Customers are increasingly focused on giving their herptile pets a wide
variety of healthful, natural food options and supplements.
“Just as cat and dog
owners are learning
more about how their
pet’s diet is made and
where the ingredients
are coming from, herp
owners are starting to
want this information
for their pets, as well.”
—Bree Modica of Zoo
BY E THAN D. MIZER
Herps are becoming increasingly popular as pets, especially among city and apartment dwellers. Couple that with the fact that most herps do best on a varied diet consisting of live and fresh foods, along with prepared dietary offerings and supplements, and it is not surprising that pet
specialty retailers report growing business in the herp nutrition category.
Live foods and leafy greens continue to be the most popular option for herp hobbyists, according
“Customers like to stick with the traditional way of feeding live foods, whether it’s the fresh produce or live insects,” said Matt Benedict, sales associate for Custom Creatures Pet Shop in Phoenix.
Still, reptile owners often seek a quick and easy approach to feeding their pets.
“Convenience is probably one of the biggest selling points for the prepackaged [items],” Benedict
added. “It is so much easier to do that than to actually make a salad for some of your animals.”
“The words ‘natural’ and ‘transparency’ have been coming around lately, both from retailers
and from herp owners,” said Bree Modica, nutrition and regulatory specialist, R&D, food and drug
division, at Zoo Med Laboratories in San Luis Obispo, Calif. “Just as cat and dog owners are learning
more about how their pet’s diet is made and where the ingredients are coming from, herp owners
are starting to want this information for their pets, as well.”
In general, the more informed the customer, the more concerned they are about herp dietary
health, said Jayzun Boget, assistant manager of the reptile and small animal department at Preuss
Pets in Lansing, Mich.
“This trend parallels how a lot of people are starting to be a little bit more conscious about what
they’re putting into their own body,” Boget said. “The idea of having something that’s on the shelf,
at least to supplement, really helps. But in that case, I do push live insects as well as fresh veggies,
when they’re appropriate.”
One of the biggest selling points for both prepackaged herp dietary options as well as supple-
ments is the variety it allows customers to offer their pets.
“When it comes to customers using the prepackaged stuff, it’s not only just for convenience, but
also to add variety,” Benedict said. “We get to choose what we like to eat. [Pet] reptiles don’t usually
have that option. So a lot of the time, people will give the variety so that they feel like the animal gets