A gold coloured, fat, seemingly comatose creature that was stretched out on the shoulder of a woman in the Northern Advocate office caught our attention.

"Good gracious," we said, "Is that a lizard?"

"Don't say the 'L' word, you'll offend him," the creature's owner, Wendy Gillespie, quickly said.

"He's a bearded dragon and his name is Chubbs."

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It turns out Chubbs was in his usual daytime place, on Ms Gillespie's shoulder while she went about her daily business - and, yes, people do tend to want to chat to her about her unusual pet.

It is legal for the Australian, desert dwelling lizards (Pogona Vitticeps) to be bred and owned in New Zealand, as are other exotic animals like tortoises, turtles and birds such as parrots.

Chubbs is six years old and full-grown.

He likes to eats insects, bananas and puha.

Ms Gillespie, who lives in west Auckland but visits Whangarei regularly on business, said Chubbs has a terrarium with heat lamps for winter, although he spends much of the summer outside his glass house.

She worries about dogs or cats getting him.

He has a stump where the end of his tail should be.

Apparently, the breeder didn't realise quite how carnivorous bearded dragons could be.

The morning after Chubbs and his siblings hatched several of them were already missing bits of their bodies.

Google describes the bearded dragon as docile, yet outgoing and curious. Ms Gillespie said Chubbs doesn't quite come when she calls him, but he definitely recognises her and is more comfortable with her than with anyone else.

For the record, the scaly hide on Chubbs' back feels like a starfish and his belly feels as soft and pudgy as a fat fish.