Gecko lizard ends up in Sunderland after travelling 5000 MILES in man's suitcase after flight home from Mexico

A Sunderland traveller has unknowingly travelled 5000 miles home from Mexico with a gecko in their luggage, leading to a warning from the RSPCA.

Monday, 11th July 2022, 4:22 pm

The man travelled back to Houghton and found the gecko when he was unpacking his suitcase, with the lizard having likely crawled into the case while he was packing.

Following the incident, the RSPCA is urging holiday makers to check their luggage carefully before flying back to the UK in a bid to reduce the number of exotic stowaways which need rescuing.

RSPCA Scientific Officer Evie Button said: “This is a timely reminder to anyone who is jetting off for their summer holidays to thoroughly check their luggage when packing to return home. Once packed, keep your bags zipped up. Don’t leave your bags open on the floor overnight as this also provides an opportunity for animals to hide away.. These little stowaways can easily be concealed amongst your clothes in a suitcase and once they’ve arrived in the UK, sadly, they cannot be returned to their country of origin.

The gecko which travelled 5000 miles from Mexico to Sunderland

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“As highlighted in our Cancel Out Cruelty campaign, the RSPCA receives around 90,000 calls to its emergency line every month but in the summer calls rise to 134,000 a month and our officers are flat out trying to prioritise animals affected by cruelty and neglect.

Last year, the RSPCA received 70 reports of accidental ‘stowaways’ in the luggage of people who had just come back from holiday.

Evie added: “We 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.

“We are incredibly busy over the summer months so if anyone does find a stowaway as they are unpacking it would really help us if they contacted their nearest zoo or exotic pet shop in the first instance - so our frontline officers can prioritise rescuing animals from cruelty and neglect.”

Stowaways from abroad may have specific needs including controlled temperature, lighting and humidity, meaning they would be unlikely to survive UK temperatures and it would be an offence under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 to release them, or to allow them to escape into the wild.