About New England Herpetoculture

 
NEHERP Staff Our goal is to earn the title "Your 1-Stop Vivarium Shop", by offering the best prices, the best service, most complete vivarium info, and the widest vivarium supply selection online. NEHERP is a small family owned & operated business, and each staff member is an experienced vivarium and/or exotic pet enthusiast, which helps us to know exactly what's important to our clients when putting orders together. We offer some of the best vivarium-related supplies found anywhere, and despite our smaller size as a company, we guarantee to have the lowest prices of any herp specialty shop.
Our in-depth vivarium building articles are some of the most popular online, and we're always happy to help with any additional build questions hobbyists may have. We are a proud, hard working group of people who love what we do, and are truly dedicated to offering our clients a great experience.
 
Wood Room @ NEHERP

What Makes NEHERP Different

• We are a family owned & operated small business run by small enthusiastic team of pros & hobbyists
• Insider subscribers can log in to select their choice of a free reward for every single order over $50
• Most orders process quickly, with supplies & feeder orders typically shipping within 1 business day. (Plants in 1-3)
• Combine-ship plants, microfauna, herp supplies, and horticultural supplies together, without affecting guarantees
• Our shipping policy allows clients residing in New England to ship perishables using ground service w/guaranteed live arrival.
• We're proud to offer the most complete vivarium supply inventory online, and our catalog grows every year
• Our small business has one of the most epic customer service reputations in the herp & vivarium industries
• Our best-selling NEHERP brand items are of the absolute highest quality possible, and most are manufactured locally in CT
• We've written some of the most complete, in-depth, and popular vivarium building & care articles online
• Every animal we care for, and every animal we've sold since we started was captive bred within the USA
• We are experienced vivarium builders, and the team is always happy to assist clients with vivarium construction advice.
 
NEHERP Green Business NEHERP Green Business NEHERP Green Business

We're a Green Business!

 Over 85% of our outgoing shipping boxes are recycled, repurposed, or reused
      This saved nearly 8,000 reusable boxes from a landfill in 2016
      Saves clients around $1-4 per order on the cost of a box
      Reused floral boxes have high-bursting pressure, resulting in safe shipments
 
 We don't waste packing materials, and never use styro packing peanuts
      We use non-toxic, biodegradable heat & ice packs only
      We use recycled paper/plastic void-fill only
 
 Our facility uses extremely efficient lighting sources to minimize our energy footprint
      Our grow operation has increased LED usage 700% since 2014
      No inefficient HPS, MH, or T12 lights are used at NEHERP
      Our work areas utilize LEDs, T5HOs, and Mogul fluorescents
      As of 2016, every vivarium we keep utilizes LEDs
 
 Our indoor greenhouse is extremely efficient, and free of harsh chems & fertilizers
      Our grow areas use carbon-filtered water - not more wasteful R/O
      We utilize 100% organic, chemical-free pest control methods only
      No harsh chemical fertilizers or pesticides are ever used at NEHERP
 
 The wellbeing of the animals we care for (and serve) is our #1 priority
      We ended our commercial breeding operation of Reptiles & Amphibians in 2012
      Our policy is designed to increase support for rescues & small-scale hobbyist breeders
      We are against the unnecessary wild-caught trade of Reptiles & Amphibians
 
 
Our Animals

Our Hobby: We ♥ Our Reptiles & Amphibians

We're passionate about the many species we work with!
While we no longer actively breed animals on a commercial basis, we still enjoy working with & caring for many different species of Reptiles & Amphibians. Nowadays, our goals focus on understanding the environmental requirements of each species. The hands-on experience gained from building & maintaining a wide variety of species-specific live environments has helped us to write our vivarium articles, animal care articles, design our vivarium supplies, recommend appropriate plants, microfauna, and more. We hope the educational tools & unique supplies offered on our site can help encourage more enthusiasts towards providing their animals with healthy live environments! Our team has experience with a ton of species in well over a dozen genera of exotic Amphibian, Reptile, & Invertebrate, and we'd be happy to assist with any husbandry related question we can.
 
Tinctorius 'Cobalt' Since we're not a commercial breeder, we encourage all our clients to patronize a private breeder or rescue organization when looking to acquire a new animal. If you are having trouble sourcing a certain species, don't hesitate to shoot us an email! Since hobbyist & commercial breeders make up a significant portion of our client-base, we're always happy to help support our private breeder customers by sending business their way. This way, customers have access to healthy captive-bred animals, and our breeder clients gain some business! Plus, from an ethical standpoint, supporting breeders helps small businesses, curbs the demand for wild-caught animals, and often yields the healthiest pet!
 
Absolutely No Wild Caught Animals - Ever.
 
Since day one, our business has never engaged in, or supported the sale/trade of wild caught animals. For the good of the hobby & wellbeing of the animals we're all passionate about, we hope you'll support a local breeder or rescue, protect the wild animals you love, and help discourage the nation-wide trade of unnecessarily wild-caught animals. It really is as simple as not patronizing a business which sells wild caught animals, and instead checking out a local rescue or breeder to source your pet(s).
 

Meet The Team

Mike

Mike S.

CEO / Co-Owner
Mike has cared for exotic pets & live vivarium environments since he was a student, and has worked with over 70 species of animals over the years. Having grown up in & around his family's wholesale flora business, he spent much of his life working with & shipping perishables before opening New England Herpetoculture. Mike is responsible for product & business development, marketing, and coding the website. On the incredibly rare occasion that Mike isn't working, he spends his time gaming with Jess, working on cars, building stuff in his shop, playing guitar, pranking members of the crew, and of course spending time with his wife & son.
 
Jess

Jessica S.

Manager / Co-Owner
Jessica runs customer service & oversees order fulfillment, and has worked with over 35 different species of Reptiles & Amphibians. Having grown up in & around garden clubs, Jess put her horticultural knowledge to work for NEHERP when she developed the Horticulture division in 2012. Since then, she's played an even more significant role from website development, to product selection, and especially in customer service. When Jess isn't managing NEHERP, she spends her time gaming, working with her pet frogs, playing piano, singing, hiking, baking, and hanging out with her husband, Mike S. She recently became a Mom to her & Mike's first son, Michael Gus!
 
Mike W

Mike W.

Warehouse Supervisor
Mike W joined the team in 2013, just after the retail shop merged with the warehouse. Mike is an amphibian breeder, vivarium enthusiast, horticulturist, and has quickly become a jack of all trades at the shop. Mike takes the lead in the warehouse by packing more orders than anyone else at the shop, operating the substrate mixer, making fly cultures, Springtail cultures, Isopod cultures, building fly media, and a whole lot more. When he's not kicking butt at our shop, he spends his time growing terrarium plants, working with a huge collection of small exotic species, listening to great music, and hanging out with his Chihuahua, Buddy. Since Mike started at NEHERP, his exotic pet & vivarium collection has grown to dwarf Mike & Jess's, and even NEHERP's! Mike's a great guy who has the client's best interest in mind every day, and NEHERP wouldn't be the same without him. Mike W is in it for the long-haul at NEHERP, and also hopes to open an exotic animal educational display company with Mike S. someday soon.
 
Moriah S.

Moriah S.

Administration, Customer Service, and Departmental Support
Moriah is the newest member of the NEHERP team, and comes from an unlikely background of health care & services. In her short tenure here, she has quickly become an integral part of the team. Moriah sees eye-to-eye with Mike & Jess on how customers should be treated, and has been doing an absolutely fantastic job ensuring clients have a great experience at NEHERP. She's the newest member of the customer service team, and will be one of three people who'll be responding to your calls or emails. When she isn't at NEHERP, she spends time with her husband Alex, their two adorable children, and Boxer dog Bruno.
 
Sam K.

Sam K.

Logistics Department
Sam has been a truly welcome addition to the team. A favorite of Ella & little Michael Gus, Sam is one of the primary order packers here at NEHERP. At home, Sam cares for an NEHERP-bred Gargoyle Gecko, and plans to grow her hobby as time goes on. When she's not doing an awesome job at NEHERP, she's riding quads & dirt bikes, driving an epic huge truck, and being a bit of an understated badass. Once out of college, she hopes to get involved with law enforcement, or to become a Conservation Officer.
 
Ralph C.

Ralph C.

Production Department
Ralph is a retired Environmental Conservation Police Officer with the Environmental Protection Agency. He joined the NEHERP team in 2016, and helps out in both the production & greenhouse departments, while also acting as a general contractor & repairman for a whole slew of ongoing projects at the shop. If you've ordered substrate from NEHERP in the past few months, chances are, you've seen Ralph's handiwork! When Ralph isn't at NEHERP, he's riding his epic custom motorcycle, tending to his dart frogs & exotic fish, playing video games, working on his model trains, and exploring space using his tremendous telescope.
 
VOAG Kids

The VOAG & HS Crew!

Substrate Mixing, Fly Media Creation, Greenhouse Propagation, Plant Maintenance, Microfauna, & Other "Upkeep"!
VOAG & HS students in central Connecticut can apply to work at NEHERP, and we're lucky enough to have a great team of students in the shop. Carly, Cam, & Ricky are members of the crew for 2016, and they do an excellent job. The "minions" as Mike W. affectionately refers to them are a critical part of the NEHERP operation, and each member has his or her own specialization, outside of the typical greenhouse stuff. If you are a central-Connecticut high school student or teacher interested in this program, please email Jessica.
 
Michael Gus

Michael Gus

Cuteness Department / Possible Future Owner
Jess & Mike's pride & joy, little Michael Gus comes to work with his mom & dad every day, and does an awesome job putting a smile on everyone's face. Mr. Gus Gus enjoys watching frogs jump around in the vivariums, watching snakes slither around in terrariums, and spends plenty of time jumping around on his overhead-crane mounted bouncer. Above all else, Michael loves playing with his best friend Ella the dog. If you've called into NEHERP any time over the past months since little Michael was born, chances are you've heard him making very cute sounds somewhere in the background. He's one adorable little man.
 
Ella

Ella Baby Doogus

Door Greeter & Manager Of Department Of Sagginess
Often referred to as Ella Baby Doogus, Foofus, Foof, Foo, and Foobacca; Ella is one of the greatest dogs on Earth. If you've been down to either of our locations, you've probably been greeted by the wiggly-butt Boxer dog we all love. Ella enjoys watching Frogs & Geckos move around in the vivariums, but won't approach any of the Boa enclosures. Ella strongly protests against the use of sunglasses, hoods, and hats, and has a love/hate relationship with our FedEx & USPS drivers. Despite her fear of snakes, like the rest of NEHERP's small staff, Ella absolutely loves her job.
 
 
Mike!

A Brief History of Our Company

~ Posted by Mike Siavrakas & last updated 06/14/16 ~
NEHERP Over The Years
NEHERP Over The Years
 
I was an exotic animal hobbyist throughout most of my childhood, and having the opportunity to do this as a career is absolutely surreal. Below, I've tried to document a rough outline of the past decade's events which brought me to where I am today, and brought NEHERP from concept to creation.
 
NEHERP's 1'st Animals
NEHERP's 1'st Animals
2003-2007: Hobbyist Years & The Experiences Which Sparked An Idea
While I was in high school, I kept a handful of different Reptiles & Amphibians as an enthusiast. It wasn't an especially large or spectacular collection by any stretch of the imagination, but it was a fun way to begin learning. A few years went by, and while I was working & in college, I began breeding some different species on the side. I started with Leopard Geckos, got into Day Geckos, Bearded Dragons, and a few more common species. After my first seasons as a small-scale breeder, I became even more enthusiastic about the herp hobby.
 
Back then, I remember feeling critical of larger pet shops, whose husbandry methods (even while I was a beginner) seemed abysmal more often than not. I remember seeing little Leopard Gecko & Bearded Dragon hatchlings being kept bone dry on calcium sand, struggling to shed, and often times suffering from impaction. I can't forget seeing wild caught Anoles fighting in a tiny enclosure, housed next to captive bred Bearded Dragons, with a plastic divider separating the animals which allowed feeders to run back & forth between the two species. After doing a little research online, I came to the conclusion that not only were Anoles wild caught, but so were the majority of so many common species I saw at pet shops. (Animals like Green Tree Frogs, Chameleons, Iguanas, Tortoises, Turtles, Fire Bellied Toads, Monitor Lizards, Tokay Geckos, House Geckos, Whites Tree Frogs, Red Eye Tree Frogs, and so many more) I saw far too many frustrating instances of poor husbandry to list. Considering the frequency in which all these examples were out for display in the large retail pet stores, I personally came to the unfortunate conclusion that these problems might actually be commonplace within the industry. It wasn't a fun realization, and it's stuck with me to this day.
 
Reptile Expo
Reptile Expo
Then I attended a Reptile/Amphibian expo. The vast majority of small business owners, breeders, and enthusiasts who were vending at the show proved to be an entirely different, more enthusiastic & far more educational resource compared a traditional chain or large-scale pet shop. In most cases, the health & vibrancy of the animals offered by many of the small-scale breeders was a notable improvement over any I'd seen in stores. I received great advice, was pointed towards lots of great online resources, and the experience drastically changed my perspective. On the way home from the expo I remember thinking, "These people know what they are doing! Why don't more full-scale businesses offer those kinds of animals, resources & support?". I continued working with a number of different species, and my hobby grew a bit larger.
 
The animals I had been working with were always very exciting, but it wasn't until 2007 or so when something really jumped out & grabbed my attention. I built my first live vivarium. There wasn't much info on the subject available in stores or online, so I joined some hobbyist forums, got involved with the community, experimented by building lots of vivariums, and it was all downhill from there. I knew live vivariums were way too incredible to not become popular, there wasn't much informational support online, and there were only a couple places selling vivarium gear. I saw an opportunity.
 
The History Of NEHERP's Website The History Of NEHERP's Website The History Of NEHERP's Website
The History Of NEHERP's Website The History Of NEHERP's Website The History Of NEHERP's Website
Both the positive & negative experiences I had as an enthusiast helped to shape what I wanted to see in a company. First & foremost, NEHERP would be a strictly "no wild caught" business. It was critical to offer respectable husbandry advice, and to follow the same high standards for any animal in our care. I wanted to create a customer service model similar to what one would expect at a professional expo, where our staff could speak from experience when offering advice. One last personal goal I set for myself was to beat the negative stigma some people hold toward this awesome, and often misunderstood hobby. The focus would be on live vivariums, and the company's goal would be to support everything related to the creation of these awesome enclosed environments.
 
NEHERP in 2008
NEHERP in 2008
 
2008-2010: A Teeny-Tiny Startup
The ball really didn't start rolling until back in 2008, when I started testing different types of live moss in vivariums. Once I found a species which could thrive in a live vivarium environment, I began researching care & propagation techniques in hopes that I could eventually market the product. Eventually, the first samples of NEHERP moss were offered on forums for hobbyists to try, and with positive feedback on the product, we became the 1'st company online to offer pre-processed live moss for vivariums. During this time, NEHERP was an incredibly tiny basement business, with a grow room & stock area packed in a small space behind my apartment's kitchen. I grew up working for my family's business New England Wholesale Florist, and so the name "New England Herpetoculture" seemed like a natural choice.
 
When neherpetoculture.com first launched in late 2008, there were only a tiny handful of mostly dart frog & vivarium related supplies available. The website I wrote was terrible (no really - just god awful), the selection was sparse, but our plants were top-notch. Friends & fans of our small business helped spread the word on forums, and we began offering a few brand names of herp supplies along with an increased plant selection online. By 2010, the variety of live animal projects had drastically increased to nearly 200 individuals. At this point, NEHERP began sharing warehouse space with another family business. The next couple years sped past with the site's popularity increasing, and the supply selection expanding from a few dozen products, to a few hundred.
NEHERP's Old Retail Store
NEHERP's Herp Room & Office
NEHERP's Old Retail Store
 
 
2010-2011 - The Retail Store
Towards the end of 2010, NEHERP opened a small retail store in New Britain CT, which offered everything available online plus an assortment of (strictly) captive bred, and often locally-bred reptiles & amphibians. During that time, the shared warehouse space in Meriden was primarily used for overstock supplies & plants, and the day-to-day business & online order processing took place at the retail shop.
 
The 3'rd version of our website launched around the same time the retail store opened, and while it was a small step in the right direction, it was still extremely basic. We added Exo Terra brand products to the lineup in January of 2011, and they've been some of our best selling products since.
 
NEHERP's Herp Room & Office
 
Although this next part is difficult to describe, it's one of the things which helps set us apart from others in the industry. For us, there are essentially two categories of clients which we cater to. The first group includes both amateur and professional breeders, as well as commercial/educational enterprises (Zoos, nature centers, universities, and rescues). The second category is made up of hobbyists & enthusiasts. While we did have a limited selection of Reptiles & Amphibians at the retail store, but it was never our goal to become a large scale breeder. Sometime around 2011, we made the decision to minimize any competition between us & our breeder & rescue clients, and we discontinued nearly 90% of our breeding operation. As NEHERP grew and our friends in the hobby expanded, we found ourselves networking between the hobbyists and the breeders we had come to know and trust. Rather than carrying tons of live animals in-house, we'd simply point any interested clients towards one of the breeders or rescue facilities we worked with. Those organizations would reciprocate and direct the new hobbyists that purchased from them toward our site, and we'd make sure that the client and the animal(s) would be well taken care of. It was a symbiotic relationship that turned out to work beautifully. (...and still does to this day!)
 
The Vivarium Construction 101 article was one of NEHERP's main turning points, and is our most popular informational page to this day. It's strange to think about it, but the 1'st version of the article was quickly written while I was sitting behind the retail store's front desk, during lulls in sales when I was done packing orders for the day. The article helped to grow our web traffic considerably, and encouraged us to eventually expand it, and write far more articles as time went on. VC101 quickly became the most detailed, and one of the web's most popular online vivarium building guides.
 
In late 2011, an enthusiast walked into the New Britain retail shop and changed both my life & the direction of New England Herpetoculture from that point forward. Jess & I quickly began working together full time to further develop our best-selling Vivarium Substrate, Drainage Layer Substrate, Fly Media, Horticultural division, and more. These NEHERP brand products are our best selling hard supplies to this day, and have earned our absolute highest customer reviews.
 
It wasn't long before the quickly growing website drastically overshadowed the store, and Jess & I made the tough decision to merge the retail shop back into the original warehouse space. With the added space & customer suggestions in mind, our store was expanded to offer one of the widest selections of vivarium related supplies online.
 
NEHERP in 2013
NEHERP in 2013
 
2012-2013: The Warehouse Merge, Articles, & Mike W.
With the new products launched, things began to grow at a quicker rate. I finished the 4'th version of our website in 2012, and it was wasn't terrible, but wasn't quite "good" yet. :-) That site was the 1'st one to display the stylized "NEHERP" logo as the header, which has helped to set our brand apart to this day. We began carrying the Jungle Dawn LED line, and our first vivarium lighting kits were added to the lineup. Eventually, different (non-enclosure specific) plant packs were added too. We didn't realize it at the time, but these "vivarium kit" products were absolutely the way of the future for NEHERP.
 
Towards the end of 2012, we wrote our first Custom Vivarium Background article, which quickly led to us carrying Custom Vivarium Background supplies. We also began stocking lots of the DIY-friendly stuff clients would need in order to create lots of other cool custom vivarium gear for themselves.
 
In 2013, we hired our 1'st full time employee Mike W, who has been with the company ever since. (Nowadays, he's warehouse supervisor) Mike W's herp hobby quickly grew from a few frogs to a few dozen species, and the expertise he gained over the years has helped NEHERP design new products & write new articles for the site. If you've ordered from NEHERP since 2013, you've probably received a box prepped & packed by Mike W.
 
By the end of 2013, we outgrew our grow room, over-supplied our supply room, and the website was due for yet another re-write.
 
NEHERP's Greenhouses & Wood Room
NEHERP's Greenhouses & Wood Room
 
2014-2015: More Products, Growing Pains, and a Wedding!
NEHERP V.5 launched in early 2014, was NEHERP's first 100% fully hand-coded site, and was the biggest improvement yet. Client reception was pretty positive, and the team was floored. Finally a halfway decent website! Between the new site & revised care articles, search engine rankings during this time put our company within the top 3-4 results for topics related to vivariums.
 
NEHERP Moss Slurry, Vert Kits, Wedding
NEHERP Moss Slurry, Vert Kits, Wedding
Shortly after the site launched, a handful of new products were released too. NEHERP Substrate V2 was great for a bunch of different species, and was a real hit with the Gecko, Snake, and Tree Frog hobbyists. Modular Cork Planters & Gecko Background Kits were also pretty popular with the Gecko keeping community. Other new products included a freshly revised Fly Media, NEHERP Glass Inserts, Custom Background Texture Mix, Vertical Conversion Kits, and tons of new wood decor options. The most popular development was our NEHERP Moss Slurry, which took nearly a year of testing to develop.
 
At the end of 2015, we began a nearly 6 month expansion program into a new area of the warehouse. Our greenhouse area was tripled, our supply room was doubled, and our "wood room" was an entirely new development. While we were glad to have added a considerable amount of space to the supply-end of things, we were still stuck with a tiny 250sq/ft office for 3 employees (and 17+ vivariums!). We were cramped, to say the least!
 
As much as I'd like to say things were peachy through the end of 2015, that simply wasn't the case. Shippers began charging exponentially more money per shipment, we had two dishonest (obviously short-term) employees, multiple thefts, family members passing, and more. The truth is, our company had a huge load of stress put on it between mid 2015 & early 2016. During that time, our order processing time approached 2 weeks, and a delay notice needed to be posted on the site. It was an incredibly stressful time for us as a company, and we thank every single client for being so patient during our rough patch. Obviously we made it through the difficult times, but it sure wasn't easy. :-) With the ugly stuff out of the way, let's get back to the good part...
 
Jess and I were finally married in July of 2015. It sounds like a happy ending, but it gets even better. :-)
 
 
New Warehouse, New Son!
New Warehouse, New Son!
Siavrakas Family
2016-Present: New Website, Location, and Baby!.
I was able to launch Version 6 of our website (the current one) in January 2016, after months & months of coding. Our little company has managed to get within the top 1-2 search engine results for most vivarium related topics, and I'm thrilled that the new site has been so well received. There are lots of new features to mention, but the most pivotal is probably the Vivarium Builder, and it's supporting Vivarium Kits. We now offer over 170 different vivarium related kits for all 30 of the most common enclosure sizes, making our site the most comprehensive vivarium support page online. We created Background Decor Kits (both light & heavy duty), Vivarium Substrate Kits, Lighting Kits, and of course Complete Kits, all indexed by enclosure size. Each kit can be custom-tailored to a specific species, and many kits have different options to consider & adjust according to a client's end-goal. In all, there are over 1,000 possible configurations using the Vivarium Building Tool. We're proud of it, and it's already proven to be our most popular store related page since the new site launched. By February 2016, each of the vivarium-related articles was re-written again to include the most up-to-date information, in an effort to offer the best support to our clients.
 
Siavrakas Family
 
My favorite part of this whole story took place in April of 2016, when Jessica & I welcomed our son Michael Gus into the world. He's terribly cute, and spends every day with us in NEHERP's office.
 
Towards the the end of 2016, our staff size had grown considerably, and we moved (yet again!) to our largest space yet. The new spot allows us to stock nearly twice as many vivarium related products, pull orders with much more efficiency, and has made a significant difference for the team. Also, our office is finally large enough to walk around in, which was a refreshing change to say the least!
 
From the bottom of my heart, I'd like to take this opportunity to thank our clients for choosing NEHERP over the years. Thank you for allowing me to start this company, and thank you for supporting what we do. Considering that I met Jessica when she came into NEHERP's old store, the incredible truth is this... Without the support of you (our awesome clients), I'd have never met Jess. Without the support of this awesome hobby, our son might not exist. Needless to say, "I owe you one". Jessica and I plan to spend the rest of our careers helping fuel the herp hobby, Zoos, Nature Centers, and Educational Facilities which have done so much for us by supporting our family's business.
 
Thank you for your trust, business, and continued support!
-Mike
(Partner/Founder NEHERP)