History of Exotic-Pets.co.uk
Exotic-Pets.co.uk started life as MantisUK.com back in 1999, at the time Karen was keeping and breeding Praying Mantids.
Because her first Mantis was mis-sold; Karen wanted to give as much information as she could with her mantids.
“I can remember the day when we visited our local pet shop and found this fantsic looking creature - I'd never seen anything like it before. It was already pretty large and when he told us it would reach a size of around 20-25cm, well, I had to have it.
We asked the owner everything we would require to keep this strange looking insect. We were sold a large glass tank, heat mat, spot light (for it to bask), a plastic plant, spray bottle, live crickets and not forgetting the bright green Praying Mantis. As this was my first exotic pet, I paid for this with my hard earned pocket money, which I'd been saving for some time.
When we got home I set everything up, fed it a live cricket, it was great, then within four days, it died! I was devistated and upset. At this time, I had no idea what I had done wrong - everything was set up correctly... well, so I thought. Looking back on this now, the pet shop owner only told me one correct piece of information, that it ate live insects. It wasn't going to reach 20-25cm, it was an African Praying Mantis, these reach no larger than 10cm and it was already sub adult when we bought it.
The reason it died so quick was due the high temperature under the spot light - room temperature is better for them not 35C+. So basically, everything I had purchased wasn't required. A few years later, I found someone selling Praying Mantids and I decided to give it another go. Once I knew what I was doing, my eyes were opened and before I knew it I had at least fifteen different species.”
Originally Karen was going to sell her mantids via the Free Ad papers - but her brother Philip suggested she create her own website, as this was a cheaper and better way to publish her Praying Mantis knowledge.
With the help of friends within the web industry, Philip designed and built Karen a site for her new found hobby; MantisUK.com.
MantisUK.com was a very basic site, requiring Karen to learn some HTML to publish the care sheets. The site became very popular, not only was Karen selling out of Mantids, but it opened up communication with a host of industry contacts and experts.
“Because MantisUK.com was at the top of the search engines, I had a range of people contact me within the publishing, TV and filming industy.
My first contact was with Paul Harcourt Davies - a photographer. He wanted to use some Orchid Praying Mantids for a book he was currently working on.
Back in 2002 I was contacted by a lady who required a number of Giant Praying Mantids for filming the IMAX Bugs 3D Movie which was released in 2003. I jumped at this chance and provided a number of adults and Oothecas for the mating and hatching sences. My family and I went along to watch this film, it was breathtaking! I even got my name and website in the credits! ”
Since then, the amount of people contacting us has grown, to list a few and some of the recent ones;
- German TV studio - for filming a childrens show
- American and German Book Publishers - to use some photos in their books
- Local Radio Stations - BBC York, BBC Sheffield and Peakfm.
- Various TV Production Companies - insects for shows
- BBC - Various Childrens TV Shows - insects for shows
- BBC - Let Me Entertain You hosted by Brian Conley and Christine Bleakley.
- BBC - Life in the Undergrowth (helped them source insects)
- BBC - LIFE - most recently
It wasn't long before Karen was asked for; and offered other insects. Seeing an opportunity; Philip duplicated the MantisUK.com site and created BugsUK.com.
Although BugsUK.com was short lived, it soon became apparent that there was a market for an online pet shop.
“We were getting offered a wide range of animals, meeting the experts and building up an impressive amount of industry contacts. From the success of both MantisUK.com and BugsUK.com, it made sense to grow the business to include some of the Amphibians and Reptiles she'd been offered.”
Although, this was easier said than done:
“We both wanted to see this done properly, so we made every effort to get a Pet Shop License - wasn't easy, our local council didn't want know. We had to go further afield and jump though some hoops.”
Eventually a Pet Shop License was issued and in September 2005, Exotic-Pets.co.uk was launched.
“It was an exciting time, the deveolpers had spent weeks designing and developing a the new site. Luckily, it was even more successful than we anticipated.”
Karen was only working on the site part time, she had a full time job - it was a big commitment; and wasn't long before it became apparent that she needed to quit her full time job and concentrate her efforts on Exotic-Pets.co.uk.
Since then, Karen has put everything in to building Exotic-Pets.co.uk.
“It's been a busy couple of years. We've had a few teething problems along the way, mainly due to e-mail issues and the speed which the company as grown. However, things are in place and we're in a good position to grow and better the business.”
The same MantisUK.com ethos applies to Exotic-Pets.co.uk - our aim to supply good basic care and information, along with the best quality Amphibians, Reptiles, Inverts and pet supplies the UK pet trade has to offer.