Small Mammal and Bird Are
Holding Their Own
Both categories have dedicated fan bases and are seeing
growth, with pet owners focusing on enrichment and
BY E THAN D. MIZER
PET PRODUCT NEWS: How healthy are the small mammal and bird
categories, from a business and hobby perspective?
MELANIE ALLEN: The bird category is growing, but it’s a slow growth
from what we have seen in the past. It’s small. It’s not jumping like it
did in the 1980s and 1990s. But it’s certainly not flat, by any stretch.
The most important trend that I see is that we’re seeing more of the
younger demographic. They’re doing a lot more with rescue and
There’s a shortage of bird breeders. That’s a big problem. Retailers are asking me all the time when I visit their stores where they
can get birds.
CAROLINE JANCZAK: We promote all small mammals, and interest
in the small mammal category has not wavered. We’ve integrated
rescue into what we do now, and we see a large number of animals—particularly guinea pigs—come in through my rescue.
CAROLINE MORGAN: The bird category is growing, and we’re definitely seeing an increase in new customers. I don’t know that people
are necessarily more educated, but with the use of the internet and
social media, a lot of people are starting to find us online rather than
by word-of-mouth like they used to.
KELLY PARSONS: We had a pretty good Christmas with small animals. We sold lots of hamsters and lots of rabbits. People seem to
be going back to them a little bit more. Some of the parents that had
them as kids are now getting them for their children.
The biggest obstacle with the bird category is getting birds. I just
can’t get parakeets, I can’t get finches, and part of it is because I
won’t buy from [breeders who breed in mass]. I get them from local
What are the latest trends in husbandry practices for both categories?
ALLEN: More consumers want natural and wholesome products for
their birds. They want natural and wholesome components of their
bird toys, they want them in their bird foods and certainly in their
treats. Bird owners are reading labels. A lot of that came about a few
years ago with the recalls on some bird foods.
LUCAS STOCK: The bond between [small mammals] and pet parents grows stronger all the time, and these passionate pet parents
are looking for ways to enrich their pets mentally, physically and
through nutrition. Pet parents love to feel good about the choices
they make on behalf of their pets.
CHRIS LUBERSKI: Everybody’s more on a natural trend right now.
They’re using a lot more natural foods and products to feed their
birds, and taking a more holistic approach to things. People are doing their research and planning before making a bird purchase.
PARSONS: Customers do seem to go for a more-high-quality food for
their small mammals, but that’s because that’s what we’re feeding.
So we don’t really give people a choice. We recommend Oxbow for
MELANIE ALLEN, avian product specialist for The Hagen Group in Mansfield, Mass.
LUCAS STOCK, communications manager for Oxbow Animal Health in
CAROLINE JANCZAK, co-owner of Critters Pet Shop in South Elgin, Ill.
CHRIS LUBERSKI, manager of Todd Marcus Birds Exotic in Delran, N.J.
CAROLINE MORGAN, owner of TC Feathers Aviary in Chantilly, Va.
KELLY PARSONS, manager for Denny’s Pet World in Kirkland, Wash.
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