When considering different packaged foods, reptile owners make their selections based on similar criteria as other pet owners. They want the foods to be healthy and, ideally, natural.
“Reptile keepers’ number one concern is whether the food is providing their animal with the proper nutrients required to keep them healthy,” said Trevor MacLean, national director of sales and support at Seachem Labs/JurassiPet Reptile Products.
“As with food in general, pet owners are looking for more natural foods,” said Ryan McVeigh, brand manager of Central Garden & Pet, makers of the Zilla brand of reptile products. “Zilla focused on that with the Reptile Munchies by formulating these diets using dehydrated whole pieces of vegetables, fruits, and insects.”
The Reptile Munchies line consists of four varieties of complete dehydrated diets, Fruit Mix, Omnivore Mix, Vegetable Mix and Vegetable & Fruit Mix.
Why Feed Packaged Foods?
There are many reasons reptile keepers choose packaged foods over live or fresh foods. For one, some keepers do not like to deal with live food.
“Packaged foods offer a more convenient and less messy way to feed your animals,” MacLean said. “Many people are discouraged in having to feed live insects because they are noisy, they smell, and you have to house and feed them as well if you plan to keep more than one serving at a time. Packaged diets encourage those turned off by having to feed live prey that keeping reptiles and amphibians is not so creepy after all!”
Some are looking for convenience and reliable availability.
“When it comes to reptile foods, there are times where something may not be available,” McVeigh said. “In the upper portion of the United States, finding fresh crisp greens is difficult in the winter. [Packaged] foods provide a nutritional and balanced diet any time a food source isn’t available. They also are a quick and easy way to provide a varied diet without having to buy a bunch of different veggies and insects and mix them yourself.”
Some owners like packaged diets for their nutritional benefits.
“They provide a full and nutritional diet so you don’t have to worry about missing any essential vitamins or minerals your animal needs,” McVeigh said.
Diets tailored to the needs of specific species or groups of species are popular with reptile and amphibian keepers.
Pangea Reptile Foods offers complete diets for geckos in a range of fruit flavors. According to the Pangea website, the diets are appropriate for crested geckos and their relatives as well as for day geckos. They contain a mix of fruits, egg white, spirulina, bee pollen, whey protein and probiotics to make them a complete healthy diet for these lizards.
The JurassiPet line of JurassiDiets from SeaChem offers complete diets for bearded dragons, aquatic turtles, newts and frogs, and hermit crabs.
“With the JurassiPet diets, you can rest assured you are getting all of the essential nutrients needed for your pet reptile or amphibian,” MacLean said. “Not only that, but we ensure that all of the nutrients are in the correct ratio for proper absorption. For example: The Ca:P [calcium to phosphorus] ratio should be no less than 1.2:1, and is ideally maintained from 2:1 up to 8:1 depending on the species. JurassiDiet distinguishes itself from the competitors by employing a calcium-rich base, alfalfa. Alfalfa has a Ca:P ratio of 6:1.”
JurassiPet also offers a range of canned invertebrates, the EasiDiet line. Varieties include EasiPillar (caterpillars), EasiShrimp (river shrimp), EasiHopper (grasshoppers), and EasiDragon (dragonfly larvae).
Zilla offers Fortified diets for specific types of reptiles, including iguanas, bearded dragons, land turtles and tortoises, and aquatic turtles. They offer complete nutrition for these species.
For aquatic turtles, Zilla offers two types of treats, Turtle Chasers Floating Treats with Real Shrimp and Turtle Chasers Floating Treats with Real Clam. According to the website, the treats float and bob on the water, encouraging turtles to chase them around the habitat.
Zoo Med’s new Gourmet reptile diets are available in five varieites. Each variety contains healthy pellets; dried fruits, including blueberries, cranberries and strawberries, dried vegetables and dried insects (depending on the diet).
When it comes to selling packaged reptile foods, education is key.
“Knowing the differences between the options and understanding what makes them beneficial will help retailers to sell the packaged foods,” MacLean said. “Being able to explain to them that live prey is not their only option will encourage more customers to become interested in either keeping a reptile or amphibian for themselves or purchasing one for their children. Many parents shy away from allowing their kids to keep reptiles because they don’t know enough about it and instantly think that it will be too much of a hassle. However, if they are well educated about all of the different options in the hobby, it becomes much less daunting to them.”