Substrate for outdoor enclosure?

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Hi, I am currently building an outdoor enclosure for my beardie, and I was browsing through pictures and I saw a lot of people used hardwood mulch, the big chunks. I was wondering if that was an OK substrate for them, if I sterilize it. My beardie will be fed in a separate tub, so will it be safe? I live in Ohio, so the enclosure will be just for summer and a bit of fall. I'm going to put a tarpulin under the substrate so no buggies can get through.
Thanks,
Sahchit
 

Taterbug

BD.org Addict
I've thought about an outdoor summer set up, I live in Ohio too so I'll be interested to see how it works for you. We have too many lightning bugs for me to work up the nerve yet. Do you plan to have a heat source? It's been a weird summer. What size are you thinking?

My rough "idea" is:

Soil substrate - fiberglass screen or landscape fabric 6-10" below the surface. Would need to buy dirt cause I'm in the city - 50/50 sand/topsoil mix (this is basically what I use in my cage) grass or clover ground cover, lots of large rocks, platforms, branches. I'd worry about the wood chip chunks getting ingested and like the burrowing/digging ability of the soil anyway. Your dragon may want a cool damp place to escape in a really hot day. The screen/fabric bottom would keep him from digging out and allow drainage too, a tarp may collect moisture and encourage mold/fungus growth. I wouldn't bother sterilizing anything that goes out in the yard honestly, it's just going to get recolonized with critters and flora anyway - some of them are pretty good helpers to help keep the mold/fungus at bay anyway.

Plants - dragon food basically. There are some edible succulents I might try too, but mostly greens (mustard, turnip, kale, collards) and edible veggies/flowers. Pepper liked pea sprouts and nasturtiums - the peas might be encouraged to grow for some shade plants as well. Maybe some mint and oregano - if grows like weeds in my garden.
 

dragonlover4774

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Original Poster
I'm thinking of doing a thing similar to what tortoise owners do where they have a wooden box full of hay or a bunch of towels. I'm leaning towards hay because then my beardie can burrow down in it. My size is probably going to be around 6 ft by 4 ft by 5.5 ft so if I ever get a male beardie, I can put in a divider. And none of the platforms will be 6 ft high, its just so people can walk in comfortably so I can do maintenance. I'm a little worried about the fireflies myself, but I'm putting in a fine mesh layer on the outside to prevent any of them getting in. We have really clayish soil here in Cincy, so I'll have to buy too. I might, because of the height of my enclosure, slide in a hibiscus with strategically placed platforms around it so the beardies can munch while basking.
 

Taterbug

BD.org Addict
That sounds really neat. Please share pictures when you build it!

Would the hay be the substrate? Wouldn't that mold?
 

dragonlover4774

Member
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No, just for the hide box. It wont be getting wet, in theory, at least. The beardie is supposed to go in the hay box during nights where she can burrow down and sleep. I thought it would be stimulating for her to be able to burrow in to sleep, and it'll keep her warm. I know tortoise owners that use a similar strategy, so why not beardies? I don't think the alfafa hay is bad for the beardies, so she should be OK.
 
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