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Natural & Variety Lead in Sales
The popularity of natural foods and in- gredients seen in the mammal pet seg- ments is trickling into the herp category, according to industry experts.
“All-natural ingredients are proving im-
portant in herp foods today,” said Ashley
Rademacher, animal care and education di-
rector for Zoo Med Laboratories in San Luis
Obispo, Calif. “As we strive to provide the
best care possible for our animals, pet keep-
ers want to know that their foods are natural
and providing the essential nutrients their
Brandon Armstrong, operations manager
at Armstrong’s Cricket Farm in West Mon-
roe, La., agreed.
“The trend of healthy, natural options
still continues, but pet owners are also look-
ing to offer variety,” he said. “Live crickets,
vegetables, worms and supplements—pet
owners are incorporating many options in
their pets’ diet.”
Brian Potter, co-owner of Chicago Reptile
House in Orland Park, Ill., reported similar
demands from his customers.
“People want more varied live foods [to
be] available, and they are,” he said, adding that he sees more options coming down
the herp food pipeline with advances in
“I think there will be more different types
of live foods, and the quality and survivabil-
ity of the bugs will keep improving as well
as the dry/canned/jarred-type foods, i.e.,
bearded dragon, monitor, turtle and tortoise
foods,” he said.
Insiders also report rising sales, thanks,
in part, to the hobby’s demographic shift toward younger owners.
“My herp department, as a whole, is doing better,” said Tom Herron, owner of Fins
Feathers Paws & Claws in Harleysville, Pa.
“Younger people are getting into the hobby.”
Mike Hresko, owner of House of Tropicals in Glen Burnie, Md., also reported a lift
“People are still getting into bearded
dragons and species that are easier to take
care of, that don’t get too big,” he said.
“Herp keepers are doing more research
on what they need [for proper nutrition],
with different vitamin supplements, calcium
and stuff like that,” he added. “Customers
are a little more educated on all of that.”
Potter also found that consumers are more
knowledgeable about reptile nutrition.
“The live segment is really the hot thing,”
Younger shoppers tend to do their research
and enjoy opportunities to be hands on in the
care of their animals, Armstrong said.
“A new generation of consumers who like
to do things themselves is emerging, along
with well-educated consumers who know
or want to know a lot about their pet’s hab-
itats and diets,” he said. “So we have seen
a small uptick in sales of do-it-yourself food
supplies—grow your own crickets or make
your own herp food, for example.”
Steve Sotelo, Exo Terra division manager
for Hagen Group in Mansfield, Mass., re-
ported overall growing cricket sales within
“As the industry grows at a steady clip,
obviously your cricket sales are going to follow along because there are more people and
more animals that are captive-bred,” he said.
Looking ahead, Armstrong sees insect
trends on the human side benefiting the
industry as well.
“The trend towards insects for human
consumption is slowly gaining momentum in our culture,” he said. “This trend is
causing live herp food to be more widely
accepted as consumers attempt to raise their
Cricket Cafes from ARMSTRONG’S CRICKET FARM provide live feeder insects
in a pre-packaged container. Easy to stock and convenient to grab from the
shelves, containers are boxed for customers to grab and go. Crickets come
pre-packaged with food. Sizes include: Extra Small/Small with 40 small crickets, one week old; Small/Medium contains 30 crickets, two weeks old; and
Medium/Large has 24 crickets, two-thirds grown. armstrongcrickets.com
SPECTRUM BRANDS PET offers Tetrafauna Pro ReptoMin
Lifestages Nutrition. The formulas are designed for optimal
nutrition in baby, juvenile and adult aquatic turtles. Lifestages
formulas are scientifically balanced to fulfill the needs of each
growth milestone. With digestible odor-blocking technology,
they reduce a major problem that affects turtles by supporting an increase in nutrient absorption and helping to reduce
the concentration of ammonia and odors in the aquarium
associated with pet waste. tetrafauna.com
EXOTIC NUTRITION offers Calci-Worms.
The black soldier fly larvae are considered
the best new alternative for incorporating
all-natural calcium and protein into a
pet’s diet, the company reports. The black
soldier flies are sourced from Canada,
and during their larval phase they feed
off various kinds of organic material.
The flies convert this to proteins, giving
Calci-Worms their high nutritional value
( 45 percent protein) to support strong and
healthy growth. The product is ideal for reptiles, hedgehogs, sugar gliders, chickens,
wild birds, fish and other insect-eating animals. exoticnutrition.com
ZOO MED LABORATORIES offers its Crested Gecko
Food, which has been reformulated using the latest
in nutritional science information and techniques.
The diet includes healthful portions of fruits and
insects, as well as probiotics to maintain digestive
health. It can be fed wet to intensify aromas or dry
to add variety. The
food also is great for
day geckos, gargoyle
geckos and other
omnivorous New Cale-
donian gecko species.
The food comes in two
and Tropical Fruit, and is available in pouch and bottle