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16 September 2011, 10:30
An exotic lizard is settling into a new home at Portsmouth’s Blue Reef Aquarium after apparently stowing away in a holidaymaker’s trouser pocket.
The tiny Moorish gecko, which is around 4cm long, was discovered by a family from Portsmouth in their luggage after they got back from a holiday in Almeria, Spain.
The reptile survived a two-and-a-half hour flight and spending nearly 24 hours in the suitcase before he was discovered.
“We opened up the case and this little lizard scuttled out and ran into a thick floor rug,” said Russell Lucas who had been on the holiday with his grandchildren.
"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 Aquarium,” he added.
The aquarium’s aquarists work with a variety of reptile species and were able to look after him.
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,” he added.
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 long and they are a common sight on walls and in urban environments throughout the warmer, coastal towns and cities of Spain.
Mainly nocturnal, the lizards hunt insects; often making use of streetlamps to catch their prey which has been attracted to the light. Normally brown or grey in colour, the geckos change colour according to the intensity of light.