Choosing which reptiles your store will provide to customers can be difficult. But, without any exaggeration, your store’s best chance at successful reptile sales comes from lizards. Lizards come in nearly countless morphs, colors, patterns and species, allowing for huge variation within your store’s selection.
Further, lizards have much less of a stigma than snakes. While a number of people still view snakes with fear or nervousness, those same people often show fewer reservations when viewing or handling lizards.
The Big Three
We have often advocated species of lizards as perfect starter animals, ideal for both a pet owner new to reptiles and for a pet store beginning to sell reptiles for the very first time. At the head of these is the bearded dragon, which outsells nearly any other reptile. However, the numerous varieties and morphs of leopard and crested geckos have skyrocketed these species into the upper echelons of reptile sales. In all three cases, these reptiles have proven to have the ideal combination of ease of care, voracious appetite and color/pattern appeal to make them perfect reptiles for a new sales display.
Retailers may wish to pursue some additional variety in the form of the green and brown anoles. From a pet store perspective, anoles can easily become cash cows: they are inexpensive to stock, easy to keep, don’t require much in the way of care but are voracious in appetite. The two types of anoles differ most in their choice of habitat. Green anoles tend to be more arboreal while brown anoles are typically ground-dwelling. Both anoles tend to be highly active and can provide a great deal of amusement for owners.
Unlike most reptiles, anoles can be kept in a group. Typically, an enclosure of anoles should contain one male in the company of several females. Males may become quarrelsome if caged together.
An anole enclosure does provide a reptile owner with numerous options in terms of decoration and function. They appreciate numerous logs, branches and plants to crawl around on. Ensure that your store has ample options in terms of cage decoration. Anoles also require warm temperatures, so stock the needed heating and lighting elements.
Matching the Lizard to the Customer
One important factor to consider when stocking lizards is the activity cycle of the lizards in question. New reptile owners are often dissatisfied with purchased reptiles when those reptiles are not active while the pet owner is awake. This demonstrates a lack of education between the store owner and the consumer. When stocking reptiles, particularly lizards, make a concerted effort to display whether a given reptile is diurnal or nocturnal.
One of the reasons bearded dragons and veiled chameleons are popular is that both species are diurnal. They are active at the same time as their owners, making them more appealing as pets. Anoles are also active during the day which helps make them a perfect entry animal into reptile keeping.
Of course, any pet store’s ultimate goal is twofold: to match up would-be pet owners with an ideal pet while simultaneously making a reasonable profit. The core of that potential profit is subsidiary sales that accompany any initial reptile sale. The greatest of these is food. Most of the lizards in this article eat crickets and other live insects. A display of multiple lizards can be voracious, particularly considering the fact that lizards need to be fed daily. This equates to several dozens of crickets per week for an enclosure, which must be refreshed weekly at your store. Establishing a positive relationship with a new lizard owner can surely pay dividends for a well-stocked store.
One last item to be aware of when stocking anoles is their susceptibility to stress. Typically, this occurs when being handled, being threatened by a predator—perhaps a curious housecat—or when the environment changes—if the enclosure is too warm or cold. If stressed, an anole will change color. Green anoles will turn brown, gray or even black. Pay close attention any color change in your anoles, as they might indicate that something may be wrong. Extended color changes may indicate that an anole is sick or otherwise unwell, beyond the above stressors. Keep a close eye on your reptiles and ensure that your staff is well educated as to what your animals require in terms of care. And, of course, extend this knowledge to your customers; they will surely thank you for it.