News Demand For Reptiles Takes Off

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Demand for reptiles takes off
28th July 2021

By Karen Pickwick



Sales of reptiles have surged during the pandemic as interest in owning more exotic pets has grown, according to nationwide pet store Jollyes.

The retailer, which has 67 stores around the UK, has seen demand for reptiles rise by nearly 14% during lockdown. Top sellers are bearded dragons, chameleons, geckos and tortoises.

There has also been a steep rise in sales of the specialist food the animals need, particularly live food such as crickets, locusts and worms.

All parts of the country have seen an increase, but the popularity in keeping reptiles has risen fastest in Londonderry/Derry (up 133%), closely followed by Sheffield, Romford and Cannock, Jollyes says.

According to the Pet Food Manufacturers Association, there are 1.5 million reptiles kept as pets in the UK.

Jon Paul Cooper, who works at the Jollyes store in Kings Lynn, Norfolk, and is an experienced reptile keeper, said: “There’s definitely been an uptick in interest during the pandemic. Perhaps it has given people more time to dedicate to the hobby.
 
REWARDING

“One of the attractions of reptiles is that it’s like looking into another world. Their brains are so different to ours that there’s an attraction of the unknown. It’s very rewarding to work out your pet and get to know it well.

“Reptiles are fascinating and keeping them is very educational for children; it helps them learn about geography and science and everything that goes into setting up the right environment for the animal.”

Jon, 44, became fascinated with animals as a boy growing up near the New Forest and his first pet was a zebra finch and his first reptile a garter snake. Down the years he has kept all manner of animals, from rabbits to exotics, and now the father of eight has a veritable Noah’s Ark including dogs, a cat, sheep, guinea pigs, ferrets, birds, corn snakes, geckos, spiders and insects.

RESEARCH

However, he points out that unlike a cat or a dog, reptiles do not build an emotional attachment with their owners, saying: “Anyone who says different is misguided. They will become familiar with your shape, smell and touch, but there is no love there.”
Jon suggests leopard geckos and corn snakes as ideal animals for beginners, but says any buyer should do plenty of research so they know what their animal needs to live a

Jollyes’ commercial director Chris Burns said: “We’ve seen growing interest in reptiles from customers. Like with so many other animals, there is evidence that keeping any pet is good for the owner’s health and well-being.

“We’d encourage anyone with an interest in keeping reptiles to come and speak to our experts like Jon, so you build the right environment for the animal.”