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Reptile Must-Haves

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Last issue, we discussed the history of the reptile trade, particularly in terms of its vital importance in any modern pet store. With the advent of captive breeding as a regular practice, pet stores can better stock and supply these in-demand animals.

However, the question remains, as a would-be reptile seller, where do you start?

There are several key elements to assess when looking at stocking reptiles for sale. The biggest of these are likely price point and care requirements. Many stores often overlook the second of these, in favor of focus on pure cost, which can prove to be a major mistake.

In the past, many pet stores chose to stock iguanas, citing their relatively low price point and their popularity, as iguanas were one of the first reptiles to be farm-bred.  However, iguanas are notably difficult animals to properly care for, particularly for a first-time reptile owner.

Not only does this mean that iguanas require more significant in-house care, but also that would-be customers may shy away from such an animal or even return it after purchase, resulting in overall loss.  By contrast, the bearded dragon makes for a much better “introductory” reptile.

They have much lower care requirements than iguanas, while maintaining a similarly low price point.

Proper Needs

Care requirements are of particular note, because of their two-fold nature. Many of your customers will likely be first-time reptile owners, only starting to learn how to properly care for their chosen reptile.  One way to assess your store’s reptile needs is to think in terms of stepping stones. Start off with easier-to-care-for, elementary animals to establish a sales base in your community before moving on to more advanced reptiles.

For lizards, consider providing a combination of green anoles, bearded dragons and leopard geckos to start. The bearded dragon is particularly easy to care for and sells well in today’s market.

Leopard geckos, similarly, are relatively easy to care for and can even be housed two to a 10-gallon cage, making care easier on the store level.

Veiled chameleons provide a quality advanced option, though they require more advanced temperature and humidity regulation than either the leopard gecko or bearded dragon.

In terms of frogs, consider starting with a White’s Tree Frog. They are hardier than many other frog varieties, making them an ideal starting animal for a would-be reptile owner. Further, the White’s Tree Frog can be fed with small crickets, making their overall care relatively easy, especially when coupled with reptiles that feed on similar insects.

The Pacman Frog, also known as the Horned Frog, provides an easy entry for a beginner frog owner, though be sure to note that the Pacman Frog can grow to upwards of 7 inches in length, which may be a detraction for some buyers.

While popular and visually appealing, the various species of poison dart frogs should definitely be considered as advanced pets due to their small size, their humidity requirements and their delicate skin.

Snakes, too, require careful consideration when deciding upon beginner stock.  One popular starting point for many stars is the colubrid family, which includes King Snakes, Corn Snakes and Milk Snakes.  Colubrids have relatively simple requirements for feeding and cleaning and come in a variety of colorful morphs and patterns.

Ball pythons also have relatively light care requirements.

In terms of tortoises and turtles, consider entering with Russian Tortoises or Red-Footed Tortoises. In both cases, care requirements are relatively light.

A great reptile sale is a matter of matching up the right customer to the right animal.

A good fit results in a customer that returns, creating repeat business for your store and continued patronage.

- John Mack

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