Exo Terra Desert Habitat Kit Review

The Exo Terra Desert Habitat Starter Kit is ideal for beginner reptile keepers, experienced breeders, and those looking for a hospital or quarantine terrarium.

The kit comes with all the components needed to complete your set up and welcome your reptile.

From the excellent ventilation to reduce humidity for desert reptiles to the ease of maintenance, decorations, and more, you will find this kit is an easy way to welcome your desert reptile home with confidence.

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  • The kit includes almost everything you need to set up your terrarium
  • Save money by purchasing the kit rather than buying items individually
  • Competitively priced
  • Arrives in one box, saving time by not having to shop around for all the items
  • Available in small and medium


  • Light bulb not included
  • Metal screen ventilation lid tends to rust

Design and Features

The Exo Terra Desert Habitat Kit is available in two convenient sizes:

  • Small – 12” x 12” x 12”
  • Medium – 18” x 18” x 18”

Included in the kit you will find:

Exo Terra Natural Terrarium with Rock Background

The natural terrarium offers front window ventilation with dual doors to reduce the risk of escape and offer easy access to the tank for cleaning and feeding.

The raised base is waterproof and the terrarium includes a stainless steel mesh cover, which improves ventilation and reduces the risk of humidity, while allowing excellent light and UV penetration.

The natural terrarium includes locks to prevent escape with an easy twist lock on the screen cover.

There are five closable cut outs in the back for any tubing and wires, helping you keep the enclosure looking tidy.

The rock terrarium background included is an easy to cut background that offers a natural look to start your enclosure design.

The background helps to create a multi dimensional habitat for climbing reptiles.

The color and texture match the natural decorations to create a natural dry environment for your desert pet.

Exo Terra Compact Fluorescent Terrarium Canopy

This fluorescent terrarium canopy is designed for use with the Exo Terra glass terrarium.

It is very easy to install and accommodates low wattage incandescent bulbs and fluorescent bulbs.

A combination of lights can be used to create an ideal environment for your reptile pet.

The compact top comes with a built-in reflector and a sliding rim to mount any accessories.

Analog Hygrometer

The analog hygrometer included in the kit helps you monitor humidity levels, ensuring you obtain the right percentage for your pet. The analog hygrometer is easy to read and install.

Analog Thermometer

The analog thermometer is essential to your terrarium set up and maintenance, ensuring you maintain accurate temperatures for your pet. The analog thermometer is easy to install and read.

Water Dish

The natural-looking water dish blends seamlessly into your terrarium design.

It is very easy to clean and comes with steps to reduce the risk of drowning.

The non-porous good grade resin reduces the risk of bacteria and is stable, making it hard for larger reptiles to tip the water dish over.

The water dish from Exo Terra offers a rock finish with a non-pitted surface.

Reptile Cave

The natural look reptile cave can be integrated into your desert theme with ease, offering a secure hiding place that helps to reduce stress and give your reptile the privacy it may need from time to time.

This stable reptile cave cannot be tipped and offers proper hiding that is safe. The cave has a realistic pebble design with a large hiding volume.

Rock Outcrops / Secure Hiding Cave

The Exo Terra rock outcrop offers the opportunity to create a three-dimensional habitat.

The shape fits into the enclosure seamlessly offering small spaces that can be used for basking and hiding to prevent stress.

The realistic rock look offers a basking area closer to UV bulbs. It offers multiple entries, is stable, and very easy to clean.

Small Barrel Cactus

The desert ground plant included in the kit is extremely realistic and looks like a real plant in a desert setting.

This replica is easy to clean, can be used along with real plants if you want to create a bioactive enclosure and offers a natural hiding place to prevent stress.

The plant is perfect for sterile setups, such as beginner tanks, breeding enclosures, and quarantine terrariums.

Desert Sand

Exo Terra Desert Sand is natural desert sand that does not include dyes or chemicals.

The sand is sifted and impurities removed. The sand helps to create a natural environment that stimulates natural burrowing and egg-laying. Sand is also an excellent heat conductor.

The downside is that sand increases the risk of impaction, where your reptile accidentally digests the sand, which can cause serious health complications.

Instruction Manual

The instruction manual included in the kit includes detailed information on setting up the enclosure, maintaining and long term care to ensure the best natural habitat for your reptile pet.

Accessories and Parts

While this value for money Exo Terra Desert Starter Kit includes just about everything you need to set up your terrarium and introduce your new pet, you will still need to consider some additional parts and accessories to complete your installation.

This includes:


Due to the fact that reptiles all have different lighting and heating requirements, the compact fluorescent bulb is not included in the kit and must be purchased separately.

Repti Glo 2.0

This bulb is suitable for nocturnal animals including toads, salamanders and frogs, along with numerous snake species.

Repti Glo 10.0

This bulb is suitable for diurnal desert species, including lizards, frogs, and more. It is not suitable for snakes.

Exo Terra Digital Hygrometer with Probe

This Exo Terra digital hygrometer is an accurate humidity monitor that operates with a single button. The hygrometer comes with a remote senor along with the minimum and maximum memory.

This hygrometer is very easy to read and provides accurate readings.

Exo Terra Digital Thermometer with Probe

The digital thermometer from Exo Terra offers an accurate temperature with a single button operation and remote sensor. Get your temperature reading in Celsius or Fahrenheit.

Reptile Carpet

Sand is not recommended for any reptile as they can accidentally ingest it when eating, which leads to impaction. When it comes to substrate a reptile carpet is a safer option, such as the Exo Terra sand mat.

The sand mat has multiple sizes and comes as one carpet which you can cut to fit the base of your enclosure. The soft carpet is suitable for a variety of reptiles, protecting their claws and skin.

The reptile carpet is resistant to dirt, very easy to clean and durable.

Simply give the carpet a shake, rinse with water, hang to dry, and place back in the enclosure.

Related – Read our Exo Terra sand mat review here.


The setup of the Exo Terra Desert Habitat Starter Kit is quick and easy, involving simple to follow steps.

  1. Clean the terrarium before starting, ensuring any dust and dirt is removed.
  2. Add your desert sand or reptile carpet, depending on what you have selected.
  3. Place your water bowl on the cooler side of the terrarium.
  4. Put your hide with basking area on the warm side of the enclosure
  5. Place your reptile hide on the cooler side, offering a cool place for your reptile to hide and regulate their temperature.
  6. Add any other décor you have, such as plants.
  7. Put your fluorescent bulb into the canopy lid and place it over the screen cover.
  8. Place your hygrometer and thermometer and turn everything on.
  9. Monitor to ensure you have the right temperatures before introducing your reptile.


You will want to carry out some daily spot cleaning and monthly deep cleaning to ensure you provide the best care for your pet.


Spot check enclosure daily and remove any feces and uneaten food. Remove any damp patches in the substrate. Wash and disinfect water and food bowls daily.


Place your pet in another enclosure.

Remove all the décor from the enclosure and clean with reptile disinfectant, rinse and allow to dry.

Remove all the substrate.

If you have used sand, you will want to replace the sand.

If you have chosen reptile carpet, clean as per instructions and allow to dry.

Wipe inside of the glass to ensure clean.

Once all items are dry return to the tank, turn everything on, and ensure your temperature and humidity levels are met before returning your reptile to their enclosure.

Is This Product Good Value?

Overall, the kit is good value. You can buy most of the items you need in one box, which saves you valuable time, energy, and money. You don’t have to waste money on additional shipping purchasing items separately.

Not all the items are the best quality, such as the hygrometer and thermometer, where digital varieties are recommended.

The sand is not recommended and should be replaced with a reptile carpet for added peace of mind.

Who Should Buy?

The Exo Terra Desert Habitat Starter Kit can be used for a variety of desert reptiles, while the enclosure remains suitable for beginner pet owners, breeders, and those looking for an easy hospital tank on a limited budget.

The small kit is suitable for:

  • Yucatán Banded Gecko (Coleonyx elegans)
  • Northern sand gecko / Tripoli gecko (Tropiocolotes tripolitanus)
  • Side-blotched lizard (Uta stansburiana)
  • Short-fingered Gecko (DescriptionStenodactylus sthenodactylus)
  • Carrot-tail viper gecko (Teratolepis fasciata)

The medium kit is best suited for:

  • Ocelot gecko (Paroedura pictus)
  • Leopard gecko (Eublepharis macularius)
  • Shield-tailed agama (Xenagama taylori)
  • East African spiny-tailed lizard (Cordylus tropidosternum)
  • Schneider’s skink / Berber skink (Eumeces schneideri)


This Exo Terra desert kit is a great starter kit for new hobbyists and experienced reptile owners. The kit offers value for money solutions, combined with high quality and convenience.

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