ssscales March 3, 2012 2

We always get asked and read questions being posted on forums and social networks around substrate/bedding. Which is better, which should be used, which do others prefer, etc, etc?

Simple answer is, there is no right or wrong, or one simple answer. It all depends on what you are using it for, your individual space (environment, ambient, humidity needs, etc, etc), and also personal preference of yours and the individual animal. In this case Ball Pythons, some could care less what they are on, some seem to do better on Shredded Aspen, some better on Cypress Mulch, etc. Me personally I prefer if possible a paper substrate like Kraft Indented Paper or un-printed newspaper for ease of cleaning, but again it’s not just what YOU want, but you need to take into consideration and pay attention to what your snakes needs are.

For this write up we will touch base on four substrates:
Kraft Indented Paper
Cypress Mulch
Shredded Aspen

Kraft Indented Paper:
We’ll start out with my personal preference, which is the paper substrate Kraft Indented Paper. I prefer a paper substrate because I’m not much for spot cleaning. Spot cleaning is when you spot clean your enclosures as needed, the snake poops and you clean that area only. I prefer to clean and sanitize the entire enclosure with each incident because snakes have a tendency to spread urates and other messes around at times. Simply treating an area does not at times guarantee a clean environment for your snakes. I use Kraft paper mainly for my CB70 tubs whenever possible.

Easy clean up.
Depending on personal preference requires entire enclosure cleaning at each incident.

Does not lend itself to providing humidity well as other substrates.
depending on personal preference requires entire enclosure cleaning at each incident.

Cost appx $21/360ft roll

Cypress Mulch:
Cypress Mulch is a popular one, especially if you need a little assistance with maintaining humidity. I tend to use Cypress Mulch during the colder/dryer months and I’m using a room heater which tends to dry out the air, or any time I need or want a little more humidity during sheds. Cypress Mulch holds water and releases humidity much better and longer than the other substrates being listed here.

Assist when you need a little more humidity based on your needs.
Allows for spot cleaning if that is your preference.

Could be too much humidity if and when you don’t need it.

Home Depot, Lowes, Wal-Mart in the gardening area.
Cost $2.00 for a large bag.

Shredded Aspen:
Shredded Aspen is a favorite bedding of mine, especially for babies and sub-adults. This is the substrate I mainly use for my Ball pythons. Babies seems to start better on aspen vs paper at times. Shredded Aspen does lend itself to spot cleaning, but I prefer to dump it and clean/sanitize the tub with each incident as needed. It’s really a good overall bedding and while you can mist it during sheds if needed, it does tend to mold if wet too much or too often. If you need higher humidity, Cypress Mulch is better for you. You may have read about snakes possibly ingesting the Aspen and that being a concern. Can it happen, sure. Can you get hit by lightening walking outside, sure. It can happen, not saying it can’t, but it’s not something I would lay awake worried about. Snakes have been kept on aspen for decades and incidents leading to problems are very-very rare. Again, I would not lose sleep over this.

Easy to clean, nice soft bedding.

Does not hold humidity well, tends to mold if wet, some brands very high in dust.

Depends on brands and locations, I use Harlan Shredded Aspen 9cu ft bag at a cost of $16.00/bag.
Cost depends on brand and location but expect $5-$20 a bag.

One product I have read about for years has been Sani-Chips. Which is basically Aspen cut into small very fine squares. For many years I have read and heard from others that have and so use it and some love it, some hate it mainly because it tends to get everywhere. I have just started to try this product personally and will be able to provide my personal experience on it in time. Sani-Chips are very fine, almost feels like sand a bit, very soft. Same positives and negatives as Shredded Aspen, except if the rare possibility of ingesting Shredded aspen is too much for you, than Sani-Chips is a better option for you. I decided to try it because many times I have been asked about it and up until now could only provide info based on feedback from others. I have set aside a hatchling and sub-adult rack to try out the Sani-Chips for 3MO and will provide further feedback at that time.

Close up shot:


TBD, but so far I can already see the cost is more per usage vs shredded aspen. I can also see the potential for the chips to be pulled into the vents, especially when breeding, potential for infections is an area for concern. But again, how possible or often is this a concern is unknown. Based on this I don’t see myself using the Sani-Chips, but we we’ll see.

Varies, but I use the Harlan brand and cost is appx $16/bag of 2.2 cu ft.


  1. Nate March 4, 2013 at 7:49 pm -

    So, do you really have to have a extra cage to feed your snake in. And if so do have to have the same temperature or nothing.

  2. ssscales March 5, 2013 at 12:55 am -

    LOL…absolutely not that whole feeding in separate tubs is a myth created by newbies that have no idea what they are doing or talking about. Only people that don’t know better feed their snakes in separate enclosures, don’t listen to those people..LOL

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