SMALL MAMMAL OWNERS
A GROWING SELECTION
While consumers tend to stick to tried-and-true brands in the small animal food segment,
innovative new products are coming on the market and gaining attention.
In 2018, Supreme Petfoods, headquartered in Ipswich, England, introduced its Selective
Grain-Free diets shortly after it launched its Selective Naturals treat range, said Claire Hamblion,
marketing manager for the company.
“It’s been a very exciting year for us,” Hamblion said. “We’re continuing to refine and
improve our recipes wherever possible, and, most recently, we’ve improved the size and shape
of our Selective Hamster food to make it more suitable for the popular dwarf breeds.”
The company is planning additional releases within the segment this year, she added.
Specialty diets are also becoming more common on the market.
“We recently released our Premium Insectivore Diet, which is a chicken-based protein diet
suitable for a variety of insectivores,” said Ken Korecky, CEO of Exotic
Nutrition in Newport News, Va.
The Premium Insectivore Diet provides poultry-based protein and is
formulated for sugar gliders, hedgehogs and other animals. The company
also recently released VitaGlow all-natural feed supplement, and it
introduced its Honey-Berry Instant-HPW sugar glider diet in March, as well
as EZ-Worms, which is a blend of dried soldier fly larva and dried mealworms.
“We are seeing a trend in the variety of foods consumers are searching for,” Korecky said.
“Our retailers are requesting larger selections of flavors and ingredients to provide for their
customers’ requests. We are also seeing a greater demand for natural and fresh ingredients.”
“Premium diets continue to grow and perform well at retail,” said Tim Norsen, national sales
manager for Vitakraft Sun Seed in Bowling Green, Ohio. “The humanization of pets in general
means that small animal consumers, especially with larger species, seek out quality nutrition
and are willing to pay more for it.”
Vitakraft launched its Sunseed Vita Balance diets at Global Pet Expo this year. These rabbit
and guinea pig diets are made with timothy-based pellets and have a unique shape designed to
encourage gnawing and support dental health, Norsen stated.
Small mammal purchases are increasingly skewing older, and millennial consumers are choosing these critters when other pet choices aren’t an option. Supreme Petfoods in Ipswich, England,
has studied the segment, said Claire Hamblion, marketing manager for
the company, and she noted that in the company’s survey of 700 pet
owners, they found the customer base is increasingly skewing toward
people in their late teens and early twenties.
“[We found] higher levels of ownership by millennials who want
a pet but can’t commit to a cat or dog due to their lifestyle,” she said.
“These owners are often highly committed and highly educated and
are really looking to ensure their pet has a long, happy and healthy life.”
“I’m located in a big college area,” said Carol Hoover, owner of
Carol’s Critters in Tallahassee, Fla. “My customers are almost entirely
in their early twenties. They’re allowed to have exotics in apartments.
Small mammals are a very popular line.”
Still, this trend appears to be highly dependent on retail location,
and other retailers indicated that their customer base still skews toward
families with kids in the small mammal segment.
“It’s an event to come in,” said Kelly Parsons, manager of Denny’s
Pet World in Kirkland, Wash. “Customers bring their kids, and everyone
wants to pet a bunny. Having the animal foods does keep them
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