PET PRODUCT NEWS: What’stheoverallhealthoftheherpcategory?Are
you seeing growth in business and the hobby?
ASHLEY RADEMACHER: The herp category is growing strong. Reptiles,
amphibians and even invertebrates are becoming more mainstream
and accepted as household pets. People are finding out just how
personable and enjoyable they can be and are enjoying the unique
benefits they offer—being hypoallergenic, living in beautiful habitats
and demonstrating fascinating behaviors. Invertebrates are quickly
increasing in popularity.
STEVE SOTELO: As a category, the growth pattern has been pretty
steady for the last three or four years. The overall health of the industry is pretty solid. I think we’re going to continue to see a little bit of
growth in this coming year and potentially the two years after.
MIKE HRESKO: It seems to be picking up a little bit in our area. We
have big reptile shows monthly, with a very large one every three
months. We still carry some reptiles. Years ago, we used to have a
larger reptile room, but people are still getting into bearded dragons
and species that are easier to take care of, that don’t get too big. The
shows tend to help business. It works hand-in-hand. They probably
are taking some sales from us, but we’re gaining back sales of food
AARON INGALLS: I would say it is growing. Every year, there are people out there breeding animals. When you look at that aspect, every
year there are more reptiles to care for. Reptiles get the bad end of the
stick sometimes, because people get detached. Due to that aspect, I’ve
served as a rescue myself. I’ve seen all sorts of stuff. For the most part,
our community has picked it up. All in all, everything is going well.
RADEMACHER: All-natural ingredients are proving important in herp
foods, today. As we strive to provide the best care possible for our
animals, pet keepers want to know that their foods are natural and
providing the essential nutrients their animals need. Our nutritionist, with a master’s degree in comparative animal nutrition, works
diligently to provide pet keepers with what they and their animals
need and want.
SOTELO: There are a ton of them, but they’re all micro-trends. I can’t
pinpoint one thing and say this is going to happen in the next two
years. When you look at breeding, cricket sales are growing with the
industry. As the industry grows at a steady clip, obviously your crick-
et sales are going to follow along because there are more people and
more animals that are captive-bred. When we look at the trends in
general, we look at things [like] trying to make it easier [and] trying
to add a little more to the nutrition side of things.
HRESKO: It’s changing a little bit. We’re trying to move people
to some of the frozen diets—with snake diets, for example. Some
of the animals don’t eat frozen foods, and for some people it’s a
little more work. We’re seeing that a little bit more. Herp keepers
are doing more research on what they need [for proper nutrition],
with different vitamin supplements, calcium and stuff like that.
Customers are a little more educated on all of that.
INGALLS: In the last decade or so, I honestly haven’t seen a lot of
change. However, I have seen new product lines come out, such as
Reptilinks, where they do prepackaged meat that’s blended with different ingredients.
We’re actually getting ready to launch our own food, as well. I
plan on doing a carnivore diet for any animal that eats meat. I may do
some variations as we build. It’s going to contain organs, bones and
meat essentially. We are brick-and-mortar right now, but I’m trying
to expand more online.
PPN: How are husbandry practices changing? What’s trending in equip-
ment and supplies?
SOTELO: There’s not a back channel for large-scale breeders coming
up in the foreseeable future. We have a handful of larger breeders
who supply a good percentage of the captive-bred stock to the U.S.
established now, but that doesn’t necessarily mean there’s a new crop
coming in the next 10 years when people start to retire.
I see [equipment development] as a whole as a little stagnant. That
is actually one of my biggest concerns with the category as a whole.
HRESKO: There’s a trend toward smaller terrariums now. Customers
are trying to keep smaller enclosures for appropriate species. It’s not
trending, yet, but people are trying it, you could say. The smaller
tanks are popular for tarantulas and scorpions, for example. In Europe, insects are pretty big. But a lot of insects you can’t get over here.
It’s kind of a limited market, because it’s regulated and controlled.
INGALLS: People are getting into custom cages. I think it definitely is
picking up. I’m seeing people buy aquariums and [customize] them
for sale. As any industry grows, people are trying to look for that edge
that nobody else is providing.
industry stepped up to preempt issues with regulation, and what can
industry participants do?
RADEMACHER: Today, it seems there is always the threat of legislation
that aims to remove the rights of pet keepers. That is why Zoo Med
TIMBERLINE Herp Hobby Poised for Growth
While the category is strong and new hobbyists are buying reptiles,
challenges with livestock supply and legislative changes loom on the horizon.
BY ETHAN D. MIZER
ASHLEY RADEMACHER, animal care and
education director for Zoo Med Laboratories
in San Luis Obispo, Calif.
STEVE SOTELO, Exo Terra division manager
for Hagen Group in Mansfield, Mass.
MIKE HRESKO, owner of House of Tropicals
in Glen Burnie, Md.
AARON INGALLS, owner of DNA Slithers
& Critters in Englewood, Colo.
Hobbyists are looking for custom cages to house their
reptiles, according to industry experts.
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