…
 
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