July 1, 2015

What Customers Want

Why do hobbyists feed packaged diets?

“Convenience is probably why most consumers turn to packaged reptile foods,” said Ashley Rademacher, Animal Care and Education Coordinator at Zoo Med. “We have made it our objective to provide this convenience without compromising nutrition.”

Allen Repashy, CEO of Repashy Superfoods, mostly agrees.

“Convenience goes a long ways in a reptile food product,” he said. “Convenience is a driving force but knowing a professionally formulated product takes the guess work out of homemade formulations is also very important. A good reptile food addresses both convenience and health, and knowing there is a good food alternate available can often be the final decision making consideration in the bit step of purchasing a reptile.”

The packaged reptile foods on the market today offer convenience to the hobbyist and excellent nutrition to the pet.

Endless Variety

The variety of packaged herp foods keeps increasing, with more companies producing new foods all the time.

While Hikari is well known for its fish foods, it also makes packaged diets for reptiles and amphibians. Hikari’s herp foods include Pac Attack for pacman frogs (aka horned frogs), Saki-Hikari Turtle for aquatic turtles; Bio-Pure freeze-dried and frozen Blood Worms, Krill, and Gammarus for a number of amphibians and Sinking Carnivore Pellets for carnivorous aquatic frogs.

The Pac Attack is one of the newer offerings.

“Pac Attack allows the user to instantly feed without having to mix powder and pat in to a ball,” said Hikari president, Chris Clevers. “Just hold the pellet in a tweezers, dunk it in pure water for a few seconds and feed directly to your pacman frog. Easy! The diet offers excellent nutrition, high feed efficiency, rapid growth and coloration too.”

Zoo Med Labs also offers a food for these frogs in the form of a powder that gets mixed with water to form a dough.

“Preparing the food is simple and the animals will eagerly ambush this food-bite in the same way they would naturally with live food,” said Rademacher.

Zilla offers a dehydrated food with their Reptile Munchies, available in these varieties: Omnivore Mix, Vegetable Mix, Fruit Mix, Vegetable and Fruit Mix, Mealworms, and River Shrimp. With all this variety, a wide range of species can eat these diets.

“Our newest product will be the Zilla Reptile Munchies in Trial Sizes,” said Ryan McVeigh, Brand Manager, Central Garden & Pet.  “These are a great option to get someone started and see how their pet likes it and which variety they enjoy more.  Each Trial Size will also have a $1 off coupon on the back to go towards a larger bag.”

Zoo Med has a wide range of reptile foods available, from canned diets (Can O’ Snails, etc.) to species-specific pellets to dried shrimp and insects. Zoo Med’s newest reptile food is their Gourmet line, available in four varieties: Bearded Dragon Food, Tortoise Food, Box Turtle Food, and ReptiSticks (for aquatic turtles). These diets combine a complete pelleted diet with species-appropriate dried treats.

Mazuri offers diets for many herps, including bearded dragons, carnivorous lizards, insectivorous lizards, iguanas and other herbivorous lizards, amphibians and turtles and tortoises.

Repashy Superfoods offers a wide range of diets for reptiles, amphibians, insects and more. The company is probably most famous for its crested gecko diet.

“Our crested gecko foods allow hobbyists to keep this species and other fruit-loving reptiles without the need for live insects,” said Allen Repashy, CEO of Repashy Superfoods. “This has opened up a new consumer market by eliminating the often deal-breaking requirement to purchase and maintain live insects.”

Repashy diets come in two types sold in powdered form. The crested gecko diets are mixed with water and fed as a paste. The other diets are mixed with hot water and allowed to cool to a gel.
“These formulas can be poured into molds, made into blocks for cutting, or even poured over surfaces in the case of our algae based formulas for tadpoles and fish,” said Repashy.
“Our newest, and revolutionary gel premix formula, Grub Pie, is based on black soldier fly larva meal, and has the potential to eliminate the need for insects with species such as bearded dragons, leopard geckos, skinks, and other species that are known as pure insectivores. We are confident this formula will be a game changer in the way we keep reptiles in the future.”

For the Turtles

Packaged foods for turtles remain strong sellers in this category.

The ReptoMin line of floating food sticks for turtles, amphibians and other aquatic herps has long been a staple in the hobby.

Manufactured by Tetra, a division of United Pet Group, ReptoMin is high in nutrional value and manufactured to strict standards, according to Tim Plafcan, UPG Aquatics, Senior Product Manager, Consumables.

“ReptoMin products have proven to be readily accepted by dozens of species,” said Plafcan. “Food size is also critically important, whether for juveniles, adults, or large turtles – ReptoMin is available in pellets, baby sticks, regular, and jumbo sticks.”

Tetra also offers the ReptoTreat Delica, made of whole bloodworms in a nutrient-fortified gel that can be squeezed out of the package for easy feeding.

The ingredients in Saki Hikari Turtle diet set it apart, according to Clevers.

“Saki-Hikari Turtle is the first turtle food on the market that contains a probiotic,” he said. “The coupled with the odor-stop ingredient mix offers a reduction in ammonia smell by up to 88 percent over competitive turtle foods. The bacteria from the Hikari-Germ (the probiotic) remains active in the waste once it leave the turtles’ body and helps decompose it making it easier for the bio-action of the filter to handle it.”

Stocking a variety of reptile foods and educating customers as to their benefits will bring in the business.

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