Shocked RSPCA staff raided an Ilkeston house to save a menagerie of creatures - including two dogs, two terrapins and a lizard called Charlie.
The discovery has led to a jobless couple being banned for life from keeping pets, being given suspended jail terms and orders to pay £1,000 costs.
Derby Magistrates’ Court heard the animal charity was told of pets living in poor conditions in a house on John Street, Ilkeston.
Inspector Sarah Gardner noted “an overwhelming stench” and saw two adult terriers, each in a puppy crate. Neither had food or water and the bedding was “sodden newspaper.”
The terrapins were in a tank full of muddy water, the court heard on Monday this week.
Several cats were also living in the house which was occupied by Gary Anderson and Katy Bagnall.
The pair were given a series of instructions on keeping pets and made an appointment with a vet - but nothing was done to improve the care, said John Sutcliffe, prosecuting.
And when the inspector returned a fortnight later on January 14, the pair had got another pet, a bearded dragon which needed to live under an ultra violet lamp to help absorb vital vitamins.
By that time, the home’s electricity supply had been cut off, although there was a bulb fitted in the vivarium.
The bearded dragon appeared to be dead but was revived and found to be suffering from stress and hypothermia, said Mr Sutcliffe.
All the pets made a good recovery and have been rehomed. The dogs - Tia and Rio - were underweight but quickly regained full health.
Mr Sutcliffe added: “They returned to normal, simply by receiving proper care and adequate diet.”
Vets said the dogs had suffered for at least four weeks and would have died within days if the RSPCA had not intervened.
Prison terms of 18 weeks, suspended for a year, were imposed on Anderson, 27, and Bagnall, 28, now both of Crewe Street, Derby.
They admitted causing unnecessary suffering to animals and failing to provide proper care.
Anderson was ordered to do 200 hours unpaid work and both were put on probation for a year. They must each pay £500 prosecution costs at £5 a week.
Wayne Hardy, mitigating, said the couple turned to keeping pets after suffering family losses. They had never been in trouble before and feared jail.
He told the court: “While this is a very emotive subject, I would ask whether it would be right to impose a sentence of immediate custody.
“We have two vulnerable people here. They have difficulty looking after themselves, never mind looking after a menagerie of animals.
“They have limited understanding and limited means. It was extremely difficult for them in the circumstances. This was not a case of deliberately causing unnecessary suffering,” added Mr Hardy.
Sitting in Derby, presiding magistrate Katherine Heap said the pair could be jailed if they commit another offence. “The suffering was due to unsuitable conditions and long-term neglect,” she added after studying photographs and probation reports.