Animal Exchange (301) 424-PETS  
Small Mammals
Fish & Herptiles
Dog & Cat Supplies
Annual Store Events
Tip Sheets

Store Hours:
Mon., Thurs 10-8
Wed., Fri., Sat 10-6
Sun 11-3
Closed Tuesdays

(301) 424-7387

January 21, 2016

Snowstorm Warning

With a big snowstorm coming here are a few tips for your pets:

— Have extra pet food in your freezer just in case.

— Power failures and falling temps will cause Birds and Mammals to eat more to keep their body temperature up.

— Reptiles can be put in a cloth bag securely tied and you can provide the heat they need. Yes, sleep with your snake…

— Birds need light to eat. Keep them in a bright area. Covering at night will help retain the heat they generate.

The animals at the store will have extra supplies in their cages with special attention going to extra water bottles for Guinea Pigs and other heavy drinkers while birds will have extra surfaces of food  e.g. spray millet. We may not get in on time but we will be here!

June 2, 2015

Are you an inventor?

Filed under: Small Animals,Store News — admin @ 10:30 am

Some of our customers are. The bird toys we sell include toys that are designed and built by more than 3 inventors who we mentored as they satisfied the needs of their pets. In the near future, we will be offering a Roborski Hamster Playground that not only was designed by a young lady with her father’s help but is being manufactured by a major pet industry supplier. How great is that? Are you next?

July 28, 2014

35 Years…

Please forgive me if I reminisce about the last 35 years of Animal Exchange in Rockville, Maryland…

In 1979, I had been working for three years at Gaithersburg Pet Center (GPS), originally part time to distract myself from my father’s battle with cancer. When it became apparent that I could do a better and more honest job on my own, I offered to purchase GPC for $35,000, but was turned down by the owner who subsequently sold it for ¼ million. I began searching for my own space, not realizing that many landlords, including Giant, would not lease to a pet store! Finally a realtor got me a space of 1500 sq ft in the back of the Ritchie Center. The managing partner had recently absconded leaving 2 investors on their own. Fortunately they did not know to ask for a business plan or even a financial statement, neither of which I had or understood.

The initial check for rent was written and before it was even cashed, I secured 424-Pets as the phone number with the phone company and then went looking for money. It turned out that a wife was not a financial entity and even with securities in hand, no loans were offered. My Mother was 76 at this point but agreed to lend me enough to open the doors, and we did on August 5, 1979!

Much of the building, painting, and display were done by my son Daniel, 14 at the time, and me. We hung pegboard from the ceiling, designed and built the small animal racks that are still in use today, and stocked the shelves with the help of owners of four other pet stores. The Fire Marshall wanted us to use fire proof peg board (non-existent) and install sprinklers until we pointed out that neither was required for our space. The City of Rockville assured us there was no Pet Shop License (two years later they realized their mistake) and we ordered our Psittacine Permit from the State (later changed to include all birds). After $27,000 the store opened fully stocked with birds, small animals, reptiles, amphibians, and fish.

Using my Mother’s retirement money made me very nervous so I repaid that during the first year instead of paying myself. By year three, when the adjacent store became available, we doubled our size and gave the groomer a separate section. Salt water tanks were becoming readily available so Mother and I signed up for a Marine Biology course Cornell offered in St. Croix and expanded from fresh water fish into salt water.

Seeing the salt water fish in their own world was so inspirational that in 1985 Mother and I took off to see our Australian bird species in their country. What a fabulous experience! New Zealand had the most amazing collection of birds owned by a private individual and many private collections of finches and parakeets. And yes, we did see even more salt water fish!

The first local organization we joined was the Rockville Chamber of Commerce. As Legislative Vice President, I had been addressing animal related legislation and also local issues such as sign regulations. In a 1989 Chamber meeting, I learned the Budweiser Clydesdales would be in town for the Hometown Holidays parade on Saturday of Memorial Day weekend. They were available Friday afternoon so I rounded up Catholic, Protestant, and Jewish clerics for a 4:30pm Blessing of the Animals at the store. Wow, what a way to celebrate my 50th Birthday! We’ve done blessings ever since.

Here are the Budweiser Clydesdales at Animal Exchange's 1st Blessing of the Animals.

The next few years, as Mother went through her 90’s, we learned about fractured hips as she recovered from hers and began walking again. When she hit 98 years old, I could not continue with seven days a week at the store. Mother needed attention.

Packing up 3000 sq ft after 22 years to squeeze into 1800 sq ft was not only a logistical nightmare but very costly.  We discontinued fish, reptiles and amphibians, and a lot of dog, choosing to specialize even more in birds and small animals and so we have for 13 years.

Small business is tough. The only business harder than Pet is Restaurant. We’ve had extraordinary good luck and support from a clientele of honest, altruistic, and very intelligent people. Our goal of selling only locally raised animals is here with every bird, from our Umbrella Cockatoo, to all the parakeets bred by customers. The mice and hamsters are bred with focus on behavior and genetics. We never have animals that we do not love and appreciate the great homes they go to. Okay, so it was really hard to have our Hyacinth Macaw Andy go to a new home after 22 years, not to mention Buttons, the Sulfur Crested Cockatoo that was ours for 28 years.

So as we celebrate 35 wonderful years, we give thanks for all the amazing animals that have passed through our hands and all of you who love pets too!


June 22, 2013


Filed under: Bird Care,Reptiles,Small Animals,Store News,Uncategorized — admin @ 12:31 pm

Do you have a favorite pet photo? Be sure to enter it in the Animal Exchange photo contest that is open thru July. No picture? Well go take one and send it in. We cherish this opportunity to see our actual customers that you all love so much.


Animal Exchange now has 16 different videos on our YouTube channel with more than 1 million viewings. We hope you have seen and benefited from these videos that have information based on many of the questions we answer every day at the store. There is always so much more to learn about animals and not a day goes by that each of us here does not pick up some good idea in the store. Please let us know if you would like us to cover another topic that is a particular interest of yours.

June 7, 2013

Food For Thought

Filed under: Small Animals,Store News,Uncategorized — admin @ 6:59 pm

What a great phrase. Yes the food we eat enables us to think and the same applies to our pets. That’s why we have always searched for the very best foods to provide for our animals and yours.

Lab Blox are essential for my small animals. It’s what is fed in research laboratories for the best performance of their animals. It’s not easy for me to get since the suppliers do not distribute to the pet industry. It takes a lot of mice to eat 50 pounds and that is what comes in one bag. Monthly I meet the truck and collect 15 bags which you find in the bulk bin in the small animal section. When customers bring in new babies for us, I can tell by looking at them if they have been raised on Lab Blox. If they have, they are bigger, more robust and just better looking. Do the best for your pets with the proper food.

Bunnies, Guinea Pigs and Chinchillas each eat a special diet and we prefer Oxbow Products for them. The young animal diets are fed until Bunnies and Guinea  Pigs are 6 months and older and all these pets get a large handful of hay too. Alfalfa for youngsters, with Timothy and all the other hay types for everyone.

May 16, 2010

YouTube Videos

Filed under: Bird Care,Small Animals,Store News — admin @ 11:05 am

Have you seen the latest on CHINCHILLAS?  It actually includes pictures of Chinchillas in Chile in 1923 before they  came to the U.S. and started the industry here.

The Wing Trimming video will help you keep your bird trimmed and safe as the season for open doors and windows is here. Ruth at Animal Exchange will also do wings and nails for you with an appointment.

March 20, 2010

Easter What?

Filed under: Seasonal,Small Animals,Store News — admin @ 3:30 pm

We do get questions about  that cute little mammal that delivers eggs this time of year but we do not have any. We do have wonderful Holland Lop and Dwarf Rabbits but they are not seasonal, they are year round pets that  are delightful companions, living for an average of 8 years and doing very well either indoors or out. We have all the equiptment you will need but it’s lots of fun to build your own outdoor  hutch. Just be sure it will fit thru the door if you build it inside.

August 1, 2009


Filed under: Bird Care,Seasonal,Small Animals,Store News,Uncategorized — admin @ 6:57 am

August 5, 1979. That is the day Animal Exchange rang  the cash register the very first time. Since we always celebrate on a Sunday, August 2, 2009 is the party day. Join us between 1 and 3 in the afternoon for treats for you and your pets. As always, pets are welcome.

October 9, 2007


Filed under: Small Animals — admin @ 10:18 am

   Yes there are dwarf hamsters but they are not just small Syrian hamsters. They are actually different species and there is  more than one. There is a very nice book on the dwarfs that we encourage you to read if you are interested in these active little rodents. It is in the book rack facing the small animals.  

   One of the points that is interesting is that  the dwarf species can interbreed and so when we get these little guys in, it’s sometimes unclear which one they actually are. In any event they are all very active and are usually easier to keep together than the solitary Syrian.

   All species of hamsters are easily kept in our favorite cage, a ten gallon tank. Our money saving set up includes a book about the animal you choose and in our 28 years in the pet business, it has proven to be the safest and easiest to keep clean. Tubes and toys can be added but we look for an easy to clean home first.

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