Reptiles as pets are rising in popularity, spurring an uptick in product sales, according to market research firm Packaged Facts. Like dog and cat owners, reptile owners have strong ties to their pets: 85 percent of "other pet" owners, including reptile owners, consider their pets to be part of the family, according to a February/March 2020 survey presented in the firm’s new report, Reptile Products: U.S. Pet Market Trends and Opportunities.
"Reptiles as family suggests new opportunities for premiumization, including more expansive and diverse and visually appealing habitats, and supplies that increasingly echo what a reptile would experience in the wild," said David Sprinkle, research director of Packaged Facts, which is based in Rockville, Md.
Reptile ownership also synchs with the demographic shifts to millennial and urban households, according to officials.
Reptile products are projected to grow from $495 million in 2019 to between $550 million and $650 million by 2024, depending on the depth and duration of the COVID-19 pandemic-triggered impacts on household finances and housing situations, officials said. These figures include food and non-food supplies for pet reptiles, including snakes, lizards and turtles as well as amphibians such as frogs, officials noted.
"When pet care budgets are limited, reptiles may gain in appeal in being very affordable compared with keeping dogs or cats, with most reptile owners viewing their reptile setups as a reasonable initial expense," officials said in a press release. "The reptile business may also get a bump because of the heightened levels of comfort and affection pet owners are finding in their pets due to being homebound and social distancing, and because kids are a key factor to the household ownership of reptiles, and children now more than ever need to be meaningfully entertained."
More than half of adoptions or acquisition of pets, other than dogs or cats, involve buying pets either for or at the request of children, according to Packaged Facts survey data. Households with children are, therefore, the top demographic for reptile ownership, with households with three or more children being more than twice as likely than average to own reptiles, officials said.