When most people think of pet ownership, animals like dogs and cats come to mind. But over the past 20 years or so, the reptile pet market (frogs, snakes, lizards, turtles, etc.) has exploded, and that has been both a blessing and a curse for the industry. On the positive side, the industry has seen record profits, increased awareness of proper ownership, and mass-market availability of everything from supplies to veterinary care. The negative stems primarily from demographics—the average reptile owner is 18-to-24 years old and economically unstable. Reptiles are inexpensive to buy but, like any pet, costly to maintain relative to the purchase price. This puts the creatures at grave risk when their owners fall on hard times, which happens frequently.
People don’t just like their pets, they love them. The American pet market reached $66.75 billion in 2016 and shows no sign of slowing down. Research consistently shows people consider their pets part of the family, and often will spend more on their pets than they do on themselves. Countless industry stories bear this out. For example, the late actor Dick Van Patten—a fixture in Hollywood for decades—said no acting gig paid as well as his dog food company did. Controversial dog trainer Cesar Milan has gained global celebrity recognition equivalent to an A-list actor. And recently one innovative company has introduced a red carpet ‘lounge’ for pets waiting for airline flights, even horses.