If you're bored with cats and dogs as pets, a black lizard-like warty newt might be right up your street. You'll find them - and a host of other scaly critters - crawling around at the 2nd Hong Kong International Reptile Expo in Kowloon Bay. This type of warty newt, or the Echinotriton chinhaiensis to give it its proper name, is being given star billing at the expo. The precious species of newt, described as a 'living fossil' by veteran Hong Kong reptile expert K. K. Kwok , has existed for 15 million years. But there are only 100 left in the world and three, which belong to a local reptile keeper, are making their debut at the expo. 'The Echinotriton chinhaiensis are even fewer in number in the world than pandas and they are listed as a protected species by the Chinese government. They are all kept for research and breeding purposes,' Kwok said. The warty newt can live up to 18 years, but its slow evolutionary development and body movements make it difficult for it to survive and reproduce in the natural environment, he said. Lizards are another highlight of the expo, with several mutated species on show. One is a blue iguana, mutated from a green variety. Kwok said there were only about 10 of them in the world, each worth HK$60,000. Another white-skinned lizard is also a mutation of the original species and can grow up to two metres long. Kwok said keeping a reptile can be both a hobby and a business and said the mainland was emerging as a fast-growing market for reptiles. But he added: 'It still lacks a comprehensive licensing system and expertise. I expect the market to be opened in two years after the system is developed and takes effect.' Kwok said Hongkongers started keeping reptiles as pets two decades ago, and the number of reptile keepers had surged from 2,000 then to about 100,000 today. The three-day expo, organised by Unique Reptile and held at the International Trade and Exhibition Centre, starts today. More than 50 exhibitors from all over the world will be displaying around 20,000 reptiles. Kwok hopes the event will draw at least 50,000 visitors this year and educate the public about the characteristics of different types of reptiles and the proper way to raise them. Game booths will be set up where children can win reptiles such as newts, frogs and turtles to take home with them.