Spanish lizard hitches ride to UK
An exotic lizard has been given a new home after hitching a lift to the UK in the suitcase of a holidaymaker.
Russell Lucas, from Portsmouth, Hampshire, was unpacking having just returned from Almeria, in Spain, when the tiny Moorish gecko, which measures about 4cm in length, ran from his case.
The reptile survived a two-and-a-half hour flight and nearly 24 hours in the suitcase before it was discovered.
It has now been given to the Blue Reef aquarium in Southsea, where it will be looked after.
Mr Lucas, who had been on holiday with his grandchildren Bobby Sadler, seven, and Emily Lucas, five, said: "We opened up the case and this little lizard scuttled out and ran into a thick floor rug. We immediately knew what it was as we had been watching the lizards catching insects on the wall of the house in Spain the night before.
"At first we didn't know what to do but we wanted to help it as much as we could, so in the end we got in contact with the guys at the Blue Reef aquarium."
Blue Reef's Lindsay Holloway said: "The little lizard is now being cared for in our quarantine area. He's a little too small to go out on display at the moment and we want to keep him under observation for a while longer to make sure he's OK.
"However, considering his amazing journey, which presumably included hours in an unpressurised hold whilst on board the plane, he appears to be doing extremely well. We're feeding him on a mix of insects and reptile food, and he seems to be none the worse for his epic flight."
Native to the western Mediterranean region of Europe and North Africa, the Moorish gecko is also known as the crocodile or wall gecko.
Fully-grown adults can reach up to 15cms in length and they are a common sight on walls and in urban environments throughout the warmer, coastal towns and cities of Spain.