A stowaway Balkan Green Lizard from the Island of Kos made an unexpected visit to Wales after finding his way into a holidaymaker's suitcase.
RSPCA Cymru was alerted after holidaymakers from Bridgend returned to their Laleston home to find the lizard in their suitcase.
The discovery was made on Thursday, June 6.
The green lizard, approximately 20 centimetres in length, had shed his tail – a common defence mechanism for the species. However, otherwise, he is in good condition despite the 2,383-mile trip from the Greek island to the less-sunny South Walian town.
RSPCA officers have transferred the lizard to a specialist reptile centre in Pembrokeshire - Silent World - for boarding and care.
Temperatures in Kos were soaring at 79°F or 26°C when the lizard left Kos - compared to highs of 59°F or 15°C in Bridgend the following day.
Balkan Green lizards are commonly found in Greece, and are well known for their striking green colour. They are not dangerous.
RSPCA inspector Nic de Celis said: “After a relaxing break in Kos, the last thing returning holidaymakers would have expected to find amid their belongings was this stunning Balkan green lizard.
“We're really grateful to the callers who contacted us, and safely confined the lizard in their utility room before we came and made the rescue.
“As a stowaway in a suitcase from Kos to Bridgend for many hours, and with temperatures falling from a high of 79°F or 26°C to 59°F or 15°C, this was some ordeal for the reptile.
“Fortunately, this lizard is now at a specialist centre in Pembrokeshire for boarding and care and is doing well. It is anticipated to lizard will now live there, in safe and appropriate conditions.”
Russ and Ginny Spenceley, who run Silent World in Pembrokeshire added: “Fortunately, this lizard is doing well. He’s quite friendly, went straight into a vivarium with us and is eating locusts directly from our hands
“We’ve done a lot of work with the RSPCA previously, and this lizard will join our other exotic species kept at our specialist facilities.
“We look forward to providing a good home for this lizard, who will support our educational work in the future, raising awareness of reptile wildlife.”
The RSPCA receives a lot of calls from people who have found spiders, lizards and other exotic animals that have stowed away in deliveries or in suitcases.
While the RSPCA is concerned for the welfare of these animals, as they’re not native to this country and may well have faced an extremely long and arduous journey, they would always advise people to treat any unidentified animal with caution until identified accurately and not to try to handle an animal that has been discovered as accidentally imported.
The RSPCA would like to remind holidaymakers to always give their cases an extra thorough check before heading home just in case they too pick up a surprising stowaway.
To support RSPCA Cymru complete rescues such as this, you can donate online.