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Old 07-05-04, 02:09 AM   #1 (permalink)
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"Cheap Animals" my article.

This is something I wrote when I came home one night, completely frustrated with people who walk into petstores. It's no secret that I detest people who put money above the animals they supposedly love. When will people learn they'll always earn more money... N e way, hope you enjoy my cynical article. If you like it, feel free to share it with anyone you want. If you don't like it, it's only my opinion, so feel free to give me yours in return.

"Cheap Animals"

It has long since plagued my days at the petstore, this question just makes my skin crawl. "What's the cheapest animal you've got?" Sometimes there's a variation to it like, "My kid wants something and I don't want to spend a lot". To both of these questions I just wish I could say something along the lines of, "Well if you want something inexpensive for your kid to play with, get him a toy at Wal-Mart, and if that's too expensive try the dollar store". They just don't realize that these $10 "cheap" animals need as much care and money put into their setups and diet as the expensive ones do. All too often people are told or figure on their own, why give a $10 animal a $200 setup? I've seen people keep anoles and house geckos in the smallest size Kritter Keeper for no other reason than to save a couple bucks. That makes me absolutely sick to my stomach.

Everyone claims to be an animal-lover and I'm not one to argue with that until I see something like that. I think everyone that claims to be an animal lover should stop counting the precious dollars they've saved by not providing the proper housing, lighting or food for their prisoner...oops, I meant pet. I detest people like that, they come in and want a cheap pet.They say, "I just want a pet, I don't want to spend a lot". I always wonder what will happen if their animal gets sick, is it doomed to suffer or will they be merciful enough to at least stick it in the freezer for a quicker death?

The thing I wish I could say most is, if you don't want to spend money don't get an animal. And if you happen to find a 'cheap pet' chances are there's a reason for it. Either the animal is untame or tiny and quick, regardless though will not be a 'good pet'. They also ask what the bare minimum setup you can get for it. ACK! Why do you want an animal? I really don't even know what anyone expects from an animal when you ask a question like that. When I mention that an anole is not a good pet for a 10 year old, parents always ask why and I have to go through the 'sure-you're-saving-money,-but-your-kid-will-get-bored-with- something-that-sits-there-and-does-absolutely-nothing,-and-so-you're-just-paying-on-a-weekly-basis-for-a-decoration-in-your-kids-room" speech, on top of the ususal "the-set-up-costs-a-lot-more-than-the-cheap-little-animal" speech.

That brings me to another point, many petstores will not mention the above fact, and really, they're just there to sell, it's their job. Your job as a customer is to ask questions and learn on your own for the details. If you don't get every detail from the salesperson it's YOUR job as the owner of that animal to research further. Impulse buys aren't as bad as people say, it's the customer not doing any reading when they get it home thats the problem. Misinformation can also be avoided by researching after the fact. No one can ever really blame the sales people or store unless they've blatently lied, because the fact of the matter is that no one has forced you to buy that animal instead of going home and researching before purchasing. Buying a book is what I always recommend whether buying the animal or not. It's better to spend $20 for a book and find out that animal isn't for you, than spending $400 on an animal you find out later isn't the animal for you. Also, regardless of what the salesperson tells you at the time of purchase a book will always have the right information, so why not pick one up? As a salesperson you forget certain facts that may be important, so I always try to sell a book with an animal, not for the money I make, but to take any blame off my shoulders for forgotten details.

Every person looking for a cheap animal also asks why these animals are so expensive, and the real reason I suppose is due to demand, availability, price that it was purchased from the wholesaler, etc. Now the reason I like best however is that it deters cheap people from acquiring an animal that demands more care, respect, space, supplies, and monitoring, than your average hamster, cat, or guinea pig. It really isn't a question of how much money you earn. I've seen successful doctors spend less on their animals than simple factory workers and single mothers. I think it's a question of who sees that animal as a living equal, a thing that's just as alive as they are and who see's it as a decoration or a 'thing' their kid thinks is cool looking.

Also as an after thought, if you're not willing to spend a couple more bucks for the animal you want, or that it's out of your budget for the tamer one, just don't get one at all. Don't 'settle' for the cheap one just because you've got only that much money at the time. Wait for the one you want, if you really are an animal lover, it'll be worth it. If your money is worth more than a pet, i'd suggest you don't get one, even a cheap one.

This is an article I found on a suppliers website, it sums up exactly what I feel:

"Whatís the cheapest snake you have?
Uh, well, none. None of our snakes are 'cheap'. All of our animals have great value.
Some of our more inexpensive colubrids may start at $15 or so, but if you are asking for simply the 'cheapest' snake we have, then perhaps ************ is not for you.
We want our customers to be reptile enthusiasts. We want our customers to make informed, intelligent choices with their reptiles. Simply buying the cheapest damned thing you can find from 'Stinky Butt Reptiles' is not exactly a smart strategy. Anyone asking such a question has obviously done very little homework, and is most likely not ready for a snake, or any reptile.
If you are on a budget, let me know, we can discuss the possibilities and alternatives. Letís talk snakes. But donít call us up and expect that we will sell you hard on a $15 cornsnake just because you happen to have the 15 bucks. We want each customer to get the best animal, and each animal to go to the best situation possible.
When anyone calls and asks for 'the cheapest snake you got', it always just so happens that we are 'all sold out.'"


Emily B.
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Old 07-05-04, 02:21 AM   #2 (permalink)
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sorry for the double post, my comp was being slow and i'm impatient...
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Old 07-05-04, 02:55 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Well, I agree that people who aren't willing to put money into their herps shouldn't keep them at all.

However, I just wanted to mention that putting more money into herps doesn't necessarily result in better care either. Many people setup their herps in expensive, visually appealing enclosures without meeting any of the herps' real needs.

Information is definitely the key... however, articles like yours tend to mostly be read by people who are already aware of these things. The totally ignorant customer who would benefit most from your article are too unaware to come across an article like this in the first place.

I think in the long run, the only way an article like yours will reach the people it is most intended for is if pet store owners enforce policies to educate their customers before making a sale. Obviously, some pet stores eager to make sales and cut costs aren't going to bother, but there are the few who will. The pet store I go to for instance has this sales policy:


I think as knowledgable herp owners, one thing we can do is make that extra effort to support the good pet stores out there. I have a Petcetera a few blocks away from me, but I always make a point to buy from the pet store above instead.
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Old 07-05-04, 10:25 AM   #4 (permalink)
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i don't really care that they DO spend the money, it just bothers me that they're not willing to on the pet in general. if you can do it cheaper without sacrificing what it needs, thats awesome! but if you're not thinking of that animals as worth spending the money on, then it'll never get to a vet if it eventually needs to. i remember one lady's bearded was sick, and she brought it in to ask us what was wrong. i asked her why she hadn't brought it into the vet and she said her husband wouldn't let her waste their money because it only cost $50, and the vet bill would be twice that. he figured if it died, they'd just buy a new one and it'd still cost less than going to the vet. i tried to help diagnose it and even offered to take it in so i could take care of it, she refused (saying she didnt want to lose the money on it by giving it to me, even if it would save it's life). i told her that i refuse to sell her another one when that one died.
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Old 07-05-04, 03:31 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Maybe some people buy 'cheaper' pets because they know it's accessories and upkeep will be expensive to purchase, (assuming they opt out of the Kritter Keepers, which I loathe). I agree with most of your thoughts and opinions, thanks for the interesting article.
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Old 07-05-04, 05:06 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Quote:
No one can ever really blame the sales people or store unless they've blatently lied, because the fact of the matter is that no one has forced you to buy that animal instead of going home and researching before purchasing.
When I was first getting into snakes I was told that the BCI they had would get no more than four feet long 'guaranteed'. I asked what type of guarantee that was, whether if in a couple years it grew bigger than that and I still had my receipt, if I could return it for a full refund... The salesperson looked at me like I was crazy. Their reply was, 'Do you really keep receipts for that long?' Uh, yeah, nice explanation.

Quote:
Also as an after thought, if you're not willing to spend a couple more bucks for the animal you want, or that it's out of your budget for the tamer one, just don't get one at all.
Great point. When you 'settle' for an animal, one that's 'not as good' in your eyes for whatever reason, there's also the chance you will not enjoy it and will even possibly resent it for being substandard. I've seen this happen not only with reptiles but also with dogs and cats. Someone wants a pure bred whatever and instead picks up a mutt at the humane society. Could've been a great dog, but they find flaws in it, and it's because it's a mutt.

I actually was willing to spend more to get the snake that I got as my first. And I have no regrets.

over all, I also wanted to say this was a good read. I will most definitely be passing it along and will be crediting you as the author and www.sSnakeSs.com as the place it originated from. Thanks for the enjoyable read.
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Old 07-05-04, 05:29 PM   #7 (permalink)
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I dont know if itll make you feel better, but here is a pic. of my house gecko and anole enclosure.



evryone eats, and the anole is green almost all the time.
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Old 07-05-04, 05:45 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Unfortunately, it is not only small animals that people have disregard for. I know of people who won't take their family dog to the vet because the vet bill would be more than the $400 they spent on the dog. This problem is not 'price specific' and it should be mentioned that there are dumb-a$$ people out there who refuse to show their pet the respect that they deserve, be it a $15, a $2000 CKC registered Dobermann or a $6000 Macaw.
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Old 07-05-04, 05:51 PM   #9 (permalink)
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i think that is a great article. nice enclosure too snakehunter.
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Old 07-05-04, 06:42 PM   #10 (permalink)
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I think it's unfortunate that animals fall into the hands of people that are unable or unwilling to care for them as they age and grow.

How far we go to "save" a sick animal is a subject that is wide open to debate. Should the owner of a $50 corn snake be expected to spend $50 on vet care should the animal need it? I think a lot of people would say yes. How about $500 on the same snake? Or $5000? It's a question of where you draw the line economically and how long you're willing to prolong the agony of an animal that is dying anyway...

There is an analogous debate in Canada when it comes to the subject of health care. Everyone is entitled to stitches if they need them but is everyone entitled to an artificial heart or the latest super-expensive treatment? Does it make a difference if the person is 6 years old or 86 years? They're all hard questions.
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Old 07-05-04, 07:14 PM   #11 (permalink)
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You can keep house geckos and anoles together?
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Old 07-05-04, 08:51 PM   #12 (permalink)
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Quote:
Also, regardless of what the salesperson tells you at the time of purchase a book will always have the right information, so why not pick one up?
That part isn't exactly... correct. Or even close to it.

Encouraging your customers to read is always a positive thing... thinking that just because something was published, it's automatically right is NOT. There are literally hundreds of absolutely horrible and wrong books which have been written, published and sold- many of these are still in print. Telling someone to trust a single informational source as being infalliable is frankly kinda stupid. Suggest informational resources that you agree with but don't take it too far.
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Old 07-05-04, 10:06 PM   #13 (permalink)
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i realized that after i wrote it, M_surinamensis, i should probubly change that. i remember dragoon telling me all the mislabelled tarantulas in the tarantula book. i'd say for the most part i usually tell people to start with a book OR the internet (i agree, dont stick to just one source). i even print out fact sheets that sound pretty good for those people that dont want to buy the book, or if there are no books available about that animal.
and snakehunter, it really warms my heart to see a setup like that, its absolutely gorgeous!
mettle, when it comes to telling people animal sizes, salespeople are usually wrong. before i started working at the petstore, they were selling spectacled caimans as animals that get no larger than 3-6 ft. sometimes i am wrong, but if i have any doubt, most of the time i will take a second to find something on the internet about that animals size (or rarely, ask if any of the other staff knows).
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Old 07-06-04, 10:11 AM   #14 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally posted by emilsmee
when it comes to telling people animal sizes, salespeople are usually wrong.
Like how I was told the 'cute little savannah monitor' can be kept in a 20 gallon long tank for nearly its whole life. Heh.
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Old 07-06-04, 02:38 PM   #15 (permalink)
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i guess i'm just one of the few honest salespeople. i may lose a few sales for being honest, but i feel better about selling when i tell the truth.
i had one couple come in bent on an iguana because i'm sure its the only reptile they've ever seen as a pet. i asked them why they wanted one and they said 'because they're so friendly'. little did they know, most iguanas aren't (i know there are exceptions, this is just my findings), they're usually territorial, an unmanagable size when full grown and can be aggressive, especially during mating season. needless to say, not the best pet for the beginner. so i told them about bearded dragons, and they bought one. they came back every week or two to show me when picking up crickets for their dragon. they told me funny stories and cute things he did. they were absolutely IN LOVE with this lizard. i started working at another petstore (the one i work at now) and they saw me there. they said they were so glad i worked there that day because they had asked my old boss where i worked. they said they wanted another bearded dragon but would only buy it from me. so they bought another one and came back the next week and told me they had named it after me, *grin*.
that is my favourite thing that has ever happened to me at work. and it proves that you don't have to lie to sell. i have a ton of people who refer to me after talking to another salesperson even at my own store. and there are some people who won't even buy crickets or worms from my co-workers. most of my customers even know me by name, and i've never blatently lied to anyone to sell something. i treat most of my customers as friends, and not as walking wallets.
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