There has been a certain amount of unease in the reptile-keeping community about the increasing difficulty of selling reptiles. Many people attribute this to the market being flooded as the number of new breeders grows, the tough economic times or the levelling off of new reptile enthusiasts. Gecko Time decided to find out what’s going on from the vendors themselves at the recent Reptile Expo in Manchester NH on January 29.
The Reptile Expo in Manchester is the largest reptile show in New England and is run by Bruce Lowder who also orchestrates Reptile Expos in White Plains and Long Island New York (www.reptileexpo.com). The recent show included over a hundred vendors. Gecko Time spoke to eight vendors representing all different levels of the hobby and asked them to respond to these four questions about 2/3 of the way through the show:
- What is your name and, if applicable, your business name and contact information?
- Approximately how many geckos did you bring to the show and of what species?
- How have your sales been at this show and compared to other shows?
- What would you like gecko keepers, prospective breeders and customers to know about the hobby and the market?
Granite State Geckos
Bill Anderson and Rhona Anderson
We brought 11 leopard geckos to the show and have sold 6 so far. This show is a lot busier with a lot more activity and interest than previous shows in Manchester. I don’t know if it’s the time of the year, or people just needing to get out since it’s the end of January.
I feel that people should know more abut the care of the leopard geckos they buy. I always print care sheets so people can know if it’s something they can handle or feel comfortable with. I don’t want those impulse buyers who just come by and get something without knowing anything about it. I want people to know how to care for the animals they buy. We brought a huge stack of care-sheets and now we only have one left. Another thing: a lot of people still have a misconception about keeping leopard geckos on sand. We try to educate people about not keeping them on sand; keep them on paper towels or on tile. Tile is easier to clean and holds heat better.
samanthasgeckos.com / facebook.com/samanthasgeckos
I brought 14 crested geckos to the show. I sold 6 geckos, about half of what I brought. The show is going better than the October show here in Manchester and a million times better than the Bangor (Maine) show. I also did really well at the Portland (Maine) show in December.
What I want people to know is that crested geckos are the easiest, most low maintenance geckos. They don’t need bugs to eat, they can live on powdered crested gecko diet. An interesting factiod is that crested geckos don’t grow their tails back. Another big thing: do not feed baby food ever. Make sure when going to get a crested gecko to research multiple sources. Regarding breeders: the market is pretty full. Crested geckos breed easily but it’s easy to get overwhelmed. Don’t go into breeding to make money; you will likely not be successful. Personally, I want a hobby that will provide enough revenue to support itself.
Kevin Smith [email protected]
I brought 3 gargoyle geckos to the show. I didn’t sell any animals but sold a lot of Repashy MRP. This has been a good show in terms of product sales. I want people to know that it’s important to ask questions of the person you’re buying from. You want to know where the gecko you’re thinking of buying came from, who produced it, and what are the care requirements. Sometimes people just buy something and don’t know how to care for it. You may come to a show and see something you like, but don’t just buy it. I want my customers to ask about things. They need to find out about which items it needs. You need to be discriminating about whether the vendor knows about the animal’s care or cares how the animals will be treated. If you do your homework before you get to the show you’ll know if the seller is honest and knows what they’re selling and how to care for it.
Matt Casazza [email protected]
I brought 5 gargoyle geckos and a sikora to the show. Two of them had been promised to someone in advance. This is my first show selling geckos. I sold 4 geckos and an egg.
I feel it’s important that the animal get a good home and not be sold to someone who’s going to be sick of it down the road and neglect it.
I brought about 70 gargoyle geckos, 4 chahouas and 30 crested geckos to the show. This has been a really good show. At the last show I didn’t sell to anyone other than vendors but this show has been great. I’ve sold a lot to customers and to the vendors as well; I’ve sold about half of everything I brought.
It’s important to make sure you do the research before you buy. If you buy a crested gecko and ask me if it lives on sand — I don’t want to have that conversation. As far as breeding goes: Why not breed? It’s fun. There’s nothing like seeing eggs, watching them hatch. It never gets old.
I brought mostly Rhacodactylus geckos to the show –about 90% of my show inventory. I also brought a few day geckos and a few rare species of gecko. I had had some pre-sale commitments so that was fine and I had a couple of other things going. It was better than the first show I did here though not as good as the show in White Plains (New York). There were a lot of people with a lot of questions. At the White Plains show, a lot of people are buying their first reptile. Here, people are just asking questions but not buying as much.
Hobbyists should know that the stuff I sell is fairly easy to care for and buying captive bred animals is much better than buying wild-caught animals. Taking stuff out of the wild is not a good idea. As for the breeders: it depends on what you want to breed. It’s tough to make a living out of it and that can cause it to become no fun anymore. If you love working with the animals, great and so what; if I did it as just to make money I’d hate it. If you really enjoy them and want to work with them reptiles are awesome to work with; Rhacs are really easy and you can do quantity without it being a nightmare.
I brought leopard and crested geckos: 12 leos and 8 cresties. I found sales at the show pretty good. I sold all but one of the leos and no crested geckos but we sold a lot of supplies. It’s been better than the average show lately.
It’s encouraging that there are a lot of people breeding leopard geckos and that there’s a lot of interest and more people seem to know more about leos. It’s a fun hoobby to be in. I’d like to get involved with more different species of geckos so I can offer a wider variety. I’m currently expanding my collection. I’m adding gargoyles and day geckos, also pictus gecko – I have a breeding pair. In the store people are looking for the smaller species.
We deal in lizards and snakes. We brought 9 fat tails to the show and sold 8.
That’s about average in terms of gecko sales (we usually sell 90-95% of the geckos we bring).
In my opinion, if you’re going to get into geckos because you love them, by all means buy as many as you want. If you do it because you think you can make a lot of money and it’s simple don’t do it: it’s not as simple as you think. You can end up producing a lower quality animal to put into the trade which we do not need.
As you can see, there is a surprising amount of agreement among the vendors about certain issues. Based on what this representative sample has to say, do you think the enthusiasm is gone? Has the market tanked? We’ll leave you to draw your own conclusions.