Lizard Skin Supply Affected By Disease?

DPbrownteju08Someone from Texas wrote to me recently to ask:[I went to a boot store to buy a pair of boots. While there,] the owner and I were talking about lizard skin boots. He was telling me there is a disease affecting the supply of farm raised lizards causing the manufacturer to increase the price of lizard skin boots. Have you heard of this before?

My reply–

I have not heard about a disease affecting farm-raised lizards that have or will affect prices of teju lizard skin boots. The exotic skin market is fickle, and prices of hides change regularly depending on a number of factors unrelated to disease. From what I understand, though, the price variances in exotic leathers fluctuates both up and down, depending on the market, the season, and the supply availability.

When you think about it, since most exotic skin boots have those skins only on the vamp (foot) — not the whole boot — then the actual amount of exotic hide that goes into a boot is not nearly as much as the leather on the shafts and sole. Most of the cost of a boot is not from the materials from which boots are made — it is the cost of labor. That’s why USA-made hand-crafted boots cost much more than machine-made boots, and why boots made in China where pay for workers is abysmally low have lower prices. You get what you pay for.

I cannot say for certain, but even if the cost of a lizard skin were to double, that would not cause an alarming increase in the cost of a pair of boots with lizard skins on the vamp.

It seems to me — and this is only my opinion — that a manufacturer advising a boot retailer that a disease of an animal from which a certain exotic hide is made is using that as an excuse to raise prices without much real justification. A boot retailer cannot demand to see the cost of goods that a manufacturer pays, or the labor rates, so the boot retailer is at the mercy of the manufacturer, who may be using an excuse like that to distract attention and raise prices to increase revenue and profit.

If you think about it, that happens all the time. We constantly hear on the news that due to drought and lack of feed for cows raised for beef, that beef prices will double. While beef prices have gone up, the increase has not been as dramatic as the media hypes it to be, as the media relays the alarm from the producers who are looking for methods to increase revenue and profits. Honestly, these kinds of things are all about the money, pure and simple.

I am not saying that some disease may be affecting current supply of lizard skins, but I also don’t think a short-term shortage should affect the long-term prices of teju lizard boots.

By the way, I tried searching on the internet for information about disease, virus, or fungal problems with lizard, ostrich, and snakes farmed to make products like boots, and did not find anything. I would figure that if this were a real, emerging problem of significance, there would be news reports available, or articles in trade journals, etc. I have not found any.

Disclaimer: I am not an economist, but am married to one.

Thanks for such an interesting question this morning!

Note: subsequently to writing this reply, I did more research, and communicated with three major boot manufacturer representatives. No one said that they had heard of a situation affecting farm-raised lizards. If you have facts that support this claim or other pertinent details, write to me. Thank you!

Life is short: do your research!