What is the best Tarantula substrate? Top 5 in 2020

What is the best tarantula substrate

Over the past few years there has been a lot of debate on what is the best tarantula substrate.

Tarantula keeping has transformed over the years. As a result, we have become more enlightened about the dos and donts of tarantula keeping.

The use of tarantula substrate is a controversial subject. Tarantula keepers cannot agree on which substrate is the best. Some suggest the use of one type while others prefer to mix things up.

Finding the right information can however be tasking. We have therefore put in many hours of research to try and find the best tarantula substrate.

Here is our top pick of tarantula substrate that most tarantula keepers use. Our selection is based on feedback from previous buyers, their features, ratings on Amazon, several hours of YouTube videos and what we use with our tarantulas.

Summary table of best tarantula substrate

SubstrateImageKey features
Zoo med eco earth coconut fiberMade from Eco-friendly renewable resources hence safe
Naturally absorbs and breaks down odor and waste products
Soft and water absorbent
Expandable
Recyclable and compostable
Resistant to mold
Zoo med forest floor beddingMade of natural cypress mulch
Retains humidity in the enclosure
Designed for use in amphibians, snakes and tropical species including tarantulas
Affordable
Easy to clean
Does not mold
Exo Terra forest plume mossMade from natural forest moss
Contains no chemicals or dyes
Extremely absorbent
Good for burrowing and digging animals
Affordable
VermiculiteAbsorbent
Affordable
Easily available in garden stores
Tends to resist mold
TopsoilPacks down well hence good for burrowing species
Affordable
Easily available
Good for burrowing species

What is the best tarantula substrate?

There are several good tarantula substrates available in the market. Each has its advantages and disadvantages. This is our top pick.

You can use them solely or in combination, whatever suits your T.

1. Zoo Med Eco Earth Loose Coconut Fiber

best substrate for tarantula

The Zoo Med Eco Earth loose coconut fiber is one of my favorite substrates. It is one of the many coco coir substrates available in the market.

This substrate is made from the husks of coconut which are compounded and packaged either as blocks or loose coco coir.

The Zoo Med Eco Earth Loose Coconut Fiber is ideal for all types of pets including amphibians, reptiles, small mammals and insects including tarantulas. This product is designed for pets that require specific humidity levels in their environments.

Additionally, the  Zoo Med coco coir is made from Eco-friendly renewable resources making it safe for your tarantula. It also naturally absorbs and breaks down odor leaving behind an earthy smell.

Lastly, this coco coir is soft and absorbs moisture easily. It is therefore suitable for burrowing pets making it favorable for terrestrial tarantulas.

Eco earth coconut fiber substrate is also easy to maintain and replace. You can spot clean as needed, it is recommended to replace this substrate at-least once every 6 months.

To use it for your tarantula, you can use it solely or mix with other substrates such as sand, topsoil or vermiculite to form a substrate with your desired consistency.

Key features
  • Made from Eco-friendly renewable resources hence safe for tarantulas
  • Naturally absorbs and breaks down odor and waste products
  • Soft and water absorbent
  • Expandable
  • Recyclable and compostable
Pros
  • Excellent for pets requiring high humidity
  • Excellent for burrowing species
  • Readily absorbs water
  • Seems resistant to mold
  • Absorbs and breaks down odor
  • Easy to maintain and replace
Cons
  • Can be messy
  • Bricks take long to absorb water during re-hydration
  • Re-hydrated substrate requires drying before being used which can take a while.
  • Becomes fluffy when dry and difficult for burrowing species to make their homes
  • Dries out quickly.

Check price on Amazon here.

2. Zoo Med Forest Floor Bedding

Best substrate for tarantulaZoo Med forest floor bedding is a natural cypress mulch substrate.

It is designed to give the terrarium a natural forest look while maintaining moisture, providing humidity to the enclosure. It is therefore excellent for snakes, amphibian or tropical species including tarantulas.

Additionally, the Zoo Med Forest floor bedding is made from natural cypress which is good at holding humidity making it suitable for use with tarantulas.

You can mix it with other substrates such as vermiculite or top soil to get your desired consistency.

Key features
  • Made of natural cypress mulch
  • Retains humidity in the enclosure
  • Designed for use in amphibians, snakes and tropical species including tarantulas
  • Available in 4 sizes.
Pros
  • Made of natural cypress mulch hence safe for tarantulas
  • It absorbs and retains moisture easily keeping the terrarium humid
  • Affordable
  • Does not mold
  • Easy to clean
Cons
  • Tarantula waste may blend in with the substrate
  • May tend to dry easily

Check price on Amazon here.

3. Exo Terra Forest Plume Moss

Best substrate for tarantulaExo Terra Forest Plume Moss is made from compressed natural forest moss grown in tropical Asia. This substrate is designed to increase humidity in the terrarium.

It is made from natural moss. Additionally it does not contain chemicals or dyes. This substrate is therefore safe for use with tarantulas, frogs, salamanders and other burrowing animals.

Additionally, the Exo Terra Forest Plume Moss is extremely absorbent which makes it favorable for use with tarantulas.

Use it with other substrates like vermiculite or top soil to achieve your desired consistency.

Key features
  • Made from natural forest moss
  • Contains no chemicals or dyes
  • Extremely absorbent
  • Good for burrowing and digging animals
Pros
  • Affordable
  • Extremely absorbent
Cons
  • Tends to develop molds

Check price on Amazon here.

Best substrate to use as additives

1. Vermiculite

Best substrate for tarantulaMost tarantula owners back in the day used to keep tarantulas on 100% vermiculite.

Vermiculite is a mineral substrate that has great potential to absorb moisture.

We recommend using vermiculite as an additive. Personally I mix it with coco coir as it tends to keep moisture well.

Do not overdo the vermiculite since it tends to make the substrate fluffy.

Key features
  • Absorbs moisture very well
Pros
  • Affordable
  • Easily available in garden stores
  • Tends to resist mold
Cons
  • Tends to make substrate fluffy if used in large quantities
  • Tarantulas do not like standing on this substrate.

Check price on Amazon here.

2. Topsoil

Best substrate for tarantulaTop soil is another good substrate that can used for tarantulas.

Scotts Topsoil is a blend of organic matter and peat moss. The peat moss gives it an absorbent property making it able to retain humidity hence good for use as a substrate.

You can use it alone or as an additive to other substrates such as coco coir or forest moss.

If you decide to use topsoil, make sure that it is organic and contains no additives such as fertilizers.

Top soil has a tendency to have mites, I usually put my topsoil in the refrigerator or in the oven before using it.

Key features
  • Packs down well hence good for burrowing species
Pros
  • Affordable
  • Easily available
  • Good for burrowing species
Cons
  • Heavy if used as the only substrate
  • Retains water hence has the tendency to form puddles if you use too much water

Check price on Amazon here.

Read this article on best substrate for burrowing tarantulas to find out more.

Substrates to avoid

There are several substrates that are not good for tarantulas. We cannot possibly mention all the bad substrates but we will list a few worth mentioning.

Generally avoid substrates with;

  • Additives such as fertilizers.
  • Jagged sticks which can potentially harm your tarantula
  • Substrates that tend to form puddles with water such as aquarium gravel
  • Substrates made from pine or cedar products at they are believed to be potentially toxic to tarantulas.

What substrate should you avoid?

1.      Bark chips – bark chips are available in many pet stores. They do not absorb moisture well. Furthermore, bark chips have a tendency to form mold when in humid environments for long. As a result, they are not ideal for tarantulas. Additionally terrestrial tarantulas would not be able to make burrows in this substrate.

2.      Sand – Sand does not hold water well and burrows made in sand have a tendency to collapse. This makes it unfavorable for use as tarantula substrate. It can however be used as an additive but in very small quantities.

3.      Gravel – Gravel absorbs no moisture thus is not suitable for use as tarantula substrate. Additionally tarantulas do not love standing on gravel. You can add some gravel however to your substrate to make the terrarium look good.

4.      Corn cob granules – Corn cob granules grow mold easily and as such are not good for use as tarantula substrate. Additionally, corn cob granules do not look good on the terrarium.

There are several  good substrates available in the market. We recommend using the coco coir from Zoo Med due to its absorbent capacity. Furthermore it is made from Eco-friendly material and absorbs and breaks down odor. You can mix it with other additive substrates such as vermiculite for moisture retention or topsoil to add bulkiness.

Read also the Basic Tarantula Care Sheet.

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