INTRODUCTIONS IN CRITTER PLAY
Since spring, manufacturers have introduced several chews, treats and toys specifically for small mammals. From
Chilton, Wis.-based Pets International-Kaytee, a division of Central Garden & Pet Co., came three items designed
for chewing and entertainment.
Kaytee Kapok Nest & Chew Pods, which grow on white silk-cotton trees, provide critters with a chew source
and nesting material that helps pets clean and trim their teeth, the manufacturer stated.
Inspired by emojis, the wooden Kaytee Chew-Moji has facial expressions created with pet-safe vegetable dye
colors and is designed to help clean and trim teeth.
The Kaytee Toss & Learn Carrot Game is designed to easily mount to any wire cage and encourage interactive play during treat time, said Jason Castro, director of Pets International-Kaytee.
Small-animal habitat enhancers from Imperial Cat in Morrilton, Ark., were also
launched in the spring. Made of recycled corrugate, the nontoxic enhancers are made to
play on, sleep on, chew on and hide in, said Ginger Bussey, vice president. And they are
made in the company’s plant in Arkansas.
Greenfeather Bird Supply LLC in West Hartford, Conn., has introduced several small
mammal products since spring, starting with the Critter Wrap. The corrugated board—
which has nontoxic, nonanimal white glue—is wrapped around Oxbow timothy hay,
sustainable grapevine or organic apple sticks, and a mix of dried flowers, grasses and
herbs. It’s pegged with paper sticks as well as colored and uncolored hardwood shapes
to offer plenty to chew and forage with, said Dena Tucker, president and owner.
The company’s Rings on Loop toy features four parrot rings, three hardwood rings
and a toss/chew toy for critters, all on thick butterflied paper rope. Nubbie Tube Totem includes two thick paper
rope arms, 12 sustainably grown hardwood disks with water-based-ink printed images and four organic apple
wood chunks or sustainable grapevine on a 5.25-inch Nubbie Tube center.
New this month, stores and critter owners can look for Greenfeather’s Roll-A-Long and the Nubbie Totem
Chew Stix. Roll-A-Long has two sustainably grown hardwood disks with water-based-ink printed images and
two thick hardwood wheels that are sandwiched between thick paper rope of sustainable grapevine and organic
apple wood. Nubbie Totem Chew Stix contains eight hardwood shapes on paper rope.
Bird Kabob in Carlsbad, Calif., plans to launch its Mini Bunny Blast, an all-natural toy for dwarf-size bunnies.
“The 100-percent biodegradable toy is made from yucca and can stand up on the end or roll while on the
side,” said Wes Payne, president.
4 TIPS TO OPTIMIZE
Essential for category success is an ideal selection of treats, toys and chews for small mammals. To ensure pet specialty retailers are carrying a fitting collection, insiders offered several recommendations.
1. Know your customer base.
“You need to know your customer base and what are they drawn to,” said Dena
Tucker, president and owner of Greenfeather Bird Supply in West Hartford,
2. Branch out.
In addition to providing what customers want, Tucker added, store selection
should include “some things that [they] might find interesting to get customers
to try something a little different.”
Jason Castro, director of Chilton, Wis.-based Pets International-Kaytee, a
division of Central Garden & Pet Co., agreed with the emphasis on choices.
“The most important thing is selection and keeping the treat, chews and
toy category fresh with a variety of different products,” he said, adding that
the product range should include “smaller to larger piece shapes to cover the
variety of different species,” as well as different textures for cleaning, trimming
and grinding pets’ teeth.
3. Listen to the experts.
Several insiders highlighted trade shows and vendor reps as assets in making
sure pet specialty retailers have an appropriate variety.
“We work with our vendors, go to trade shows and listen to what our
customers want,” said Dan Lavallee, manager of Pet World in Natick, Mass.
Stefan Wawrzynski, operations director for Brisky Pet Products in Franklin-
4. Bundle for beginners.
ville, N. Y., added that “online research, magazine articles and recommendations
of customers, breeders and animal wholesalers can be great sources to learn
about and ultimately decide on product lineups.”
And don’t forget your own expertise derived from personal experience, said
Anita Ledtje, owner and manager of For Other Living Things in Sunnyvale, Calif.
Ginger Bussey, vice president of Imperial Cat in Morrilton, Ark., suggested
that retailers offer some product bundles that provide new pet owners with
everything they need in one box.
“It might be confusing, especially for the first-time small-mammal owner,
to decide what they actually need,” she said.
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