A High Peak holidaymaker had a shock when they returned home from Thailand - to find a stowaway lizard in their suitcase.
The six-inch lizard, which is a protected species in Thailand, had burrowed inside a suitcase of diving equipment, which was then transported 6,000 miles across the world.
RSPCA Animal Welfare Officer Steve Wickham collected the lizard from the holidaymakers' home in Chapel-en-le-Frith, and took it to a specialist reptile centre, where it was identified as a clouded monitor lizard which can grow up to 1 to 1.5 metres long.
Steve said: “Despite being zipped up in a suitcase for at least 24 hours, the monitor lizard appeared to be in good health. I took the lizard to a specialist exotics centre to be checked over by a vet and cared for, where it ate almost straight away. The long journey must have made them very hungry!”
As the lizard is a protected species in their native country and their commercial use is strictly controlled, permission will now be sought from Defra to allow the lizard to be transferred to a new home in a zoo or wildlife park.
“Thankfully the lizard will now be cared for by experts,” said Steve. “However, this is a timely reminder to people to always check your suitcase, clothes, towels and shoes properly when packing to return home from a trip abroad, as you never quite know what surprising souvenir you might bring home with you!”