Odd pets

If you’re looking for a pet more removed than the fluffy kind, a reptile or amphibian might be the answer.

Sometimes scales or a shell are just what you need in a companion. Popular choices in Christchurch are the axolotl, blue-tongued lizard, or a species of turtle. Often requiring an enclosure, consider earthquake risk when placing it in your home, as well as your ability to maintain the required temperature and habits.

Reptiles are a huge time and financial commitment, and many end up in rescue shelters. Use Metropol’s tips to guide you on the basics and whether it is the right choice for you. Always do your research before bringing your pet home, to ensure the environment, diet, and care you provide is what they need to flourish.


With a lifespan of up to 20 years, an axolotl might be the right choice for a long-lasting connection and company with low maintenance. They are known for being forgivable to beginner amphibian owners’ mistakes and need to be fully submerged. Plus, their quirky looks are great conversation starters.

Enclosure: Aim for a glass tank that allows at least 70 litres and install a water-filtering system. Add big rocks so the axolotl does not confuse it for food, and provide ample places for the axolotl to hide. Ensure the tank is in a stable, quiet environment, with little temperature change, maintaining it at around 17 to 18 deg C. Avoid direct sunlight and housing more than one axolotl together.

Diet: Being carnivores, axolotls like to feed on insects, small fish, and crustaceans. Chop their food into swallowable bites and feed them every second day.

Blue-tongued lizard

Easy-going, with a striking blue tongue, this odd pet makes a great family addition. They live between 12-15 years on average, and can grow up to 55cm.

Enclosure: To a glass enclosure, add stable decorations, especially something for them to rub when shedding. Include a cool end with a temperature of 24 to 28 deg C. and a basking spot between 30 to 35 deg C, and ensure there is a space where they can hide.

Diet: Omnivorous, feed garden snails, or crickets for a treat. Blue-tongued lizards will eat most fruits and vegetables, yet it’s best to be sure.


Gentle and gorgeous, turtles often prefer to be looked at rather than cuddled. There are plenty of species around, each with different needs.

Enclosure: Bigger is always better with turtles, as they require a diving space with a minimum depth of 2.5 times the length of their shell, and should be kept on their own. Different species need different water temperatures, but most require a heat of around 26 to 30 deg C, and a water filtration system is important. Provide plenty of basking areas with a heated basking lamp to replicate the sun, as well as a fluorescent reptile light. Decorate with aquatic safe rocks big enough to avoid ingestion too, and always consider flat rocks for basking.

Diet: Clean water for swimming, eating, drinking, and swallowing is a must. For protein, turtles like shrimp and crickets, and eat thinly sliced or grated vegetables like carrots, squash, and green beans. Avoid sprayed flowers, and too many leafy greens such as kale and bok choy.


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