Small Mammal Diets Deliver on Health
BY E THAN D. MIZER
Customers are increasingly attached to their small critters, and want variety and healthful options to keep
their pets nourished and well fed.
Traditional offerings are still popular in the small mammal diet segment, but increasingly, dietary diversity and health-conscious labeling is beginning to creep into consumers’ consciousness.
“Customers understand the advantages of varying small mammal diets,” said Stacy M. Davis, purchasing director for That Fish
Place/That Pet Place in Lancaster, Pa. “This helps ensure that the
small pet is getting a wide variety of nutrients from many different
sources of food and treats.”
More customers are purchasing multiple small mammal pets at
one time, Davis added, and she is seeing growth in her small mammal department.
Pet owners are increasingly interested in improving health and
longevity for their small animals.
“People care a lot more than they used to about the diet that
they’re feeding to their small mammals,” said Kelly Parsons, man-
ager of Denny’s Pet World in Kirkland, Wash. “We try to make it so
that [small mammals] have a long and happy life, because they don’t
live as long as a dog or a cat. Their lifespans are so short, and people
want to do everything they can to kind of extend that.”
In addition, small mammal pet owners tend to find a food they
like and stick with it.
“Customers can be very brand loyal with their small mammal
foods,” Davis said. “Oxbow foods are very popular with our customers, and if we have a shortage on the shelves, the customers won’t
switch brands. They will select another type of food within the Oxbow line.”
KNOWING THE ASSORTMENT
A key component of an effective sales
strategy for small mammal diets is making
sure customers and staff are educated on
“We have employees that have been here
for a really long time,” said Kelly Parsons,
manager of Denny’s Pet World in Kirkland,
Wash. “We are fairly knowledgeable, and we
make sure [that customers] know as much
as they can about caring for their animal
It’s important to explain the benefits
of feeding a better diet, Parsons added.
With customers more health conscious
and focused on choice, it’s also useful to
stay informed as to what’s available in the
“Consumers do want choices, so bringing
in new products, offering variety and trying
to meet the requests will generate the most
sales,” said Ken Korecky, CEO of Exotic
Nutrition in Newport News, Va. “Continually
monitoring the market for new products and
becoming educated on the newest trends
When it comes to small mammal foods,
retailers are well suited to beat their online-
based retail competition, as most customers
aren’t buying these diets online.
“For most people, buying online
probably doesn’t really seem worth it,” said
Carol Hoover, owner of Carol’s Critters in
Tallahassee, Fla. “It’s just a few bucks. With
dog food or something that’s $50 to $60 it
might be worth it, but not with most of the
[small mammal] stuff. Besides, customers
want to come in and pick out different toys