Offering herp and small mammal enclosure options that fit customers’
price point expectations and interest can help build new sales opportunities.
BY E THAN D. MIZER
When it comes to housing herps and small mammals, price point and functionality are top of mind for shop- pers, industry participants reported.
“It’s all about price,” said Steven Bateman, owner of Steve’s
Pet Shop in Oakhurst, Calif. “Some of the small mammal stuff
gets up there [in terms of cost]. Some of the fancy [enclosures]
with tube connections get up to $70 retail, and that’s too much.
Price is a driving [force].”
For herps, he mostly recommends Zoo Med products to customers. He also reported that customers are increasingly interested in front-opening enclosures, especially as prices have fallen.
“Everybody really likes the front-opening [enclosures],”
Bateman said. “The more manufacturers make them, the more
prices are going down, too. They used to be a lot more expensive.”
The main attraction of front-opening enclosures is that they
offer pet owners easier access to their pets, compared to those
that open from the top, and it’s a feature that is driving sales,
Customers are also interested in keeping animals secure.
“Security is a big issue with reptiles, as many can be escape
artists,” said Ryan McVeigh, brand manager for Central Garden
& Pet Co.’s Zilla brand in Franklin, Wis. “Consumers want secure
caging without having to pay a lot for custom cages.”
According to retailers, demand for cages is now expanding to
include a range of sizes, including smaller options.
“We sell a mix of sizes,” said Robert Ritchey, manager of
Middle Earth Reptiles in Corona, Calif. “People have been
buying the 5.5-gallon [enclosures] made by Zilla, but we also have
customers buying the 40-gallon [enclosures] made by Zoo Med.”
Ritchey has more success offering screen-top housing
for herps, he noted, but customer preference depends on the species they’re keeping.
“We sell more of the standard cages with the screen on
top,” he said. “I think it’s more convenient, and they’re less
Manufacturers are adding both front-opening
and screen-top options as well as smaller
sizes to their lines of small animal and herp
This spring, Central Garden & Pet’s
Zilla brand in Franklin, Wis., released its line of
front-opening terrariums, said brand manager
“These terrariums have glass doors that
open from the front of the terrarium and allow
easier access without having to move any
potentially hot light fixtures,” he said.
The setups are designed to help maintain
humidity, and the bottoms are watertight to
allow for plants and water features, he added.
Other manufacturers are offering new housing options as well. Zoo Med Laboratories in
San Luis Obispo, Calif., released the Nano Breeze
open-air aluminum screen cage habitat to cater
to the growing demand for smaller setups.
The Nano Breeze is a terrarium designed
for smaller herps, including baby chameleons,
lizards, dwarf gecko species, insects and other
invertebrates, said animal care and education
coordinator Ashley Rademacher.
Price point continues to be the driving force
when it comes to small mammal enclosures.
“For small mammals, we carry Kaytee, Habi-trails and Hagen,” said Steven Bateman, owner
of Steve’s Pet Shop in Oakhurst, Calif.
“We mostly recommend Kaytee, because
they’re priced really well.”
EW PRODUCTS USTOMER EDUCATION
PACKAGING INFORMATION & PRODUCT
Retailers drive sales in small mammal and herp housing by informing customers of
species’ needs and emphasizing education in-store. But it’s also useful to find opportunities to reach out to customers through other means, and connecting with the local
community can help bring in new customers.
“We offer pamphlets and field trips,” said Steven Bateman, owner of Steve’s Pet
Shop in Oakhurst, Calif. “A lot of the local schools bring kids for field trips. We do demos
Stores can also put together their own kits with everything needed to get a particular
species started so that customers can make a one-stop purchase decision, retailers
SHOW IT IN ACTION
Maintaining in-store displays and setups remains the best way to drive sales of herp and
small mammal housing options, industry participants reported.
“I see it all the time,” said Scott Wenguer, president of Pet Tekk Products in Van
Nuys, Calif. “If you merchandise something properly, it’s going to sell. You have got to set
[housing] up in the store. Too many stores don’t do that.”
When he bought his pet store, Wenguer said, it was making $400,000 a year. After
three years, he was making $900,000. Wenguer attributes his success to the fact that he
focused on eye-popping displays.
Focusing on turn rate and keeping small mammal housing options prominently
displayed works for Michael Dan, owner of RedRidge Pet Market in Henrico, Va.
“Everything is dialed up on turn rate, but the key with that is having a selection and
then keeping it relatively prominent,” he said.
Keeping displays in top condition is important as well, and even the way displays are
arranged can make a big difference in terms of sales.
“Keep nice, clean displays,” said Steven Bateman, owner of Steve’s Pet Shop in
Oakhurst, Calif. “It keeps sales steady for small mammals.”