FORGET cats and dogs – when it comes to a recession snakes and lizards are our favourite value-for-money pets.

Steve Birchall, of Cheshire Waterlife based at Blakemere Craft Centre, near Northwich, said leopard geckos, crested anoles, chameleons, the Madagascan day gecko, beaded dragons and snakes of all kinds have been flying off the centre’s shelves – so to speak – since the credit crunch took hold.

He explained: “These really are low-maintenance pets that don’t cost a fortune to look after.

“They are also regarded as uber-cool pets to have, especially by the younger animal lovers who visit us for supplies.”

Lauren Heath, 20, a trainee chef from Delamere, is a committed lover of snakes and lizards.

She said: “They are beautiful and proud and really interesting. They have personalities and certainly keep you company.

“The fact that they don’t cost a fortune in upkeep is a bonus especially when times are tight.”

Lauren was introduced to the world of lizards and snakes by boyfriend Craig Acton, 22, of Winsford, who worked at Cheshire Waterlife part time.

Craig said: “Loads of young people are keeping lizards and snakes as pets because they see them as different and cool.

“But there has certainly been loads of interest since the economy started to slow down.”

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