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Product Review: Reptile Habitats 4x2x2 Reptile Enclosure

The review below is my honest, unbiased opinion of a Reptile Habitats 4x2x2 Reptile Enclosure that I purchased with my own money. However, because Reptile Supply is a ReptiFiles sponsor, this article still contains some paid links. For details on why ReptiFiles uses paid links and sponsorships, click here.

When shopping for a reptile enclosure, one of the first decisions you need to make (aside from figuring out minimum size, of course) is about your budget. Depending on what you’re willing to pay for a reptile enclosure, there are certain features that you may have to give up. Likewise, if you have certain must-have features in mind for your reptile’s enclosure, that’s going to come at a certain cost. Exact pricing per tier will be relative to other enclosures in that size category.

Here’s what I expect from an average reptile enclosure at each level of investment:

“Budget” Reptile Enclosures

  • may be made of primarily mesh, glass, or PVC
  • PVC panels will be typically thin and flimsy to reduce material cost
  • acrylic doors
  • pieces should be free of major blemishes but may be dirty and/or scuffed
  • may be easily damaged
  • ventilation: if mesh top, mesh is likely to be thin but functional
  • ventilation: should have enough cutouts for adequate ventilation
  • hardware included, tools may or may not be included
  • frame may be somewhat loose (or no frame at all)
  • instructions may or may not be included, likely to be very basic
  • limited longevity potential, likely to break or wear out quickly
  • more functional than attractive
  • color options and other features limited to nonexistent
  • no customer support or quality/longevity guarantee

“Standard” Reptile Enclosures

  • may be made of primarily glass, PVC, or wood
  • PVC panels will be thin but sturdy enough to avoid concern
  • acrylic or polycarbonate doors
  • pieces should be clean and free of minor blemishes (minor scuffs acceptable)
  • resistant to normal levels of wear and tear
  • should have either a sturdy mesh top or above-minimal venting
  • tools and hardware for assembly included, but limited
  • door lock included
  • detailed instructions included with product or available online
  • frame fits snugly without being difficult to assemble
  • long-lasting, should be serviceable for at least 10 years
  • moderately attractive
  • limited options for other colors or additional features
  • good customer support, and basic quality guarantee

“Luxury” Reptile Enclosures

  • may be made of primarily glass, PVC, HDPE, wood, or a combination of materials
  • PVC/HDPE panels will be thick and sturdy
  • glass doors
  • pieces should be immaculate out of the box
  • overall highly resistant to damage
  • complex engineering for ventilation, likely a combination of mesh and cutouts
  • hardware, tools, and other materials for assembly included
  • door lock included
  • may be shipped pre-assembled
  • detailed instructions included with product and available in multiple formats
  • extremely long-lasting, not made to come apart
  • aesthetic is a priority, often looks like home furniture
  • special features to augment functionality: unique shape, built-in fans, smart tech, etc.
  • strong range of options for other colors or additional features
  • excellent customer support and generous quality/longevity guarantee

With these expectations in mind, allow me to introduce the subject of this product review!

Meet the Reptile Habitats 4x2x2 Reptile Enclosure

The Reptile Habitats 4x2x2 PVC Reptile Enclosure (distributed by Dubia.com and Reptile Supply, so you may have heard it referred to as “the Dubia.com enclosure”) is a “budget”-tier reptile housing option that has taken the reptile community by storm. It’s become one of the most frequent 4x2s that I see getting recommended on the forums — which, given the remarkably low price point and aggressive marketing, that’s not much of a surprise.

But here’s the real question: Is there something to the hype surrounding these enclosures, or do people just like them because they’re cheap?

Here’s what the product page says: “Buying an enclosure is an important investment for your pet’s wellbeing. We created this enclosure because we believe that reptile owners should have an economical housing option for their pet. Too many reptiles are kept in inadequately sized enclosures, and one big reason is that enclosures are expensive!”

And here’s what the CEO, Darien Drollinger, has to say about his enclosures: “I would charge [more] but I just don’t feel right doing it. Would rather make big habitats affordable for everyone… We want to stay extremely cost effective but I also hate when there are flaws.”

Intriguing, no? Let’s dive in and give this enclosure a run for its money.

Product Specs

  • Assembled dimensions: 48”L x 24”W x 24”H
  • Substrate dam height: 3 7/8”
  • 6mm thick PVC panels
  • 4mm thick acrylic sliding doors with handles
  • Aluminum frame
  • Coated steel mesh top holds up to 40lbs and rated to resist at least 300°F
  • Weighs 30.5lbs when assembled
  • Rated to hold up to 50lbs of decor
  • Stackable (under certain conditions)
  • Ships flat
  • All necessary tools and hardware included
  • Included: interior lamp assembly kit
  • Included: wire port
  • Color options: black
  • $299 USD* with free shipping
  • Limited return policy

*as of the date of this review

There are multiple sizes and options available for Reptile Habitats enclosures. The enclosure that I reviewed measures 4’L x 2’W x 2’H, but here’s a full list of what is available from Reptile Habitats as of December 2022:

  • 24x18x12 (22 gallons)
  • 36x18x12 (33 gallons)
  • 36x18x18 (50 gallons)
  • 48x24x12 (60 gallons)
  • 48x24x24 (120 gallons)

Discussion

Shipping/Packaging

Things started a bit rough. The time from ordering my enclosure to it actually getting shipped was very slow, as I did pre-order this enclosure back when it was being advertised but not yet available, and thus I had to wait my turn in the queue. However, once my number came up and the order was finalized, shipping itself was incredibly fast — the enclosure took less than a week to arrive at my front door!

The box arrived in surprisingly good condition, and the package was unusually light, which made me excited for the enclosure inside. A 4×2 box is an unwieldy thing under the best of circumstances, but this one was by far the easiest for me to handle by myself.

Unboxing

Out of the box, I noticed that (as expected) the PVC panels were extremely lightweight. However, they were not as flimsy as I expected for an enclosure at this price point. I subjected each to a “wobble test” in which I hold one end of the panel and then shake it to see if I can get it to flex enough to make a “wobble” noise. The 2’ side panels passed this test effortlessly, but the longer, 4’ back and base panels did wobble. To be fair, for such a large sheet of plastic, that’s pretty permissible.

There was only very cosmetic damage (scuffing) and manufacturing dust present on the panels. It’s an unfortunate fact of solid-colored PVC panels that minor defects and fingerprints are more visible than with patterned material. 

The closed-cell PVC material itself is fairly durable and couldn’t be dented easily. This is a problem I’ve run into with budget-tier enclosures in the past, but apparently not here. (Obviously, however, these panels are capable of being damaged if abused.) Furthermore, only 1 out of the 16 panel corners were bent or frayed! This is VERY good for a flat-pack reptile enclosure kit.

Each frame piece was individually protected inside its own plastic sleeve. This isn’t the most low-waste approach to packaging that I’ve ever seen, but it’s definitely helpful in terms of cushioning and preventing cosmetic damage.

The film removes from the acrylic doors very nicely and in one piece, which is something of a point of special attention for me because I’ve had a fair bit of frustration in the past with protective films that tear rather than coming off. That being said, the film does leave a bit of residue which I had to clean off later.

Assembly

Instructions for putting this enclosure together are not included physically with the enclosure, but they are available online here.

As I started putting the enclosure together, the frame came together without excessive resistance. The corner pieces inserted snugly with a few taps with the mallet (once again, I must apologize to my downstairs neighbors!). I can’t say the enclosure will be easy to pull apart for disassembly, but it also should be doable if necessary.

Of course, I appreciated the pre-assembled top. It makes assembly so much easier/faster when part of the enclosure is already put together for you! Plus, I didn’t get poked by a single loose wire when I ran my fingers around the edges to check.

One of the vertical pieces of the frame did have a significant defect: it was dented just enough at the end to obstruct the insertion of the plastic joint piece. Fortunately, aluminum is an easily workable metal, and I was able to use a pair of pliers to re-shape it just enough to get everything to go together without further issue.

The doors install easily. There were no instructions for installing the handles, but it was straightforward enough: notice two holes in each door, find four screws among the provided hardware, and mount the handles as I have with other enclosures. The screws go in well enough by hand, but a Philips screwdriver (not included) would have to be used to tighten them up.

I did have difficulty with the cable port, surprisingly. It was easy enough to screw it, but pulling the two halves apart to get to that point took some fiddling around and a good bit of effort. There was even a diagram in the instructions, so I guess that’s all on me.

Once all was put together, the panels did shift a bit within the frame when the enclosure was moved, not enough to worry me. It was still very much within the range of acceptable for this style of enclosure.

Overall, this enclosure was easy for one person to put together. I timed myself at finishing the whole thing in about 1 hour and 40 minutes — and that was going at a very leisurely pace because I kept having to interrupt the process to inspect the pieces and take notes. Under ordinary circumstances, I’m estimating that this enclosure could reasonable come together in about an hour. (By the way, the website advises: “The enclosure MUST be assembled on a hard surface. Carpet will not work.” But I did manage to assemble it just fine on carpet.)

I should also mention that this enclosure definitely has an above-average aesthetic appeal for something in its price range. Maybe I just like black, but the sleek, minimalist, all-black aesthetic is definitely appreciated. Even my husband went out of his way to comment on how nice the enclosure looks.

Addressing Common Complaints

There are several concerns/complaints I’ve heard about this enclosure, so let’s start by addressing those:

“The coating on the screen is a fire risk — it burns when a heat lamp is placed on top of the enclosure and smells terrible!”

To test this, I first ran two 90w-equivalent Philips PAR38 halogen flood bulbs in a Zoo Med Combo Deep Dome placed top of the mesh of the assembled enclosure in a 68-74°F room for 23-24 hours straight. These bulbs are one of the most commonly used with species kept in 4x2x2 enclosures, such as bearded dragons and blue tongue skinks. The fixture became very hot and the bulbs themselves became very hot. Despite the unusually prolonged use, there was no smell of burning, nor any damage to the mesh whatsoever.

thermal image - philips par38 70w in zoo med combo deep dome

thermal image - philips par38 70w in zoo med combo deep dome, view from below

I happened to have some stronger bulbs on hand, so I decided to give those a try as well in a second attempt to damage the screen as has been reported. This time I used two 100w Philips PAR38 halogen flood bulbs that I use for my uromastyx — a lizard known for enjoying extremely high basking temperatures! These bulbs were installed in a Zoo Med Mini Combo Deep Dome lamp fixture (which, by the way, is only rated for up to 150w, so don’t do this yourself!) that placed the surface of the bulbs within 1” of the screen for roughly 24 hours. The results? Not a trace of burned plastic smell or damaged mesh.

thermal image - philips par38 100w in zoo med combo deep dome

thermal image - philips par38 100w in zoo med combo deep dome, view from below

In other words: damage to the coating on the mesh is only likely to occur if you’re using a very high-wattage bulb AND the bulb is on top of/in direct contact with the mesh rather than an inch or two above it. This is not good practice to begin with, so I must conclude that complaints in this area are due to user error, not a defect in the product. I imagine that in some cases, this problem may be caused by using extremely high-wattage incandescent livestock bulbs, which tend to be enormous and too large for just about any reptile lamp fixture. Keep your bulbs off the mesh by using an appropriately deep fixture, and you should not encounter any issues.

“The substrate lip is so short it may as well not be there at all.”

Yes, at a max height of 3 7/8”, this enclosure’s substrate lip is definitely on the shorter side. Realistically speaking, this enclosure is likely to only accommodate about 3” of substrate. The good news is that this isn’t likely to be a problem for most naturalistic enclosures where the substrate doesn’t have to be particularly deep. In fact, a semi-arid bioactive may even be possible for species that aren’t known to be particularly enthusiastic diggers, as succulents generally have shallow roots. That being said, a temperate to tropical bioactive is likely not to be compatible with this enclosure as there’s just not enough room for an adequate amount of substrate, and particularly not for a drainage layer.

“The enclosures are never in stock!”

Popularity comes with a price, and the problem here is not that Reptile Habitats enclosures are never in stock — it’s that each batch sells out quickly. They seem to be working hard at keeping up with demand, but the fact of the matter is that these things are flying off the shelves. The good news is that they have a waitlist/pre-order option to hold your place in line. You shouldn’t have to wait more than a month or two, which, while it’s not the Amazon Prime experience you’ve gotten used to, it’s still a pretty good turnaround time compared to many reptile enclosure manufacturers.

“The wall panels are flimsy and cheap-feeling.”

As I mentioned earlier in this review, the wall panels are certainly flexible — that’s generally how PVC works unless it’s particularly thick. But would I call them “flimsy?” Not at all. In fact, I was surprised by how strong they felt in my hands. They don’t feel excessively thin or like I could just snap one in half if I were in the mood, which is something I’ve encountered in the past with other enclosures.

In other words, this isn’t something you should be worried about.

“The acrylic doors are too thin and snakes can push their way between them to escape.”

As with PVC, as acrylic sheets get larger, they get more flexible. Increasing the thickness can help remedy this problem, but increasing the thickness increases weight and quickly becomes impractical for designing a matching sliding door track.

Do the doors of the 4x2x2 enclosure flex enough to be a point of concern with snakes? I tested this by taking two fingers and pushing very hard on the doors where they met in the middle. I was able to create a gap of about 1”. Could a snake exploit this kind of gap to escape? In theory I found it a bit doubtful, but the application is a different story: there are verified accounts of snakes (corn snakes, kingsnakes, milksnakes, etc.) doing exactly that.

There is also a small gap between the doors where they meet in the middle which could be potentially exploited by particularly small snakes or lizards, such as baby garter snakes, young corn snakes/kingsnakes/milksnakes, micro geckos, etc. This gap exists whether the doors are made from glass or acrylic. In other words, it’s a good idea to put some kind of weather stripping or reinforcing aluminum “cap” on the doors to address this.

Design/Functionality Notes

I appreciate that the wire port is located on one side rather than centered. It’s not the greatest for hiding external cords compared to being on the back of the enclosure, but it’s definitely likely to result in fewer cords being exposed inside the enclosure, which can be a point of concern if you have a small snake that likes to climb and pretend that the cords are vines.  

The wire port’s design is actually really cool, in my opinion. It can either open partially for smaller cords (thermostat/thermometer probes, heat mat cords, etc.) to pass through four designated holes, or it can open fully for thicker cords (ex: RHP cords) to pass through if you’re not housing a reptile likely to use that as an escape route. It is a bit of a problem, though, if you have an escape-prone reptile and you need to deal with a thick cord – that will likely require drilling through the wall itself, which at the end of the day is an unfortunate inevitability with just about any enclosure.

The top mesh is impressively robust. It feels strong and thick right out of the box, which took me a bit by surprise since at this price point I expected something more akin to Exo Terra or Zoo Med’s fine mesh material. This stuff is to be taken seriously! Plus, it’s well put-together – I couldn’t find any dangerously loose or frayed wires, which is another thing I’ve had trouble with in the past.

The doors operate smoothly and pop in and out as needed. Easily-removable doors (as opposed to built-in) is a feature I’m starting to consider a must-have in any terrarium with sliding doors. I also like the ergonomics of the handles and the way that they match the rest of this enclosure’s attractive aesthetic.

This enclosure is very much designed to have all lamps installed on top. Despite modification options to accommodate interior lamp fixtures, it’s clear that these modifications are something of an afterthought in the design, particularly regarding the hanging rod installation kit. Personally this is not something that bothers me, as it’s safer and easier to arrange light fixtures over a mesh top (and touted as best practice by lighting expert Dr. Frances Baines!). However, it does bother me that this limits the enclosure’s stackability, as the only spacers currently available are 1” tall.

Summary

Things I Liked About the Reptile Habitats 4x2x2 Reptile Enclosure

  • Extremely affordable.
  • Extremely light and easy to move, yet somehow still sturdy.
  • Thin PVC = more conducive to a diverse thermal gradient.
  • Mesh top = better ventilation and easier lamp placement.
  • Very strong top mesh, no concerns about longevity here!
  • Pre-cut glass replacement doors available.
  • Clear substrate dam is good for monitoring substrate moisture content, and can also be fun in case the reptile burrows next to it.
  • Clever wire port design.
  • Super-sleek all-black aesthetic.
  • Clear, detailed assembly instructions.
  • Variety of functional sizes available.
  • Brand has a strong commitment to perpetual improvement.

Things I Didn’t Like About the Reptile Habitats 4x2x2 Reptile Enclosure

  • Distinct risk of escape for slender snakes housed in the 4x2x2 model.
  • Short substrate dam = limited functionality as a bioactive terrarium.
  • Acrylic doors don’t last as long as glass or polycarbonate.
  • Scuffed panels right out of the box (fortunately they weren’t significantly visible when fully assembled).
  • No spacers available taller than 1”, forcing users to install lighting inside if they want to stack.
  • Inconsistent inventory – not always in stock.
  • Nothing in the box directs customers to the online assembly instructions. Print instructions or even just a QR code would be appreciated.

I find the 50lb stated capacity limit to be a bit of a problem, considering that 1 cubic foot of soil or 0.5 cubic foot of sand weighs 40-50lbs. In an enclosure with a 48” x 24” footprint, that only allows for about .75 to 1.5 inches of substrate, and that’s not including décor. However, due to the construction of the enclosure, it can probably feasibly hold more if placed on a sturdy flat surface that supports the entire footprint. The stated weight limit is most likely related to the enclosure’s stackability, in which case stacking these enclosures with a naturalistic or bioactive setup is not likely to be a good idea — the alternative would have to be to place them on a shelving system large enough to support the entire base.

4 lime-green stars

Conclusion: Unbeatable for the Value

ReptiFiles Rating: 4 stars

Rating an enclosure like this is tricky. The price point puts this in the “budget enclosure” category, in which case I have to say this is definitely 5-stars-blows-everything-else-out-of-the-water good for the value. However, if we rank this as a “standard” enclosure, there are a couple of things that knock it back down a bit. So I’m going to summarize it like this: For a reptile enclosure at this price point, you absolutely can’t find anything better. But as far as PVC reptile enclosures go, if you buy this one, there are some features you’re going to have to accept living without.

The first point of major concern is the fact that the flexibility of 4x2x2’s acrylic doors prevent this enclosure from being escape-proof to snakes. Given that the only available equipment for stacking at the moment is a 1” spacer, and the stackable weight limit is so low, I would go so far as to claim that this enclosure is currently essentially unstackable. I also confess that I keep getting caught on the limitations of the short substrate lip — I like versatility in a reptile enclosure, and only having ~3” of substrate space limits the potential applications of this enclosure too much for my taste.

Weaknesses aside, the Reptile Habitats 4x2x2 Reptile Enclosure is a marvel. It’s straightforward to put together, unbelievably lightweight (I have no problems picking it up and moving it by myself despite being 8.5 months pregnant), and disproportionately sturdy. And somehow, after all that, it still costs under $300! “Bang for your buck,” indeed. If Reptile Habitats’ goal is to make upgrading your reptile’s living space more affordable, they’re off to a great start.

Rumor has it that Reptile Habitats is working on a “pro” version of their enclosure that is supposed to fix everything I’ve complained about with this enclosure and then some. After working with this one, I can’t wait to see what the upgrade will look like!

Without modification, the Reptile Habitats 4x2x2 Reptile Enclosure can be used for housing small to medium-sized terrestrial lizards such as:

**click any of the above links to see a ReptiFiles care sheet/manual on the mentioned species**

If you replace the doors of this enclosure with the pre-cut glass upgrade, it becomes compatible with terrestrial to semi-arboreal snakes <48″ long such as corn snakes, kingsnakes, milksnakes, garter snakes, hognose snakes, etc. Weather stripping installation between the doors is strongly recommended as an additional precaution with juveniles.

ReptiFiles’ tips for success with the Reptile Habitats 4x2x2 Reptile Enclosure:

  • Wear gloves if you don’t want to deal with fingerprints later, but you’ll still need to wipe everything down with a damp microfiber cloth.
  • Seal with GE1 100% silicone sealant or another aquarium-safe sealant if you plan to use loose substrate and are concerned about water leaks.
  • Don’t bother with mounting lamps on the inside; put everything on top, and if you want to stack enclosures, use a shelving system.
  • Replace the acrylic doors with Reptile Supply’s glass option if you want to house a species that is likely to scratch the acrylic due to glass-dancing (uromastyx, bearded dragons, blue tongue skinks, etc.) This is also a good precaution to take if you plan on housing a snake if you’re worried about the doors’ flexibility.
  • If you’re struggling with your humidity levels, rather than covering the top to reduce ventilation (which is likely to interfere with your lighting arrangement anyway), try misting more frequently and/or using a reptile humidifier.
  • Heat bulbs should be mounted in fixtures that keep the surface of the bulb at least 1” above the screen top.

Are you a reptile product manufacturer with an awesome new product that you want the world to know about?

Reach out to Mariah at mariah@reptifiles.com to pitch your product for review!

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