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Review of Zilla Rock Lair and Waterfall

In our last article, Gecko Time reviewed three micro habitats produced by Zilla. This article reviews Zilla’s final two offerings: the Extra Large Rock Lair and the Small Waterfall.

Extra Large Rock Lair

Like all Zilla products, the Rock Lair is attractively packaged with the most important features listed briefly with bullet points (Incredible natural look; Provides dark, secure hide with high humidity; Humidity within lair aids in shedding while outer texture aides in shed skin removal; Perfect egg laying environment). The illustration features a ball python using the lair. The dimensions are not listed on the box, but a quick search of the Zilla site revealed that it is 13.5″ long, 9″ high and 6.25″ wide. The extra large size is the only problem with using this particular piece for geckos. It’s huge! At nearly 14″ long, it takes up nearly half the length of a 20 gallon long enclosure, the most popular size for most leopard gecko keepers. It could be a good addition to a much larger enclosure and could be a useful stepping stone if there is a second level to the cage. I found it too large to easily fit in my leachie enclosure as well and I think it would be difficult for a Leachianus gecko to easily turn around once it enters the hide. The Rock Lair does come in 3 other sizes, Small (5.5″x5″x4″), Medium (8.25″x5.75″x5″) and Large (11″x7.75″x6″). The smaller sizes are likely more appropriate for most geckos.

Needless to say, I couldn’t try it out in any of my gecko cages, but my beardie loves it!

Small Waterfall

A few years ago, when I purchased my large (18″x18″x36″) Exo-terra enclosure from Craigslist for a small group of crested geckos, I was delighted to find out that it included a waterfall. I set it up and discovered to my dismay that the waterfall leaked! Water would seep out of the cage (which does have a hydroton drainage layer) onto the floor. None of my attempts to level the waterfall or seal the bottom of the enclosure worked.
Consequently, when I got the opportunity to review the Zilla waterfall, my first concern was whether or not it leaks (I now have new hardwood floors). I was very pleased to find out that this waterfall does not leak. It’s simply made, with only 4 components and the water reservoir, as can be seen below, is sufficiently deep that if not overfilled, it will not leak.

The instructions are simple. It’s important to note that this unit needs to be plugged in, which means that the cord must be fed up the side of the enclosure and out so it can reach the outlet. The Exo-Terra and ZooMed enclosures, as well as some other front-opening enclosures are made with small openings at the top to allow a cord to go through. Custom made enclosures or converted aquariums with screen covers should be checked to insure that the waterfall cord can get through the top.
Of course, when installing the new waterfall, there was no place to relocate the 4 female crested geckos in residence:

Installing the new waterfall
Uh-oh!
Double Uh-oh!

(I wasn’t able to take a picture of the crestie that escaped entirely, ran across the room and up the wall!)

I would highly recommend this Zilla waterfall for geckos that tolerate humidity, where the enclosure is large enough to accommodate it (the waterfall is 9.5″x8.25″x8.25″). The Zilla large-size waterfall is not significantly taller, but has a lateral extension that makes it about twice as wide.

That said, there are a few things, not specified by Zilla’s information, to know about successfully maintaining a waterfall:

  • There is no easy way to check whether or not the waterfall needs more water: Due to evaporation and minimal splashing eventually the waterfall will need more water. If there isn’t enough water for the pump to move it, the waterfall will stop flowing. However, before it gets to this point, the pump will get noisy: it kind of sounds like someone with a really bad case of asthma. When this happens, the easiest thing to do is to remove the small top piece and pour in more water (slowly). However, there’s no way to know how much water is too much. This means that the middle piece, housing the pump, will need to be lifted off as well to expose the reservoir, which then can be filled to the proper level. If you have Houdini escape-artist geckos in residence, this can get tricky.
  • The pump gets dirty: Since the waterfall is open to the elements in the enclosure, bits of crud will fall into it and eventually will start to clog up the intake on the pump. If the waterfall is properly filled and still doesn’t seem to be working, the pump will have to be removed (lift up the piece where the water flows down and pull out the pump) and washed out.
  • The pump could break: The pump is a very simple device which includes a small cylinder with rotors that works electromagnetically to provide the pumping action and housing to direct the water up the plastic hose. Having used a variety of these pumps for fish ponds and small table fountains, I have found that the cheaper pump models can become unreliable over time and fail to work. The Zilla pump is under warranty for a year. I have no idea how long it will really last. It’s possible that Zilla will be able to supply a replacement part. Failing this, I have had the best experience with the Fountain Tech FT-35 pump, some of which have been running for more than 10 years in my home.

We hope these Zilla reviews will be useful for deciding which equipment will work for geckos. Gecko Time would love to get some comments about how you have found these products to work out for you!

What do you think?

Written by Aliza

Aliza is a home care speech therapist living in the Boston area. She successfully bred a variety of gecko species between 2005 and 2017. She currently cares for a large number of geckos as well as a few frogs and bearded dragons. Other interests which she pursues in her copious free time include work in ceramics, practicing aikido and surfing the internet.

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Review of Zilla Micro Habitats