Essex

Caribbean lizard found in Essex family's suitcase

Lizard Image copyright RSPCA
Image caption The two inch-long (5cm) lizard was unwittingly brought back to Essex by a family who had been on holiday in St Lucia

A stowaway lizard survived a 4,200-mile (6,759km) journey from the Caribbean in a suitcase before jumping out to surprise a family in Essex.

The two inch-long (5cm) reptile was a "little dehydrated" but otherwise fine after his lengthy trip from St Lucia to Wickford, the RSPCA said.

The animal charity was called after he was spotted trying to make a getaway as the family unpacked their luggage.

"I think they were quite shocked," said Joe White, of the RSPCA.

"Thankfully, they were able to grab him and give us a call.

"He was a little dehydrated, but otherwise his 4,200-mile journey hadn't done him any damage."

'Unwanted companions'

The tiny creature is thought to be an anole lizard and has now been rehomed.

The charity has warned holidaymakers to take care when packing to make sure they do not bring back any "unwanted companions" and keep their packed cases zipped up.

It said it received similar reports each week of exotic creatures - including scorpions and frogs - being accidentally brought into the country in suitcases.

Mr White said: "Little critters like this one can easily hide in there and it must have been quite a shock for the lizard to end up in Essex."

It is illegal to release any non-native species into the wild or allow them to escape.

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