Reptiles and their owners appreciate the tech-free simplicity of merchandise provided by Mother Nature—from perky crickets for dinner to bona fide rocks for basking. But it’s the products you plug in that can have a dramatic effect on the health and longevity of herps and the long-term satisfaction of their keepers. Smart retailers who’ve seen the light are careful to stock plenty of the latest lighting, heating and humidity goods.
Before such products were made commercially available, reptiles that came with a higher level of care were difficult to keep alive in captivity.
“Only the hardiest of reptiles thrived in captivity because the needs of some of the more specialized species could not be met,” said Jason Oneppo, research and development manager for San Francisco Bay Brand/Healthy Herp in Newark, California.
He remembers the days in the early ’80s when a hot rock represented the only commercially available heating product for reptiles.
“We’ve come a long way from the days when you’d have to fill a spray bottle with hot tap water and mist down the terrarium to increase humidity—things like ultrasonic foggers have solved that problem,” Oneppo said.
Lighting the Way
Addie Schuhle from Phoenix-based Pet Food Depot says halogen lighting continues to be in vogue today.
“Fixtures nowadays are much smaller than previous lighting products, and many have a matte finish that look nicer on display,” Schuhle said.
An example of the smaller light trend is Zilla’s Halogen Mini Dome, which takes up less room atop a terrarium without sacrificing heat or light. ReptileUV, meanwhile, recently introduced splash-resistant halogen lamps in the form of Brightrite.
“Companies are now incorporating LED lighting into terrariums, and many of these products have color-changing capabilities that make for an attractive display, creating almost a nightclub-type effect when the lights are combined with a fogger and waterfall,” said Oneppo, who cites Zoo Med’s ReptiBreeze LED Deluxe as an example. “Also, in recent years, more metal halide bulbs have been appearing on the scene for use with reptiles.”
Case in point: The new PowerSun High Intensity Discharge Metal Halide UVB Lamp and fixture by Zoo Med, ideal for larger enclosures, emits UVA, UVB and heat all from one lamp. The innovative lamp construction creates a true flood-lamp effect, eliminating dangerous UV hot spots common to other metal halide reptile lamps, and the 6500 K color temperature and 95 CRI emitted by the lamp make the cage and its contents appear richer and more vibrant.
Zoo Med’s new Nano lamps and fixtures, on the other hand, fit the bill perfectly for smaller terrariums geared toward geckos, amphibians, invertebrates and hatchling reptiles. The Nano line includes a dome fixture, combo dome fixture, 5-watt LED, 35-watt halogen heat lamp, ceramic heat emitters, infrared heat lamps and basking spot lamps, each available in 25- and 40-watt sizes.
Space- and power-saving designs drive manufacturers, such as ReptileUV recently rolling out its Mega-Ray 60-watt Lightless Infrared Heat Projector, which projects a soft penetrating heat in a forward direction, emitting more heat than a traditional 100-watt ceramic heat emitter but without risk of burning a reptile. And the Slimline Reptile Lighting Fixture with UVB Lamp by Zilla boasts an ultra-economical florescent strip light product in a modular plastic housing that mounts easily on top of a tank.
More overseas products are infusing the American marketplace, too, as evidenced by Arcadia’s D3 6 percent T8 Reptile Lamp from Europe now available in North America and designed for ideal vitamin D synthesis and a high UVA output (30 percent).
Innovative humidifier products have recently hit the market, such as Exo Terra’s Monsoon Solo, a programmable misting system that generates a fine mist at programmed intervals to maintain optimum humidity.
Johnathan Dolev, an associate with Galapagos Reptile Gear, says natural products like moss are natural humidity-boosting alternatives that are in demand.
“Royal pillow moss, for example, absorbs a massive amount of water and looks a lot better than plastic or silk botanicals because it’s a real product,” Dolev said.
These additions to your inventory can improve your herp-related sales.