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Top 5 Things to Share with Customers of Reptile Pets

Discussing this information with potential reptile owners will set them and the pets up for success.




Bearded Dragon in hand

NATIONAL REPTILE AWARENESS DAY happens in October, but it’s always a good time to share information about the wonderful world of reptile pets with your customers. In fact, with informed selection and proper care, reptiles such as lizards, snakes and turtles can make the perfect pet companion.

Reptiles have definite advantages over dogs and cats — they don’t bark, shed fur or scratch or chew the furniture — but they also have characteristics and care requirements that are important for your customers to know before they embark upon a reptile ownership journey.

Over 4.5 million American households own reptile pets, according to the 2019-2020 American Pet Products Association National Pet Owners Survey. John Mack, who owns Reptiles by Mack in Xenia, OH, and is the current Board Chair of the Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council, expects that number to grow as more people recognize the benefits of pet companionship to help cope with social isolation and stress during the pandemic.

There are hundreds of fascinating and unique reptile species commonly kept as pets, in a wide range of sizes, shapes and colors to fit different preferences, space limitations or other care considerations of their owners. Here are the top five things your store associates should discuss with customers who are considering a reptile as their next pet:

1. Legality

While there are over 9 million pet reptiles in the United States, not every type is legal to own. Make sure your customer has checked the state and local laws in the state they live in to see if the specific reptile they are considering is allowed.

2. Lifespan

Make sure the customer knows a reptile pet can provide what may be decades of enjoyment, and also responsibility. Depending on the species, in captivity lizards can live from three to 30 years, frogs for 10, and some tortoise lifespans exceed 50 years.


3. Habitat

Reptiles thrive in many different environments in the wild. Providing the suitable temperature, humidity and lighting that imitates that natural environment is essential for creating and maintaining a healthy habitat. Make sure your associates know what equipment and accessories they should recommend for each specific reptile pet.

4. Handling

Proper handling is essential to protect both the reptile’s and your customers’ health. Like most animals, reptiles may be carriers of bacteria that can lead to illness in humans, so among other precautions, it is essential that your associates and your customers follow equipment disinfecting guidelines and wash their hands thoroughly with soap and water after handling a reptile, its food, waste or habitat.

5. Diet

Reptile species have a variety of specific dietary needs. Some can be fed processed pellets or fruit or vegetables, but others require a live diet like rodents for snakes, or crickets for lizards and iguanas. If your store doesn’t carry all the required dietary items, make sure your associates have some recommendations for where the customers can find what they need.

One resource for researching wise pet choices that your associates can refer to, and also recommend to customers, is, an educational website sponsored by the Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council (PIJAC), the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The site provides proper pet selection and care guidance, including a section on reptiles that addresses basic considerations and requirements for habitat, diet and health concerns. It also describes why it is never acceptable to release pets into the wild, as some can survive outside their captive habitat, become invasive and cause environmental problems, economic damage or harm to human health.

Your store and your associates are trusted sources of information for pet selection and care in your community. The considerations listed here can be placed on your store’s social media, repurposed into store signage or shared in blast emails to customers to help your community make informed pet decisions, the best way to ensure their relationship with their pet is a positive experience that lasts for the pet’s entire life.




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