BY JENNIFER HIGGINS
When it comes to providing variety for hungry herps, reptile keepers have a wide array of choices. Some choose to get out the cutting board to slice and dice fruits or veggies for a salad and toss some meal worms on top as if they were croutons. Others may not have time to assemble a delight of custom crafted greens and opt for something pre-made or fare that may just require the addition of some water before it is served.
Coming up with novel ways to provide needed nutrients to reptiles is a niche easily filled by many manufacturers. Allen Repashy of Repashy Superfoods is an example of someone with the ingenuity to do that.
His company has just released a new gel delicacy for reptiles called Banana Cream Pie, which he describes as “a great treat for omnivorous reptiles and makes great enrichment.”
Repashy’s big sellers are the various gecko diets, followed by its Grub Pie Gel Food and Calcium Plus insect dusting powder. Repashy has additional products hitting the market, including Bluey Buffet, a blue tongue skink gel food that blends insect, plant, fruit and egg ingredients for omnivores.
“We focus on being innovative and were the first company to incorporate black soldier fly larva meal in reptile and fish formulas,” Repashy said. “We enjoy making species specific niche products that will bring the advanced hobbyists to your store. We understand the struggle that independent stores have in today’s market and offer specific pricing and reduced minimum order quantities to brick and mortar stores to help compete with the online marketplace.”
Reptile Rapture’s owner and operator, Richard Allen, can’t say enough good things about Repashy’s offerings. Allen is consistently impressed with the quality ingredients. He feels that Repashy products are “good quality, well balanced and palatable… they have an assortment, maintain the proper protein percentages and offer so much variety.”
Allen feeds his own reptiles and breeding stock Repashy and sees amazing results. He feels as though Repashy puts in the time to research and find novel combinations for variety, yet still maintains the proper nutritional value in their foods.
David Hanono of T-Rex Reptile Supplies recently introduced its Bearded Dragon Gourmet Food and would like retailers to know that.
“This gourmet food is not our pelleted food with meal worms added to it,” he said. “It is a completely different food that we have been testing with our bearded dragons for over two years.”
Hanono described it as “dehydrated veggies with meal worms, and all you do is add hot water to re-hydrate the veggies. It’s a great convenience food for someone that does not want to chop up veggies.”
What’s even more impressive is, once hydrated, the 4-ounce jar will make 28 servings, roughly one pound of food. However, for store owners who are concerned that customers may shy away from purchasing large amounts of food that their coldblooded companions may not prefer, Hanono has a solution.
“Three of our foods are now packaged in a trial size,” Hanono said. “This allows retailers to sell a small package of the food so the consumer can try it out. We have it in our Bearded Dragon Gourmet Food, Tortoise Dry Formula and Box Turtle Dry Formula.”
Hanono has observed, based on the purchasing behavior of retailers who order from T-Rex, that the Bearded Dragon Gourmet, as well as the Tortoise Dry Formula, are among his best sellers.
According to Hanono, T-Rex also is “developing new foods and supplements in response to consumer demands for more natural, high quality nutrition in their animal’s food. Huge advancements in technology are making innovation in this area exciting.”
Hanono wants retailers to understand that, at T-Rex, the “focus is to produce innovative products to enable hobbyists to provide the best quality of life for their animals.”
Zoo Med, a household name in the reptile category, continues to provide comparable yet diverse choices for retailers to entice their customers.
“In hopes of providing excellent nutrition in user-friendly form for many different species, we are proud to supply a wide variety of packaged food for reptiles,” said Ashley Rademacher, Zoo Med’s animal care and education coordinator.
Zoo Med recently unveiled several types of reptile food.
“Zoo Med’s new, improved Crested Gecko Food boasts many exciting changes and new features,” Rademacher said. “After years of testing over multiple generations, our new Crested Gecko food has been formulated to support all life stages.
This new formula is made up of over 50 percent fruit and insects, the natural diet of these animals.”
She added that Zoo Med has recently released a new insect meal ingredient, Black Soldier Fly Larva, which has a “positive calcium to phosphorus ratio which is excellent for growth, reproduction and general health of reptiles.”
Rademacher also wants retailers to know that Zoo Med has “also added a source of four different viable, naturally occurring microorganisms (probiotics), and the food has been milled to a finer consistency which has proven to make it more palatable.”
Clearly, Zoo Med Labs has been busy at work , concocting new and better varieties of reptile food items to meet the needs of retail customers and their happy herps. This is evidenced in their new line of canned invertebrates, Can O’ Cockroaches and Can O’ Silkworms.
“Can O’ Silkworms are a soft bodied invertebrate, cooked right in the can to maintain nutritional integrity,” Rademacher said. “These worms are a good source of amino acids and healthy, polyunsaturated fats. Can O’ Cockroaches are energy dense and great for picky eaters. Other items in our Can O’ line include mealworms, mini mealies, superworms, crickets, mini-sized crickets, grasshoppers, snails and shrimp.”
Rademacher suggests that reptile owners use Can O’s to add variety to the diet of insectivorous, carnivorous and omnivorous species.
So whether retailers are catering to newcomers in the world of reptile keeping or to veteran keepers and breeders, there is something for everyone. Research, innovation and creativity in recipes, nutritional needs and packaging keep pet manufacturers and, therefore, the retailers who buy from them, on the cutting edge of production. Keeping or breeding reptiles as pets is evolving every day with the growing demands of pet owners.