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9 months ago, we posted our review of the Zen Habitats Original 4’x2’x2’ Enclosure. This product was a smash hit with bearded dragon owners, and still dominates the discussion every time I see a new keeper ask, “Where can I get a 4’x2’x2’ enclosure for my dragon?” Today we’re excited to introduce you to Zen Habitats’ latest product, the Zen Habitats 4’x2’x2′ Reptile Enclosure with PVC Panels. It’s essentially the same thing as their original, but with a couple key differences: PVC panels and an acrylic Humidity Shield!
I loved the original Zen Habitat, but it was definitely designed for low-humidity reptiles like bearded dragons, uromastyx, etc. Although sturdy, the bamboo panels needed sealing in order to survive housing a high-humidity species, or else they would start to mold and degrade. Plus, while I adored the super ventilation-friendly screen top, that design lets A LOT of humidity escape. So I’m very excited to see this product available in a model that is more friendly to high-humidity reptiles.
That’s the theory, anyway. Let’s see if it holds up to the hype!
- 4’x2’x2′ = 120 gallon capacity
- Tolerates up to 100% ambient humidity
- Bamboo-printed composite PVC panels
- Lightweight aluminum frame
- Removable acrylic sliding doors with door knobs
- 6″ acrylic substrate shield
- Galvanized “cat-proof” steel screen top with support bars
- Acrylic “humidity shield” to cover top screen
- Rubber grommet wire port
- Plastic wire port plug
- Stackable if used with spacer
- Ships flat
- Requires no tools for assembly
- 30-day money back guarantee
- FREE shipping
- Designed primarily for geckos, ball pythons, boa constrictors, skinks, and turtles, as well as frogs and other amphibians.
Zen Habitats reptile enclosures are shipped flat in a large, roughly 48”x24”x6” box. One big difference here, compared to last time, is that it seems Zen Habitats has chosen to dispose of the pretty branded box. Likely an unnecessary expense, since the product is not currently sold in any physical retail locations, but I’d be lying if I said I didn’t miss it.
Silly preferences aside, everything was packed inside securely, tightly, and without an inch of wasted space — if Zen Habitats does one thing well, it’s efficiency! I would not want to challenge them to a game of Blokus.
The PVC had no discernable odor coming out of the box. Despite the new material, the Zen Habitats 4’x2’x2’ Reptile Enclosure with PVC Panels still sports the brand’s signature bamboo look, and the PVC panels are almost indistinguishable from the original bamboo. Each panel was perfectly straight, no bowing at all, but I did notice that several corners were wrinkled and/or frayed.
Pertaining to the aluminum frame, pieces for the front part of the enclosure are clearly labeled with stickers, which I think is a nice touch to reduce the margin of error for assembly. If only all the pieces were labeled!
All acrylic pieces were covered on both sides with a protective film to keep them clean and unscathed during shipping.
Like last time, the enclosure came with a clear, concise mini booklet of instructions for assembly, as well as a list of parts so you can take inventory of everything before getting started. There is also an optional video assembly guide available online for people who prefer video instructions. I do better with words and occasional pictures, myself, but there are many people who learn better in a audio/video format, so this is a thoughtful touch.
Putting it Together
When I reviewed the original Zen Habitats enclosure, my husband Chad volunteered to put it together. Since he’s definitely the more handy person between the two of us, I gratefully accepted his help. However, this time, I was determined to prove whether Zen Habitats’ design is truly as “idiot-proof” as Chad concluded. So I volunteered as the “idiot” to put it all together, from beginning to end. If I could put this thing together, anyone can.
The aluminum frame pieces make a horrible screeching sound comparable to that of Styrofoam when they rub together. Not much can really be done about that, but if sounds like that feel like your brain is going to liquefy and pour out of your ears while your teeth fall out one at a time, well, you’ve been warned. However, the label stickers on the pieces were very helpful in preventing me from using the wrong pieces on the wrong parts of the frame, and they came off the metal without fuss or residue.
One of the selling points of this kit is that it doesn’t require tools for assembly, but I had to get out a hammer (and probably disturbed the neighbors downstairs) to get the joints all the way into the frame bars. It’s a very tight fit!
When sliding the mesh top into place, I noticed that the edges where the mesh meets the frame are a bit ragged. While it wasn’t a problem for me, had I been less careful while handling this piece, there would have been potential for a minor cut or scrape.
While using a flathead screwdriver to pry the wire port loose, the PVC was dented. As it turns out, the PVC panels are not as hard as the bamboo ones were. However, since it’s PVC, it’s waterproof, so no sealing was required this time around.
I did, however, use GE Formula #1 100% silicone sealant around the bottom edge and 6” up each corner to make sure the enclosure would be leak-resistant. Because PVC and silicone don’t adhere well, I had to use some sandpaper to rough up the contact surface first so the silicone would have something to bond to. It worked well! And unlike last time, the substrate shield was not bowed, which made installation with the silicone much easier.
The protective film on the acrylic pieces is a wonderful idea for protection, but it is a pain to remove. The acrylic also got all sticky once the film was gone, so it attracted every piece of dust, dirt, and hair (a curse upon this long, thick hair of mine!) within a 5’ radius. I highly recommend keeping a microfiber cloth on hand for dealing with this.
Aside from that, the doors popped right in as advertised, although for some reason it was much easier to pop them in/out in the middle rather than on their designated sides. The knobs were nice and easy to screw in by hand without a screwdriver.
The acrylic humidity shield was easy enough to place — just set it on top of the mesh and you’re done! However, I did have to cut it into a custom shape so it wouldn’t interfere with my configuration of heat and UVB lamps. Fortunately, since this particular piece of plastic is nice and thin, it’s easy to cut.
The Final Product
The key to success in putting the 4’x2’x2′ Zen Habitats Reptile Enclosure with PVC Panels together is following the assembly instructions very carefully, as there are pieces that look similar to other pieces, but have entirely different functions, and separating them once they’ve been connected is a real pain in the neck. However, I managed to put it together with minimal wincing from Chad (although he did laugh at me a couple times — he thinks my “concentration face” is funny), so we can officially say that Zen Habitats enclosures are indeed idiot-proof!
The acrylic humidity shield is a good idea for helping retain humidity, although it does negatively affect air flow. Fortunately, since the walls are made of PVC, you can fairly easily drill holes into the side panels for ventilation that affect humidity levels as much. (Put a row of holes at the top on the basking side, and a row of holes at the bottom above the substrate on the cool side for best results.)
The humidity shield also presents a problem with UVB lamps, as UVB light is blocked by glass and plastic, even if the material is clear. So if a UVB lamp is mounted over the humidity shield, the reptile below will not receive any benefit. Fortunately, the type of mesh that Zen Habitats uses is fine enough that it also blocks a substantial portion of the UVB, so it’s best to just mount the lamp on the underside of the mesh with zip ties anyway.
I mentioned this before, but I’ll say it again: I LOVE the fact that these enclosures have a full screen top. No other PVC enclosure on the current market (that I know of) features a full screen top, and this feature is critical to adequate ventilation as well as custom light placement. It does get in the way of stackability, but with stacking spacers, the problem is resolved, and I’ll sacrifice a little convenience for better air flow and temperature gradients any day. Plus, mesh tops make lighting installation MUCH easier since you don’t have to worry about how you’re going to stick that fluorescent or LED light fixture to the roof of the enclosure.
Things I Liked About the Zen Habitats 4’x2’x2’ Reptile Enclosure with PVC Panels
- Low price
- Free shipping
- Great starter size for many popular reptile species
- Very easy to put together
- PVC and aluminum construction is extremely lightweight
- Waterproof panels makes it incredibly versatile for housing dry or humid climate species
- 6” substrate shield is included, perfect for a deep natural substrate
- Full mesh top makes lamp placement much easier
- Mesh top also provides excellent ventilation
- Humidity shield helps retain humidity and is easy to cut to size as needed
- Sliding doors are easily removable for cleaning and better access
- Knobs help prevent fingerprint marks on the doors
- Wire port is conveniently placed and a good idea
- The inclusion of a wire port plug in each kit is very considerate and a great escape prevention feature for housing snakes
(Chad wants me to include a note here about his appreciation for the clear acrylic substrate guard. Most enclosures have opaque substrate guards, which can hinder visibility of the reptile inside.)
Things I Didn’t Like About the Zen Habitats 4’x2’x2’ Reptile Enclosure with PVC Panels
- The PVC walls are not as durable as I hoped
- It’s very difficult to take apart once set up
- The mesh blocks a substantial percentage of UVB
- The mesh is so fine that it requires cutting with wire clippers to accommodate zip ties for mounting UVB
- No note about using the wire port plug for snakes
I would like for there to be a note somewhere in the kit, whether on the humidity shield’s packaging or just a piece of paper that comes with the instructions, warning customers not to place heat or UVB lamps over the humidity shield. This is something many new reptile keepers don’t think about, and can make a difference in preventing tragedy.
Conclusion: Great PVC enclosure for the reptile keeper on a budget.
ReptiFiles Rating: 4.5 stars
Due to the versatility of the material, PVC reptile enclosures are in high demand, and the Zen Habitats PVC enclosure is a great entry-level option for the reptile keeper on a budget. It has few negative points, although my biggest concern is how easy it is to damage the panels. However, its strong aluminum frame, attractive design, humidity-friendly features, and full-mesh top put the Zen Habitats 4’x2x2′ Reptile Enclosure with PVC Panels squarely among the best PVC reptile enclosures currently available.
The Zen Habitats PVC enclosure is extremely versatile, and suitable for small to mid-sized terrestrial snakes and lizards with low to high humidity requirements, such as:
- African fat-tailed gecko
- Ball python
- Bearded dragon
- Blue tongue skink
- Corn snake
- Fire skink
- Hognose snake
- Leopard gecko
- Milk snake
- Plated lizard
- Rainbow boa
- Rosy boa
- Sand boa
Our advice for using this product:
- If you plan to keep a snake in this enclosure, make sure to use the wire port plug to minimize risk of escape. If you are housing a snake but need to use the rubber grommet wire port for UVB lamp’s cord, close the plug from behind with a couple pieces of duct tape.
- Use 100% pure silicone (no added chemicals) to seal the seams to make this enclosure ready for bioactive.
- Don’t use anything even mildly abrasive on the acrylic doors, as this will scratch and cloud them.
- Use the money that you saved from buying this enclosure on filling it with enrichment items. Don’t leave it bare!