Current Reptile Industry Trends

Ball pythons morphs, black Mexican kingsnakes, gray-banded kingsnakes, scaleless morphs, crocodile skinks, geckos, boa constrictors, Brazilian boas, new terminology and more are what’s going on in the reptile industry today.

Snakes act defensively and not aggressively

For as long as I can remember, snakes that failed to take to their human keepers were known as being aggressive. This didn’t always mean their lack of temperament was the deal-breaker. Sometimes a snake would just be a little on the nippy side.

If you’ve been keeping snakes for a long time, there are two rites of passage that are unavoidable. These two events include acquiring a cranky snake and at least one snake mite infestation. Today, we live in a politically correct world. Why shouldn’t this practice apply to snakes too?

Today, an aggressive snake is now referred to as a defensive snake. Apparently, it’s important not to verbally offend the snake that’s constantly trying to bite you. It’s being defensive, not aggressive.

Force-feeding is now assist feeding 

I guess it would only be fair if we lightened up on our terminology on snakes who continuously refuse to eat. Now we no longer force-feed, we actually assist feed our unfortunate subject. After all, we’re offering them help.

Joking aside, there is a difference between the two. Assist feeding is simply placing the food item in the snake’s mouth in hoping it’ll bite down and swallow. This is in contrast to shoving the item forcefully down the throat of the snake. Only attempt to assist feed as the last resort when all other options fail. A healthy snake will eat eventually. Instead, try to figure out why the snake isn’t eating. Most of the time it’s due to stress. Check out our feeding hacks HERE.

Everglades rat snake price
The price of the Everglades rat snake has increased over the past few years.

Carrion feeding 

Carrion feeding is another new term being used more and more often. To carrion feed is simple. Place a pre-killed rodent in the enclosure of a snake without animating it in any way. If the snake eats the rodent, it has carrion fed.

Ball python morphs are still very popular

Yes, the balls are still here. Walk into any reptile show and you’ll find tables upon tables of ball pythons. Hooray. Sorry for the lack of enthusiasm, but I’d like to see more of a variety in snake species.

The good news is that colubrids are making a big comeback. Speaking of variety, a bunch of new ball python morphs has arrived. They’re starting to all look the same to me. No offense to ball python keepers, I wish only success in your future endeavors. I only ask to add a new species of snake to your breeding project.

The Dumeril’s boa is a great choice! The perfect companion pet for ball python lovers. It could happen! 

Scaleless snakes?

Hmm. So, an Emory rat crossed with a corn snake started one of the quickest growing trends in recent history. Some of them have really nice colors and patterns but I miss the scales. They remind me of a hairless cat.

I also don’t like the folds in their skin. I’ve seen these snakes go for $200 to $300 and more. Definitely, something I would have never predicted. Nevertheless, scaleless snakes seem like they’re here to stay making them a smart investment for any serious breeder.

The rebirth of the boa constrictor

After the ban of giant constrictors back in 2012, someone in the industry predicted the boa constrictor would enjoy a resurgence in popularity. I had my doubts, but he was right.

Female Colombian boa constrictor
Some old trends in the reptile industry come back.

Eventually, boa constrictors did come back with a vengeance. Brazilian rainbow boas have also risen to the occasion.

While the price of the Brazilian rainbow boas has come down, the price of boa constrictors has risen. Not only morphs have increased in price, localities such as Peruvian, Argentinian and others have also risen.

Only the Central American boa is available for less than $100 and they’re going fast. Dwarves such as the Hogg Island boas are holding steady in both price and popularity. I wouldn’t mind getting an Argentine boa myself. Such cryptic patterning, the next best thing would be an Aztec boa.

UPDATE: I now have a pair of Argentine boas. 

A reptile show
A reptile convention.

Return of the giants?

I’m confused. Didn’t USARK get the ban on several giant snakes lifted a year or two ago? Where are the African rock pythons? I also thought the ban on certain amphibians was over. How about the California newts? I’ve noticed an increase in ribbed newt availability.

It seems some other newts and salamanders are slowly coming back while the axolotl has kept the classifieds alive for the last couple of years. Captive breed all newts and salamanders if you can get them! It’s a great project to get involved in. 

A blue spiny lizard
A male blue spiny lizard.

The most popular lizards 

Unfortunately, what were once staples in the industry have completely dried up. In the past, it wasn’t worth breeding leopard (Gambelia wislizenii), fence, curly tail, earless, side-blotched and blue spiny lizards because field-collected specimens were always available.

Even the trail of the desert iguana has gone cold. Has there been a new law implemented that I haven’t heard of, or is it no longer worth catching them?

Desert horned lizards and more lost herps

Desert horned lizards have also completely fizzled out which is probably a good thing for that particular species. These lizards cannot be sustained without harvester ants. I’ve tried the formic acid supplement with disappointing results.

Many American skinks are still available and there’s been some talk that African fire skinks might be the next big thing. It doesn’t look like the steppe runner caught on as expected a few years ago. The Angolan girdled lizard that was erroneously being sold as armadillo lizards has also disappeared.

Bearded dragon
Some trends in the reptile industry never change.

Popular pet lizards

Certain lizards continue to pop up at reptile shows and on online classifieds. With their popularity seemingly unscathed, the green ameiva, various monitors, blue-tongued skinks and of course the unstoppable bearded dragon is still readily available.

The collared lizard has fluctuated in popularity over the past few years. One, if not the biggest collared lizard breeder in the United States hasn’t offered any babies for sale in years, yet wild-caught specimens are occasionally available. Especially, the eastern collared lizard. As it stands now, the collared lizard faces an uncertain future.

Leopard geckos are more popualer than ever!

UPDATE: Collared lizard breeding and availability are slowly coming back but they’re more expensive than ever. 

Rock iguana
A rock iguana on display at a reptile show.

Satanic leaf tail gecko madness

Last but certainly not least is the geckos that continue to increase in popularity. Starting with the leopards and crested geckos, now the gargoyles are gaining momentum. Don’t be surprised if the satanic leaf-tailed gecko starts getting hot.

Geckos are nice to handle and easy to breed. They’re also easy to keep, the only drawback being their impulsive tendency to drop their tail. This happens while breeding all too often. They do grow back better than other lizard species. The exception to that being the crested gecko which doesn’t grow back their tail. 

Many different available animals at reptile shows.
Reptile shows are the place for you to go if you're looking for pet reptiles and amphibians at their lowest (usually) prices.

My personal predictions for the next big thing in lizards?

If I knew, I’d be a millionaire. I’ll take a poke at it though. Keep an eye out for the monkey-tailed skink. There are a few around and if captive breeding is successfully achieved, the monkey-tailed skink might be the next big thing.

Besides, they make a great pet that is interactive. Currently, their prices are high but that may change like the Brazilian rainbow boa.

Almost forgot one lizard – the red-eyed crocodile skink

I almost forgot the red-eyed crocodile skink. These lizards are growing steadily in popularity. From the tropical rainforests of New Guinea, these humidity-loving lizards are gaining in popularity.

They seem to breed easily in captivity in the correct environment. These cute little guys might just be the next big thing. Prices average at about $150 but may drop if bred in mass. My money’s on the crocodile skink over the steppe runner, how about you?

Mexican black kingsnake
Western Mexican black kingsnake.

Mexican black kingsnakes are hot!

Kingsnakes are awesome and I admire the Mexican black kingsnake. I’m not exactly sure why they have surged in popularity over the past two years. They’re not the only jet black snake out there but they are the hottest. One of the most surprising trends in the reptile industry.

The gray-banded kingsnake is even hotter, but becoming less common

The gray-banded kingsnake has always been pricey but now they’re going for an average of $300. I have to admit, this wonderful mimic of the banded rock rattlesnake is definitely worth it. I’ve kept them before and would keep them again if space allowed.

The only problem with the gray-banded kingsnake is when they insist on a diet completely consisting of lizards. Some eventually take lizard-scented rodents. 

Their close cousin the variable kingsnake has also surged in popularity and why not? Breed a pair and get a mix of three different phases. Their price is much more modest than the gray-banded kingsnake averaging at $100 each.

Variable Kingsnake
the variable kingsnake

Conclusion

It’s very important to keep in mind that trends in the reptile industry change quickly. Even more so than the music industry, and that’s saying something. I go with the animals I like rather than what’s hot on the market. I understand people have different opinions than myself and that’s okay too.

What trends are you seeing in the reptile industry today? What are your predictions? Please share your thoughts in the comments section below.

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