Pet Age

November 4, 2016

Stumbling upon an interesting article a few days ago revealed information that really bears discussing. According to a 2008 survey conducted by the British Survey of Herpetologists in the United Kingdom, reptiles have now outpaced dogs as pets within the UK.

Approximately 8 million reptiles call the British Isles home, compared to approximately 6.5 million dogs. Some statisticians have estimated that reptiles may soon match cats as the UK’s favorite pets!

Given this news, it’s high time that we take another look at the leader of reptile sales: the bearded dragon. Alongside the veiled chameleon and ball python, the bearded dragon joins a triumvirate of reptiles that any savvy pet store owner simply cannot ignore.

Native to Australia’s deserts, the bearded dragon (genus Pogona) is a typically docile, personable reptile that actively enjoys being touched, pet and handled by their owners. Furthermore, bearded dragons are diurnal, meaning they share active waking hours with their owners. Their natural curiosity, coupled with a mild temperament, can make bearded dragons ideal pets for a new customer.

The bearded dragon’s popularity has led to extensive work by breeders to establish new morphs and colorations. Variations like the German giant, leatherback and silkback bearded dragons provide a significant variety. While most bearded dragons show a mix of gray, green and tan as their primary colors, breeders have produced varieties in red, yellow and even white colorations. In terms of sheer variety, bearded dragons appeal to both veteran and novice reptile keepers.

Bearded dragons prefer an arid, desert environment with generally low humidity levels and a suitable basking spot, which may reach near 100° F. In the wild, some bearded dragons can go for years without being exposed to liquid water. However, consider misting your bearded dragons with a spray bottle.

While water can be offered in a shallow dish, excess humidity can be harmful to them. Bearded dragons also require UVB light, enabling them to synthesize vitamin D3, which helps them properly absorb calcium.

A juvenile bearded dragon can eat between 15 and 20 crickets a day, plus another 10 mealworms and greens. While most owners should shift their bearded dragon over to a primarily greens-based diet as it reaches adulthood, the potential profit on a single bearded dragon purchase should be apparent to a store owner.

If a customer purchases a tub of crickets every 7 days, that level of frequency becomes approximately 50 tubs of crickets in a year. Note that this does not count mealworms, greens, lighting, caging, substrate or any other subsidiary purchase necessary for the care of their bearded dragon. With even a standard profit margin on crickets, the net profit gained from a single bearded dragon sale can prove to be well worth the investment.

One potential hurdle to be aware of involves the risk of salmonella. While all reptiles—in fact, all pets—have the ability to harbor harmful bacteria, bearded dragons have gained some unfortunate press due to a series of contaminations in 2014. Considering that bearded dragons appreciate touch more than most other reptiles, the likelihood for contamination comparatively increases.

Educating your staff of the dangers of bacterial contamination should be one of your store’s basic goals. Staff members are not only the primary handlers of your animals, but also the connection between you and your customers. Staff should wear gloves and protective gear when cleaning enclosures. Also consider installing sanitizer dispensers near reptile displays, allowing those in contact with a reptile to sterilize their hands.

A worldwide leader in pet reptile sales, bearded dragons are worth the time and investment as they form the backbone of a store’s reptile sales.

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