Scaly pets are back in popularity due to COVID-19 lockdowns, according to reptile enthusiast Michael Banicek.
Since the start of the pandemic the North Coast Herpetology Group president and licensed breeder has seen an explosion of interest in keeping reptiles.
"Since the pandemic started, it's been unbelievable. We couldn't get over how many people just wanted to keep a pet," Mr Banicek said.
"These days more and more people are living in flats and units so keeping smaller animals is a seen as a wise choice.
"Maybe it's also because they're in the lockdown and have more time available but there is renewed interest in smaller reptiles.
"We have seen inquiries from all around Australia including Victoria, Queensland and Darwin. Everything is hatched here, then we put them on the flight down to Sydney and they go to destinations within four to six hours."
Each year Panthers Port Macquarie houses the North Coast Herpetology Group's Reptile Expo in March. The event last year was cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic and the event this year has been postponed until 2022.
Mr Banicek said there are many benefits in keeping small reptiles and despite some public perceptions they make excellent pets for children.
"There are many generations of captive bred animals that know nothing except where they were born. They're not snappy, so even a parent can get a license for their nine-year-old child to keep a little animal," he said.
"There's more education about reptiles in schools and by breeders these days. Respectable breeders also don't want anything to happen to their animals so there is self-regulation there.
"These days new pet owners may prefer a smaller species because electricity is fairly expensive. A smaller pet will cost you less food, less shelter, less heating but also cool quicker.
"We are finding that people read lot of stuff on the net and then fall in love with them (reptiles). Some people want bearded dragons, some people like blue tongues."
Mr Banicek said local interest in reptiles as pets was improving as Sydney residents move into the rural housing market.
"Reptile theft was the biggest problem in Sydney, owners were forced to avoid bringing anybody home to show them a collection or work together," he said.
"There were concerns that anyone visiting could come back and break in because some of the animals were worth a lot of money in the early days.
"People here do it for the love of reptiles, if you're chasing dollars look somewhere else."