Is MDF Safe For Bearded Dragons? We Found Out

Bearded dragons are very tender animals that need our care and protection once we take them home. These pets are wonderful and you will love them. But you have to be very careful with all your choices. We mean, not only choices of food but also all choices that can change the conditions for your beardie.

Today, we’ll tell you about the MDF and its safety for bearded dragons. We’ll also tell you how to prepare the MDF for being part of your beardie’s enclosure. This is not complicated at all, you just need to know some facts about these animals and this material. Also, you should be careful with any other materials that you may use for building the enclosure or any decorations for it.

Here is what we’ll tell you about:

  1. Is it safe to use MDF in a bearded dragon’s enclosure?
  2. What can damage your MDF units in a beardie’s enclosure?
  3. How to prepare MDF for being placed in a beardie’s vivarium?
  4. What can cause some problems?

Let’s get started!

Is MDF safe for bearded dragons?

In short, yes, MDF is completely safe for your reptiles. But of course, you should consider some possible issues. First of all, not all things made of MDF are OK for a terrarium. Some of them will be a bad idea because they can fall apart because of harsh conditions and your bearded dragon may just swallow some parts of MDF. This is not going to be good.

Also, MDF can be toxic. It depends on the components that the manufacturer of a certain material used. For example, some MDF manufacturers use glues that may release some fumes when wet or when heated. Unfortunately, it’s hard to check when you are just holding a piece of MDF in your hands.

So, here are some considerations you should bear in mind:

  1. We think you should only buy expensive MDF for any objects in your viv. If you buy cheap materials, you may get some toxic fumes and this will lead to some problems with the health of your pet.
  2. Your material should be waterproof. But you know that MDF is basically the pressed cardboard. So, it can’t be completely waterproof. You will need to think about sealing the material before putting it into a vivarium.
  3. Open connections. If you have any open places where MDF can be bitten off, your curious beardie will eventually bite it off and chew. You will be lucky if the beardie doesn’t like the smell or taste of MDF.
  4. Some parts of your terrarium are going to have a heat lamp. It means that some heat will always have an impact on the surface of MDF. You need to make sure it doesn’t produce any fumes or smell when heated.
  5. Be careful with preparing MDF before putting it into your terrarium. Sealing is important. Some bearded dragon owners will even paint MDF with some sealing paint or other materials to avoid problems with water and humidity.
  6. Quality of connections. Your MDF unit should be made to last. Bearded dragons are quite tough guys and they can destroy anything. If they feel that a certain unit in their terrarium is quite shabby, they can take it apart and even eat some parts of it.

These are quite important facts you should know about the things made of MDF for your terrarium with a bearded dragon. But of course, this list is not full. We can continue and the most important point would be the personality of your beardie. While some bearded dragons are very calm and easy-going, some others are aggressive and active.

Always think about whether your bearded dragon can chew the thing you put into the terrarium. The dragon’s enclosure should be pet-friendly if we can say so. And every thing you put into the enclosure should be prepared to contact a reptile.

Sealing the MDF-made things

Avoid using unsealed things in your terrarium. Usually, the bearded dragon’s enclosure should be warm and with high humidity. Any wooden materials will not survive long in these conditions. MDF will be just dissolved in water if a lot of water will always be on the surface.

So, you will have to seal the unit. For this, it’s important to use appropriate materials. For example, pure silicon will be OK. Also, some special sealants made for reptile enclosures will be safe. But if the sealant has some odor, it may be chewed by your reptile.

Unsealed MDF is OK in those cases only when the terrarium is quite dry. But even if a beardie will lie on MDF, it can influence the condition of the thing. You just have to use some sealants to avoid problems in the future.

Some people even use waterproof varnish or some other materials to cover all MDF parts and to avoid any problems with water and humidity. We think you should seal just the connections where MDF can be easily dissolved and damaged by water.

Dust problems – consider them!

One more problem you should consider is that MDF may contain a lot of fine dust. When manufacturers produce some things of MDF, they cut it with special equipment. This creates fine dust which then rests on MDF and on connections. Sometimes, the dust isn’t cleaned properly and the thing is just sent to the enclosure.

This is a dangerous situation because of different factors:

  • this dust may contain not only parts of cardboard but also glue and other materials that can be dangerous for your beardie;
  • also, this MDF dust may be slowly released into the air – your bearded dragon will breathe it in and keep in its unprotected lungs;
  • the dust can be eaten by a beardie, and this will cause some other problems including poisoning or choking;
  • sometimes, this fine dust may cause problems even after your reptile lies on it – it can cause a kind of allergy.

It’s important to clean the decorations or other things you are going to put in the enclosure. Otherwise, your pet may have some problems and you will have to take it to a vet or just take care of it. But why? You may just avoid problems if you check MDF before letting your beardie contact with it.

What are some alternatives to MDF for the terrarium?

Whatever people say, we still think that MDF is not the best material for a vivarium. You will have problems trying to prepare it for putting safely in your terrarium. Also, you will always have the risks that your pet will want to eat it. And once you understand that a beardie likes chewing on your new decoration, you will have to take it out.

We’ve tried to think about good alternatives that you can use instead of MDF. And yes, they are not so convenient to use. They are not so good in terms of practical side and maybe price, but they are also safe and optimal in terms of long-term use.

Here is what we’ve found:

  1. You can use different wood species and have basically no restrictions in using these materials in your terrarium. Also, you will have the opportunity to cut different decorations of any shape and keep them for years in your viv.
  2. Industrially manufactured decorations. We don’t recommend using cheap decorations for your viv because you can get dangerous and poisonous things easily. But some more expensive options are really good and you will not have to worry much about their safety.
  3. Be careful – you will need to seal these decorations very thoroughly to make them safer for your reptile, but they have some important advantages. For example, you can get any shape and size of the decorations.
  4. Sometimes, plastic things are more durable and safer than any other. But this plastic should be food grade and it shouldn’t contain any smelly components.

We recommend checking out some professionally made vivarium elements before getting some MDF and making these elements by yourself. It’s important to make all the elements in your vivarium absolutely safe for your animal. If you make a mistake, the reptile can get ill or die. And that’s why we never recommend experimenting with MDF if you don’t know what to do.

Final words

Your task is to make a safe and beautiful place for your bearded dragon. Always remember that this animal is very tender and it needs your care. You should take care of it even when you are choosing a special element to add to the enclosure. Don’t make any mistakes in understanding what is actually safe for your reptile.

Once you put something new into the terrarium, always watch your animal. It may start chewing this thing or it may stay away from it. If the behavior of your animal changes, you will have to take the new element out even if you are sure that it’s reptile safe.