Finding The Right Small Rodent Products
Small pets, like ferrets and rodents, need specific products to lead long, healthy and stimulating lives.
While animals like ferrets, rabbits and guinea pigs may be on the smaller scale in terms of size, they have big needs. Retailers can help their customers select specific products that address all of these animals’ care requirements in order to ensure they thrive.
Having been in business for over 80 years, Marshall Pet prides itself on knowing what products small animals need to succeed. The manufacturer specializes in ferret care and breeding, and works with veterinarians and nutritionists to create diets, supplements and vitamins formulated for these pets’ health and wellness.
“Ferrets, in particular, have very special dietary needs,” says Amanda Altman, marketing coordinator for Marshall Pet. “They are carnivores and need a very high protein diet.”
Marshall Pet’s food options for ferrets, which include Premium Ferret Diet Carnivore and Plus High Protein Ferret Diet, are made with ingredients like chicken, corn meal and dried beet pulp. The company only uses chicken organs in its diets because they contain more amino acids and accurately mimic a ferret’s diet in the wild. Beets are a strong source of fiber and corn is included as a binder that promotes digestive health, according to the company.
Even Marshall Pet’s Premium Ferret Diet and Bandits treats are specially-formulated for ferrets by containing high amounts of fresh protein.
Ferrets’ specific dietary and digestive requirements also mean that pet parents have to think about purchasing the right products to keep their habitats clean, according to Altman.
“They have a short digestive system and go to the bathroom often,” she says. “Having a dust-free litter that is cleaned often is a must with ferrets.”
Marshall Pet offers dust-free Premium Ferret Litter which is environmentally safe by being both biodegradable and flushable.
Having a Good Time
Those who own small animals also have to consider their recreational needs. Marshall Pet plans to release a 24-in. Ferret Swimming Pool this spring, though the product already took third place in the Global Pet Expo Small Animal Category of the New Item Showcase.
Marshall Pet also manufactures its Peter’s line, which offers products that encourage fun and relaxation amongst small rodents like rabbits and guinea pigs.
“This line is focused solely on providing natural treats and woven grass mats and huts,” Altman says.
Items like the Woven Grass Play Ball or Woven Pet Bed are made from hay that is safe to chew, play and rest on.
Part of a small pet’s recreation could include playing a classic game of hide-and-seek, according to Sandra Alexander, owner of Sandia Pet Products.
“Small pets love to hide and sometimes it is a chore to find them,” Alexander explains. “We always advise owners to use a small collar with an attached bell as part of their pet’s daily wardrobe.”
The Albuquerque, N.M.-based company manufactures collars, leashes and harnesses for small pets in order to help them stay active and engage in valuable exercise.
“We think harnesses are especially important for small animals,” Alexander says. “They should not be walked with just a collar and leash. They should wear a harness for both their safety and comfort.”
Sandia’s harnesses are fully adjustable and the company offers both regular and petite sizes. Alexander said pet parents have become more interested in owning small animals and walking them as more people choose to live in apartments with limited space.
“Small animals are wonderful companions, don’t take up much room and provide great incentive to take them for a walk,” she explains.
Making the Sale
Sandia’s harnesses, collars and leashes come in bright colors that look stylish and noticeable on a small animal, according to Alexander. Vibrant colors also make these types of products more marketable to customers.
“Displays should include the array of products—collars, harnesses and leashes that the pet owner needs,” Alexander says. “A display near the cash register often gets a customer’s attention, and for small pet products, it doesn’t take up a lot of space.”
Retailers should ensure their staff are well-trained to discuss the needs of small pets and rodents while completing a sale, according to Altman.
“Having a knowledgeable and helpful floor presence makes an impact on the customer,” she says.
Marshall Pet provides educational videos, instruction and materials to retailers to help them better serve small pet owners. These resources also help illustrate the differences between various types of small animals and rodents.
“Not all small animals are the same,” Altman said. “Educating the staff on the special needs of all small animals is crucial to them being able to advise on the best care of these animals at the time of sale.”
Floor associates should also be prepared to take a hands-on approach when helping customers with their small pet needs, especially when it comes to ensuring harnesses, collars and leashes have the best fit possible, according to Alexander.
“If the retailer sells small pets, the customer should leave the store not only with a new pet, but also with a correctly adjusted collar, harness and leash,” she says. “We cannot overstress the importance of ensuring a good adjustment so that the pet is comfortable and at the same time is well-controlled.”
She added that retailers can also provide tips on animal care to their customers, including advising them to pay attention to their pet’s physical appearance.
“If they seem lethargic, lose or gain weight, or have changes in their eating habits, the owner should look for help,” says Alexander. “The retailer may recommend a change in diet, more exercise, or a visit to the vet.”
By helping customers meet their small animals’ needs through the right products and care, retailers can help ensure a lasting bond between pet and owner.
“If properly cared for, these little guys can provide years of fun and companionship,” says Alexander. PB