So I decided to gamble on a Chinese product. Not something I usually do, but I had a unique need for a compact system, and this product caught my eye a few months ago.
First, this product is VERY small. It gets loads of bad reviews that I think are buyers who didn’t bother to look at the measurements that are definitely advertised!
Behold, possibly the world’s smallest hatchling rack:
Pictures actually make this setup seem bigger, in my opinion. Please note that the setup I purchased includes a door on front with viewing windows. This is actually unusual, most being sold do not have a front door.
The size is very limiting, but definitely has some practical uses. As pictured, I wanted this for a new litter of Solomon Isle Ground Boas that was just born here. I needed organization and heat to make the daunting task of feeding easier in any way possible, seeing how difficult the species can be to get started.
Other possible ideas might be baby colubrids, especially corns and hognose. If your goal is to simply establish a number of animals for the purpose of sale, then this will certainly work.
The “rack” uses an included back-heat tape system, and surprisingly, the 13 watt heat tape has a cheap ol’ rheostat built into the cord.
Some reviews have stated that the heat tape is junk. I have plugged them all in (I bought 4 racks) and they actually do work. They are a bit thick and the lower wattage only gave me around a ten degree boost in heat, but it happened to be exactly what I needed. This is with the rheostat being fully on high. Grabbing the element to feel heat is probably where the bad reviews came from, you really can’t feel it. An infrared temp gun confirmed the temperature for me, however.
If you plan to use this in a cold basement, you will need more heat. I can’t see the tape working in that scenario. My reptile room ambient temperature is around 75° and the tape is steady at 88°.
As for the downsides:
Materials are PVC for the rack, but there is no real cabinetry work in the outer shell. Furthermore, it is glued together. If you were to drop the rack on a corner, I would fully expect it to be completely disassembled. The shelves do seat into grooves, but the overall design is still pretty lazy and I would reinforce the unit with screws if you feel high risk at knocking one over.
The tubs are actually pretty nice, pre-drilled with ventilation holes. They do not feel brittle at all. There is a “step” in the bottom of each tub that has no advertised use, but your imagination might find creative ways to take advantage of it, such as a half water, half land setup.
The holes drilled are small enough to prevent baby Solomon Isle ground boas from escaping, and the clearance between tub top to the next shelf is sufficient here too.
I’d like to recommend the option with a door for it’s heat-retention properties. I merely bought the unit with the best price tag and the door version was pure luck. The door comes unattached and is the only part that needs “installed”.
The hinges and setup are rather strange and did take a moment to figure out. When done, the door is sloppy in motion. It does close reasonably and is held shut by magnets. I personally prefer the appearance without a door, but I do think the better heat retention is a worthy bonus to live with.
Some quality control is needed, such as placement of the above-mentioned magnets. One tub is likely, out of the 8, to be harder to slide out because the magnet barely sticks out.
Lastly for this review, the only other issue I experience is general difficulty grabbing the tubs to slide them out. There is no lip or knob to grasp to aid in sliding them out, but it’s not unreasonable to find ways to add a knob.
I hope this review helps anyone with tiny pets or other unique demands in our hobby. Feel free to ask questions if you have any. This has been a voluntary review, I am curious to see if the concept grows.
Edit to add: the systems also come with a digital thermometer and hygrometer. It is unfortunately placed towards the front of each system, on the side panel. It also reads only in Celsius, that I am aware of. My temp/hygr. units actually did not come with the batteries they require, so I am assuming they are the same celsius units. I plan to pop them out and replace them with a fahrenheit model that is equipped with a probe so I can read the heat tape directly. These units are cheap, ranging from $2 each for non-probe style, to about $5 each for ones equipped with a probe. Worth the extra money to me. The style is the same as well, and easy to find, so they will snap right into place.