Name: Giant burrowing cockroach
AKA: Rhinoceros cockroach or litterbug
Origin: North Queensland
Believe it or not, even the cockroach can make a pet for the truly adventurous. The heaviest of the species, at 35g, is the giant burrowing cockroach. It can grow to 80mm in length and is odourless and clean. It raises its babies on dead gum leaves in sandy Queensland in burrows up to one metre long.
Name: Carpet python
AKA: Children’s python
Origin: Northern Australia
Most kids dream of ponies, but for the fearless, a snake could be their new best friend. Carpet pythons are actually non-venomous, quite placid and live for 25 to 30 years. But beware: check your local laws first before taking one home — it’s not legal everywhere to own one — and they cost up to $1000.
Name: Blue-tongue lizard
AKA: Blue-tongue skink
Origin: A variety of deserts, tropical forests and mountainous areas
Aussies love blue-tongue lizards, all six species of them. They’re easy to care for, have personality and intelligence, and a unique appearance. Once again, they’re kid-friendly, but you’ll need to check with your local wildlife authority to make sure it’s okay to have one in your garden. They have been known to live up to 20 years in captivity.
Name: Hermit crab
AKA: Crazy crabs
Origin: Warmer climates globally, generally near the coast
Rather like a snail with long claws, hermit crabs are land animals that change shells, using them as portable homes. Not only are these little critters easy to buy — you can find them in pet stores and even buy shells painted in the colours of your favourite footy team — they’re also child-friendly and great for apartment dwellers.
Name: Stick insect
AKA: Walking sticks
Origin: Warmer climates globally
Some might find them creepy, but stick insects are a popular pet, with 150 different species in Australia and almost 3000 species in existence worldwide. They’re easily purchased — you can even order them online. You’ll need a supply of eucalyptus leaves and a decent-sized cage or aquarium because they’re good at camouflage and may escape.