About New England Herpetoculture
Your One-Stop Vivarium Shop!tm
NEHERP is the bioactive terrarium specialty shop that zoos, museums, nature centers, breeders, and other professionals rely on. Our team is proud to offer the best customer service, the most complete vivarium informational resources, and the best selection of bioactive terrarium supplies online. We're a family owned business that manufactures our own products, grows our own plants, and cultures our own microfauna. We take pride in the quality of everything we do, and care deeply for the industry we support. Our goal is to responsibly help people bring a piece of the wilderness indoors, and help make the animals in our care as comfortable as possible.
About Our Animals
Animals Are Our Passion, Not Our Business's Bottom Line ♥
We aren't a pet store, and we don't purchase animals for resale. We work with animals because we love learning about them, and learning from them. As of 2022, we've got a couple dozen incredible live animals at our shop, and the primary reason for their continued residence is to help us further our understanding of each species' environmental requirements. Designing, building, maintaining, and observing a wide variety of species-specific terrarium environments has helped us gain a particularly solid understanding of animals and their ideal "nature-replicating" environments. Those experiences have provided us with the information necessary to author (#1 Google Ranked) articles, develop products, select appropriate plant species, and more. We hope that the (totaly free) information our articles provide will continue to push the hobby towards responsible & professional-grade husbandry.
Our shop very rarely has animals available, so we encourage all of our clients to patronize a rescue organization or private breeder 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 and commercial breeders make up a significant portion of our client-base, we're always happy to help support our rescue and breeder customers by sending business their way. This policy helps our customers gain access to healthy captive-bred animals while ensuring the breeders and rescues who support us gain some business too. From an ethical standpoint, supporting breeders and rescues helps small organizations, curbs the demand for wild-caught animals, and often yields the healthiest pet.
Our business has never engaged in, or supported the sale/trade of wild caught animals. Many extremely common and inexpensive species found in pet shops (Anoles, House Geckos, Golden Geckos, Fire Bellied Toads, Iguanas, Turtles, Green Tree Frogs, and many more) are very often wild-caught. Before purchasing an animal, we strongly recommend doing a little research on it, in an effort to ensure you aren't accidentally supporting the wild caught animal trade.
Meet The Team
Founder / Co-Owner
Mike has cared for exotic pets and live vivarium environments since he was a student, and has worked with over 70 species of animals over the years. Having grown up in and around his family's wholesale flora business, he spent much of his life working with and shipping perishables before opening New England Herpetoculture. Mike is responsible for product and business development, marketing (which we almost never do), and website development. On the increasingly rare occasion that Mike isn't working, he spends his time gaming, working on cars, building stuff in his shop, playing guitar, pranking members of the crew, and spending time with Jess & their son.
Random Trivia: While carrying a heavy vivarium down some stairs, Mike broke his ankle in two places but managed to save the enclosure on his way down. He also has a severe allergy to gimmicky "Bioactive" products & marketing.
Manager / Co-Owner
NEHERP's Momma! Jessica manages customer service, does the books, and helps out a little bit in every department. She's worked with over 35 different species of Reptiles & Amphibians over the years. Having grown up in and around garden clubs, Jess put her horticultural knowledge to work when she developed the Horticulture division in 2012, and helped design the current growing facility in 2021. When Jess isn't managing NEHERP, she's busy being an awesome Mom to her son. Jess is also a gamer, frog keeper, pianist, singer, and unreasonably good cook.
Random Trivia: Jess has a strange fear of chalk and talc-like products and an uncanny ability to remember customers and their corresponding info. If you've ever watched Bob's Burgers, Jess is a lot like Linda only slightly more ridiculous.
Assistant To The Regional Manager
Mike W joined the team in 2013, just after the retail shop merged with the warehouse. Mike is an amphibian and reptile breeder, vivarium enthusiast, and horticulturist. Over the years he's become the company's Assistant Manager, overseeing all of the basic operations at NEHERP. He spends his spare time growing terrarium plants, working with exotic animals, listening to great music, and hanging out with his dog Sozo. Since he started at NEHERP, his exotic pet and vivarium collection has grown to dwarf NEHERP's! Mike is a great guy who has the client's best interest in mind every day, and the company wouldn't be the same without him.
Random Trivia: We suspect Mike W may lead a double life as some sort of secret invincible ninja. He has displayed the ability to catch lightning-fast species using bare hands in a way that seems almost unnatural. He once fell off the back of a truck and had a 6-foot rack full of supplies fall on top of him without sustaining injury. He totaled his car during a lunch break and returned to work as if nothing had happened. When sledgehammers and crowbars failed to take down a wall during one of our construction projects, Mike W. kicked the wall down while wearing sneakers. He disappears and reappears in different places, keeps nunchucks in his car, and can do back flips. Is Mike W. a Ninja disguised as a reptile expert? You decide.
Cameron had been an animal enthusiast throughout his educational career, and he put his knowledge & passion to work when he joined the team back in 2015. After 5 years packing orders and Graduating College in 2021, Cam has become the Logistics Department Supervisor, and is running the show behind the scenes. It's difficult to list all of the things Cam does at the shop, but he basically has his hand in every part of order fulfillment. Cameron has worked in every department at our shop, and knows nearly everything there is to know about NEHERP. If you've ordered from us since the beginning of 2022, Cameron helped to get your order to you. Beyond order-related stuff, Cam has also helped out in our Rhacodactylus, Correlophus, Phelsuma, and Lepidodactylus breeding projects. If we had to pick a cheesy inspirational poster that suits Cameron's persona, it'd probably be "Enthusiasm Is Contagious".
Greenhouse & Logistics
Griffin is Cameron's younger big brother, and has been helping out at NEHERP since 2019. Having grown up around Cam's animal hobby, he'd gained a basic understanding of what it's like to be a herpetoculturist. At NEHERP, he spends most of his time in the logistics department, focusing on accurately pulling plants & supplies for orders. When Griffin isn't at NEHERP, he's balancing his effort between college, baseball, and an awesome local fireplace installer. We hear he's got a mean throwing arm, but he promises not to use it while packing/sorting boxes.
Customer Service + Animal Husbandry
Emma is a former customer with a passion for animal husbandry and exhibit design. With a Bachelor's degree in Captive Wildlife Care and Education & a minor in Zoology, Emma brings a wonderful pool of knowledge to the table. At the shop, her primary responsibilities include customer service and animal husbandry. Occasionally she'll help out in Logistics too by customizing customer vivarium kits, as well as help process orders. Through 2023, Emma and Mike are planning to work together on publishing a bunch of new articles, in an effort to help progress the hobby in a responsible & productive way. At home, she cares for a small handful of critters ranging from fish to Geckos. When she's not helping out at NEHERP, she spends her time helping to maintain the live animal department of a Children's Museum in CT.
Production Department & Grow Room
Ryan seems to constantly radiate positivity, and has become a welcome part of the team since he joined up in 2020. While originally a part of the logistics team, he's proven himself to be almost ridiculously effective at running the Production Department. These days, Ryan produces & packages the majority of our Substrate blends, Fruit Fly Media, Background Mixes, and more. In 2021, we estimate that Ryan (alone) produced and bagged over two tons of our NEHERP Terrarium Substrate. Impromptu meetings with Ryan frequently conclude with innovative changes being made to our production department too, thanks to his focus on our company's constant improvement.
Riley is a newer member of the team who spends her time helping out in the Logistics department. With a phenomenal accuracy record and experience with a wide variety of different species, she's quickly become an indispensable member of the team. When she's not helping out in Logistics, Riley spends time with her family's pack of friendly dogs and attends high school. After completing her education, she hopes to eventually become a Certified EMT! From our perspective, her good vibes alone will heal people.
Logistics + Grow Room
Jeremy is a college student and former customer of NEHERP who expertly cares for a handful of Reptiles & Amphibians at home. Thanks to an educational background in horticulture and experience with different animal species, Jeremy brings a whole lot to the team. His sarcastic, dry, and absolutely awesome sense of humor keeps the logistics department rolling, and has nearly made Mike S. fall off of a ladder laughing on at least two occasions. OSHA violations aside, this place just wouldn't be the same without Jeremy and his absolutely epic jokes.
The VOAG Crew
Greenhouse Propagation, Production, and more!
Our company accepts student members of CT's VOAG program for on-the-job training. Students gain knowledge and experience working with live plants, exotic animals, microfauna, and more. Less exciting benefits of the job include instilling young'uns with work ethic, which there's no shortage of at our warehouse! When jobs are available, each student member is able to apply for their own preferred specialization. If you are a central-Connecticut high school student or teacher interested in this program, please consider applying or contacting us! (No worries students, our business doesn't accept "volunteer" labor. You'll get paid the same as everyone else! ♥)
Manager Of The Department Of Cuteness
Jess & Mike's pride and joy, little Michael Gus came to work with his mom and dad every day until he started Kindergarten. He enjoys watching frogs & snakes move around in their terrariums, and spends plenty of time running around the office at the shop. One of Michael Gus's first words was frog, and by the time he was 14 months old he could identify and name Frogs, Snakes, Geckos, and Lizards. By the time he had turned two, Michael had become fairly proficient at watering plants in our grow rooms. More recently, he's begun helping the folks at USPS and FedEx when they come to pick up boxes at the end of the day.
A Brief History of Our Company
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 events which brought this place from concept to creation.
2003-2007: Hobbyist Years and 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, but it was a fun way to begin learning. While I was working and in college, I began working with Leopard Geckos, Day Geckos, Bearded Dragons, and a few more common species as a small-scale breeder. Every season that passed helped me learn a bit more about the hobby, and I became more enthusiastic as time went on.
It was around this time that I attended my first industry expo in New York. The vast majority of small business owners, breeders, and enthusiasts who were vending at the show proved to be a more enthusiastic & educational resource than any place I had visited prior. In most cases, the health and vibrancy of the animals was a notable improvement over any I'd seen at any big-name pet shop. I received great advice, was pointed towards lots of great online resources, and the experience drastically changed my perspective. I learned a whole lot at subsequent expos, as my passion for the hobby continued to grow.
In late 2007, a new and still-experimental aspect of the hobby jumped out and grabbed my attention. I designed and built my first live vivarium. (Now popularized "bioactive terrarium") There wasn't much info on the subject available in stores or online back then, so I joined some hobbyist forums, got involved with the community, and experimented by building lots of terrariums. Back then, Dart Frog hobbyists were the only group of herpetoculturalists who had long-term experience with this style of enclosure, and I spent a lot of time learning from experts in that field. Considering how incredible these little environments were, I was shocked to find that there were so few online businesses fully catering to their design & creation. (At the time, I can only remember two stores which offered some vivarium-appropriate supplies in the USA!)
2008-2010: A Tiny Startup
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 and propagation techniques. Eventually, the first samples of what would eventually become "NEHERP moss" were offered on forums for hobbyists to try, and were received with universal positivity. With customer feedback in mind, ours became the first company online to offer pre-processed live moss for vivariums. The enthusiast community I was a part of seemed to really like the plants & moss I had available, so I decided to start this business officially. During this time, NEHERP was an incredibly tiny basement business with a comically small grow room and stock area packed in a small space behind my apartment's kitchen.
As the company took shape, I relied on the experiences I had as an enthusiast to influence what I wanted to make happen. First and 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 often misunderstood hobby. In summary, my focus would be to support everything related to the creation of live vivarium / bioactive terrarium environments.
When our website first launched in late 2008, we offered only a tiny handful of mostly dart frog and vivarium related supplies. One of the hard supplies we offered early on was our NEHERP Vivarium Substrate, which may have been the first store-brand of substrate designed specifically for bioactive terrariums. While our substrate, moss, and other plants were great, our website was terrible (screenshot for awfulness reference), and the selection was very sparse compared to these days. Thankfully friends and fans of our small business helped spread the word on forums, and we grew enough to begin offering a few brand names of herp supplies along with an increased plant selection. By 2010, the number of plants, animals, and supplied we worked with increased significantly, which led us to begin renting a very small warehouse space. (Our first "actual" space!)
2010-2011 - The Retail Store
Towards the end of 2010, the company expanded into a small retail store in New Britain CT, which offered everything available online plus an assortment of captive bred, and often locally-bred Reptiles & Amphibians. The website was better than the original version, but was still extremely basic. A few mainstream brands were added to our lineup of available supplies as the company continued to grow.
Sometime around 2011, we made the decision to minimize any competition between us and our breeder and rescue clients, and we discontinued nearly 90% of our breeding operation. Rather than working with as many 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 mutually beneficial relationship that has continued to present day.
The Vivarium Construction 101 article was another one of our company's turning points, and is our most popular informational page to this day. The article's popularity encouraged us to eventually write more articles as time went on. By the end of the year, Vivarium Construction 101 had been expanded to become the most detailed, and one of the web's most popular online vivarium building guides. After countless updates & improvements over the years, I'm proud to say Vivarium Construction 101 has been the top-ranked Vivarium Construction article on Google for over a decade!
In late 2011, a plant enthusiast walked into the New Britain retail shop and changed both my life and the direction of New England Herpetoculture forever. (I'll skip the lovey-dovey stuff, but Jess and I are soulmates! ♥) After we met, we quickly began working together full-time at the retail shop. Over the following year or so, Jess was instrumental in helping to further develop our best-selling Vivarium Substrates, Medias, Horticultural division, and more. From that point on, NEHERP had two passionate people running the show.
It wasn't long before the quickly-growing website drastically overshadowed the retail store, and Jess & I made the tough decision to transition the company back to being an online-only shop. With a larger warehouse space and customer suggestions in mind, our business expanded to offer one of the widest selections of vivarium related supplies online.
2012-2013: The Warehouse Merge, Articles, and Mike W.
With many new products launched, and a yet another less-awful website update launched (screenshot), things began to grow at a quicker rate. This was when our stylized "" logo debuted, which has been our primary logo ever since. Many new informational articles were added, and we created our first enclosure specific Vivarium Kit products. We didn't realize it at the time, but these customizable kits were going to become a big part of the future for NEHERP.
In 2013, we hired our first full time employee Mike W, who has been with the company ever since. Mike W's herp hobby quickly grew from a few frogs to a few dozen species; dwarfing NEHERP's animal department. The expertise he brought to the table helped us develop & improve more products, as well as quadruple the size of our plant growing operation. As time moved on, he became more involved in supervisory roles, as well as act as lead designer on some of the terrariums we create for clients.
2014-2015: More Products, Growing Pains, and a Wedding!
Our first fully hand-coded website launched in 2014, and was the biggest improvement yet. (Screenshot) Client reception was pretty positive, and the team was relieved to finally have a halfway decent website! Between the improved website, bigger location, and revised care articles, things really started to pick up!
This period was also one of product R&D, which led to multiple new product releases. Things like Modular Cork Planters, Gecko Background Kits, Glass Inserts, Custom Background Texture Mix, Vertical Conversion Kits, and tons of new wood decor all launched within roughly the same year. In retrospect, the most critical product developments were our NEHERP Moss Slurry and V2 Substrate Blend, which have both become some of our best selling items to date.
Despite the rapid-fire product releases & aggressive growth, this ended up being an especially rough time for the company. A family business is a family first, and 2015-2016 was an extremely difficult period for us. With some close family members passing away, family health crises looming, multiple thefts, and drastic shipper price increases happening in the background, the usually enjoyable "daily grind" became far more challenging. Obviously we made it through the difficult times, but it was one of our shop's biggest challenges to this day. Just as the business's rough patch came to a close, Jess and I were finally married in July of 2015.
2016-2019: New Website, Location, and Baby!
The 6'th version of our website launched in 2016, which helped solidify our little company's spot as the #1-2 search engine result for nearly every topic relating to vivariums & bioactive terrariums. There are lots of new features to mention, but the most pivotal is probably the Vivarium Builder tool, and it's supporting Vivarium Kits. We began offering over 170 different vivarium related kits for all 30 of the most common enclosure sizes, making ours the most comprehensive vivarium support website online. By February 2016, each of the vivarium-related articles had been rewritten to include more up-to-date information. Staying current with evolving husbandry practices was (and still is) a top priority.
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 lots of time at NEHERP. It's incredible to think about, but without clients like you supporting this company, I wouldn't have had the opportunity to meet Jess when she walked into the retail store back in 2011. Needless to say, I'm extremely grateful for every one of our awesome customers who've helped to make it all possible.
Like most small businesses, the pandemic absolutely blindsided us. To comply with our state's "essential business only" mandate, our lineup was paired-down to the absolute basics only for much of 2020. Shockingly enough, the hobby's popularity exploded during the pandemic and demand increased sharply. While the first few months of 2020 looked apocalyptic for our shop, we were stronger than ever before by the end of the year. We carried on through 2021 with our strongest staff group ever.
By late 2021 we had finally moved to the new & improved location in Plainville CT, with plans to open a small walk-in showroom in July/August 2022. With an overwhelming increase in space for plants, supplies, and product R&D, the future looks especially exciting. There are many irons in the fire for the future, and we can't wait to see how things work out.
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.Thank you for your trust, business, and continued support!
What Makes Us Different:
Over 50 (combined) years of exotic flora experience
Over 60 (combined) years of exotic animal experience
We're ex-breeders of 45+ species of Reptiles & Amphibians
Vivarium Supplies: We're Your 1-Stop Vivarium Shop™ for a reason
Live Plants: Reptile safe, amphibian safe, and always healthy
Fruit Fly Cultures: Clean, productive, reliable, and carefully shipped
Vivarium Substrates: Often imitated, never duplicated, industry best
Pro Grade: Our products are used by Zoos, Museums, and Nature Centers
Most NEHERP Brand supplies are manufactured in the USA
One-on-one customer service provided by enthusiasts who care
Fueled by client referrals. Under 0.001% of our revenue goes to ads (2015-2022)
Anonymous consultations available for commercial vivarium builders on request
We schedule all plant and microfauna orders to avoid weekend transit delays
Ground shipments are guaranteed during fair weather (See Guarantee)
We were the first "captive bred only" reptile store in New England
Our retail store scored 100% (never 99.99%) grades at every inspection by the Dept. of Ag.
Store policies were built to support rescues and responsible hobbyist breeders
Our husbandry recommendations put animals and accuracy first
Most of PA, ME, NY State, and DE have a 1-day transit time
Check our Transit Map for more specific info
• Staff members are trained to prevent cross-contamination
• Vivarium drainage water is sterilized before disposal
• "Animal Contact" items are sterilized and/or double bagged before disposal
• Our shipping boxes are made from recycled cardboard
• Up to 60% of our outgoing shipping boxes are recycled
• 100% of our new boxes are made from recycled cardboard
• We recycle all incoming packing materials from suppliers
• We use clean recycled paper for void fill in boxes
• Our Heat and Ice Packs are biodegradable and non-toxic
• Energy audits in 2013, 2017, and 2021 have minimized energy consumption at our shop
• Over 8,000W worth of inefficient lighting has been replaced with LEDs and T5HOs
• Over 13,500W worth of electric heat has been replaced w/modern solutions since 2017
• Our grow operation is free of harsh chemical pesticides and fertilizers
• Most plants are watered using carbon-filtered water, not more wasteful R/O
• The potting soil blends we use are organic and natural
• Our plant nutrients are OMRI certified organic products
• Pest control is managed using bug zappers and other chemical-free means