Updated: Jun 25, 2019
Money and animals is always a touchy subject. Actually money and anything is a touchy subject isn't it? Lol.
Well, the blue tongue skink world is no different. Recently the number of people wanting a blue tongue skink has exploded to a new level. That demand has driven the prices for these amazing creatures up and up.
In a free market system that should be expected. When supply is less than demand, prices increase. At least that's what my economic professors in my college elective classes eluded too.
Yet when the market is booming like what we are experiencing now in the 2019 blue tongue skink market, we almost always see people pointing fingers and throwing around the "g-word"...greed.
Therefore, being a skink breeder who has raised my prices...
I had to take a step back and ask myself..."Self, are you being greedy? Is this really all about the money?"
After several months of reflection and even some outside consultation from other non-reptile folks I came to the conclusion that in no way shape or form are my prices forged out of greed. In fact my prices are fair and reasonable for the "product" I offer to include all the follow on support on top of the quality captive bred animals.
So then just for fun let's look at the definition of a greedy person. A greedy person is someone having or showing an intense and selfish desire for something, especially wealth or power (google dictionary).
The key words that stand out are the descriptive words, intense and selfish. Intense meaning beyond the scope of normal and selfish meaning lacking consideration of others or preoccupied with "self first." Thus a greedy person is someone who is so preoccupied with acquiring money that it is beyond the normal scope to the detriment of others.
Are blue tongue skink breeders like that? The vast majority are not! Breeding skinks takes time and energy. It takes work. Sure we may enjoy it. It's fun. Just because we enjoy and want to do it doesn't mean it should be without compensation. Nobody should be called greedy for desiring a fair compensation for good performance or heck even just to keep up with the rising costs of operations. Energy costs are going up, food prices are going up, and even care supply costs are going up. The cost to produce a baby skink is unlikely to do anything but rise.
So then what is fair and to whom?
Really! What is a fair price???
How do "we" arrive at fair? Should the animals be free? Should the asking price equal the cost to produce them? Often the finger pointers will throw out some random number more than the cost but much less than the current asking price that is completely and totally arbitrary, based on pure subjective feelings. That's bogus. Just because a person doesn't want to pay or can't pay an asking price doesn't mean it's not fair.
So how does that work in other areas? Do people go to the grocery store and tell the manager they "feel" like bread should be XYZ amount? Hardly.
Let's look at some other mark ups percentages from other retail areas for comparison.
According to a couple articles online the items below are typically marked up the following amounts:
Shoes - 100-500%
Furniture - 200-400%
Fashion Jeans- 100-350%
Clothing - 55-62%
From my estimation the current prices of skinks are marked up anywhere from 40-80% depending on the species, type of set up, etc.
This is pretty reasonable considering how awesome the "product" is and the fact that for many this is a true business whereby they are doing this fun activity for more than recreational purposes. Which is OKAY. There is nothing evil or wrong about making a business out of breeding reptiles as long as animal welfare is priority. Many people do it and with great success and honor.
So to set a price here is a typical formula for calculating a selling price:
Selling Price = [(Cost) / (100 - percent marked up)] x 100
So for a skink that costs $160 to produce and is marked up 60% that skink should sell for $400 which is the median price this season thus far. Of course mark up and production costs depend on many factors. Still a moderate mark up such as 60% is fully reasonable for a person who worked hard to produce the animals. That is unless the said customer doesn't value the time, energy, and work involved in producing the animals and doesn't appreciate the follow on support that most reputable breeders provide. Then of course complaining or finger pointing would be the next option...lol.
Are most breeders greedy? No. Far from it.
To those throwing the greed word around, consider being happy that breeders who do the hard work of producing healthy, pure, quality reptiles are finally getting a decent and fair compensation, instead of being taken advantage of by a cheap market that undervalues the animals.
A desire for more money is not greed on it's own. Said desire must be beyond the norm to the detriment of others to fit the definition of greed. Asking people to pay for a recreational/luxury item of their own free will is not hurting anyone and 60% is by far one of the most reasonable mark ups around.