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Zilla Desert Starter Kit Review

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The Zilla Desert Starter Kit comes in two sizes: a 10L and a 20L enclosure and is designed specifically for house desert dwelling reptiles. It comes complete with light fixtures, lighting, screen cover, thermometer/hygrometer, terrarium lining, and an instruction manual to help you set up quickly. While this product proves useful for the beginner hobbyist that needs to purchase a terrarium and all the necessary accessories, there are still many products you will need to purchase to complete your habitat set up.

Pros

  • Available in two sizes, suitable for desert dwelling reptiles
  • Odor fighting terrarium liner, nonabrasive
  • Glass tank made in the USA
  • Reflective domes for heat and light
  • Screen cover to reduce the risk of escape and make cleaning and setting up easy
  • Complete with set up guide to help you get started

Cons

  • Does not include UVB lighting, which is essential for many desert dwelling reptiles, such as bearded dragons
  • Water and feeding dish not included
  • Basking platform and ornaments not included
  • Dome is very small and does not work with many other branded bulbs
  • Not suitable for all desert reptiles, such as bearded dragons which require a minimum of a 40-gallon breeder enclosure

Design and Features

The kit is complete with the basic items needed to set up your desert habitat. The kit includes a variety of items, including:

Critter Cage Enclosures

The kit offers two sized terrariums, a ten and twenty liter, ensuring you can secure the right size for your reptilian pet. This is a popular glass terrarium made in the United States, suitable for reptiles and small animals. It offers a top screen to reduce escape and offer excellent access to set up and maintain the enclosure. Cords and cables can be tucked away neatly in the wiring ports to keep the enclosure neat and tidy.

The mesh top ensures excellent ventilation, essential to reduce humidity levels for desert species.

Solid Screen Cover

The solid screen cover that comes with the Zilla Desert Starter Kit ensures excellent airflow and ventilation, helping to ensure your reptile remains happy and healthy. The metal mesh screen is durable and allows excellent light penetration while being removable for easy access. The steel frame ensures the screen retains its shape for many years to come.

Zilla Halogen Mini Dome

The Zilla Halogen Mini Dome is an alternative to the regular dome in that it is smaller, taking up less space on top of your enclosure. Even though it is a small size, it can provide powerful heat and light as needed to ensure your reptile remains happy and comfortable. Each unit has a reflective aluminum inside and a spring-mounted clip, which helps to keep the dome in place. The dome comes with a six-foot power cord, complete with on and off switch. It works with the mini halogen light bulbs, providing a low compact design.

Zilla Incandescent Spot Bulbs

The Zilla Desert Start Kit comes with incandescent spot bulbs that are designed to work with the Zilla Halogen Mini Dome. The spot bulbs pinpoint the light and heat where you want it to create a dramatic visual effect. Heat lamps are focused in warm zones, providing an essential heat source. The bulbs will stimulate daytime sun for basking with a heavy-duty filament that will provide hours of performance.

Humidity and Temperate Gauge

Monitoring temperature and humidity is essential when it comes to your desert terrarium set up. The gauges provided will measure relative humidity up to one hundred percent and temperatures ranging from 60ºF to 120ºF / 16ºC to 49ºC.  The gauge is bright and easy to read and can be mounted in seconds using the suction cups provided. Read temperatures and humidity with a glance with this no batteries required.

Terrarium Liner

The terrarium liner supplied can simply be rolled out to provide a brown carpet which can be cut to size to fit the enclosure perfectly. This liner provides a natural base for your desert design. The carpet is made from an absorbent and non-abrasive material that is biodegradable and reduces the risk of unwelcome odors. Cleaning is quick and easy, simply rinse and reuse. This is a low maintenance bedding, ideal for junior reptiles and beginner reptile owners, making maintenance quick and easy.

Setup Guide

The setup guide helps you put your desert enclosure together in a few quick and easy steps. The setup guide offers a step by step guide you can count on when setting up a terrarium for the very first time.

Parts and Accessories

While the kit does provide a basic starter kit for a desert species, it doesn't provide everything you need. There are still a few other items you will need to purchase to complete your set up and make your terrarium comfortable for your reptile pet.

Zoo Med Labs Digital Thermometer Humidity Gauge

It is essential that you have access to accurate temperature readings and humidity levels. The digital display is much easier to read than the analog version which comes with the kit. This digital display is recommended as it is quick and easy to read, it comes with a separate probe, which is waterproof, enabling you to pinpoint the area you want to monitor, such as your basking area. The gauge arrives with battery included, so simply switch on and use.

18 Inch T8 Zilla Slimline 50 UVB Desert Fixture

Zilla recommends their Slimline tropical feature which includes a T8 fluorescent with UVB output, making it ideal for Anoles, geckos, chameleons, and Chinese Water Dragons. The fixture and bulb come in one convenient package with a UVB output that can promote health and reduce the risk of calcium deficiency in your reptile. The bulb simulates natural daylight.

Zilla Fresh Air Non-Locking Screen Clips

The Zilla Fresh Air Non-Locking Screen Clips are recommended to reduce the risk of your pet pushing the screen top off and escaping. It also reduces the risk of children opening the enclosure. The clips secure the screen top in place to improve security. The spring steel hooks on and snaps free with ease. The clips are suitable for enclosures of twenty-nine gallons and smaller. The package contains two clips. No complex installation. Slip the top of the clip into the top molding on the screen cover and snap in place.

BN-LINK Indoor Mini 24-Hour Mechanical Outlet Timer

Ensuring you provide your reptile with the right amount of heat and light is essential to their overall health. In order to ensure you turn the lights on and off at the same time daily, you will find that an outlet timer can be very beneficial. The Indoor mini 24-hour mechanical outlet timer comes in a pack of two, so you will have a backup. It's very easy to use and enables you to choose your schedule with a twenty-four-hour timer. There are forty-eight on and off settings per day over a twenty-four-hour cycle. Compatible with LED and fluorescent lighting.

Zilla Basking Platform Ramp

The majority of desert reptiles need the sun to improve their ability to absorb calcium, reducing mineral deficiency and health issues. To ensure that your reptile feels at home in their enclosure, you want to provide them with heat, UVB rays, and a way to soak up the essential UV that they need. The Zilla Desert Starter Kit does not come with any hides or accessories to help your reptile bask in the sunlight. The Zilla Basking Platform Ramp offers a hide, where your reptile can hide under to feel secure and a great basking area, where they can lie and soak up the heat. The Zilla Basking Platform is handcrafted from realistic rock, which is quick and easy to clean. The basking platform measures 11.75” x 4.5” x 3.5”.

Zilla Kidney Bowl Terrarium Dish

The kit doesn't come with a way to feed or provide water for your reptile. The Zilla Kidney Bowl Terrarium Dish comes in a two-pack. These are attractive to blend in with the environment with a glossy finish. Easy to clean, the ceramic bowl is heavy to reduce the risk of tipping. The low sidewalls make the bowl easily accessible.

Installation

The Zilla Desert Starter Kit can be set up quickly and easily. Follow these steps for a simple set up:

  1. Wash the glass tank and allow it to dry.
  2. Place in the final chosen position
  3. Cut the liner to size and place in the bottom of the terrarium
  4. Install your humidity and temperature gauge where it is easy to see and read in a glance
  5. If you have purchased any accessories, you can place them in your enclosure now. Take into consideration you will want a cool and warm side to the terrarium. Place your hide/basking platform on the hot side, under where you intend place your UVB light.
  6. Secure your screen top in place, using the clips (if you decided to purchase separately)
  7. Place your bulbs into the reflector dome and clip in place. Remember your heat lamp must be on the warm side of the enclosure, directly above your basking platform.
  8. Turn on the lights and allow time to heat the terrarium. Check temperature and humidity before introducing your desert animal.

Is This Product Good Value?

This is a very basic starter kit, but it's affordable if you are working on a tight budget.

What I Like About the Kit

  • Available in two sizes
  • Includes the basics, which can save you money
  • Good quality glass terrarium

What I Don't Like About the Kit

  • Very basic kit
  • You will need to purchase accessories to complete your design
  • There are other slightly more expensive kits on the market will offer you more accessories and items to complete your design.

Who Should Buy This Zilla Starter Kit?

The Zilla Desert Starter Kit is suitable for beginner reptile owners, breeders who need additional breeding tanks, and someone that needs an urgent hospital tank.

The kit is suitable for:

  • Anoles
  • Geckos
  • Chameleons
  • Very young bearded dragon, though it will outgrow the enclosure very quickly and need to upgrade to a minimum of a fifty-five gallon.

Zilla Desert Starter Kit Review in Summary

Quality - 80%

Decent quality, though some items you will want to upgrade soonest, such as your thermometer and hygrometer.

Ease of Use - 95%

Very quick and easy installation.

Value for Money - 70%

You still need to purchase accessories to complete your design.

82%

Overall, the Zilla Desert Starter Kit is fine if you are looking for a basic set up at an affordable price. Bear in mind that you will need to purchase your accessories separately.

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