A FAMILY received slithery surprise after realising a lizard had made its way into their suitcase and travelled home with them from their Caribbean holiday.

The stowaway reptile, which had travelled more than 4,000 miles from the Caribbean to the family home in Wickford has been rescued by the RSPCA.

The lizard, which is no more than two inches long, was discovered in a suitcase when the family returned to their home from St Lucia on January 23.

When they started to unpack their clothes, the reptile jumped out and ran across their floor.

Luckily, they spotted the creature and called the RSPCA.

RSPCA’s animal collection officer Joe White, who rescued the small stowaway, said: “I think they were quite shocked to see this exotic lizard jump out of their suitcase.

“Thankfully, they were able to catch him and give us a call.

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

The officer added: “I took him to be monitored by an exotic creature rescue centre and he has now been rehomed.”

The lizard is believed to be an anole lizard, which is a species from the Caribbean Lesser Antilles.

Every week, the RSPCA receives reports of exotic creatures - including scorpions, lizards and frogs - that have accidentally been imported in people’s luggage.

The charity’s message to holidaymakers is to take care when packing to make sure there aren’t any unwelcome travel companions stowing away in clothes, shoes, towels or bags, and once packed, keep your bags zipped up.

ACO White added: “It’s really important that people thoroughly check their luggage before they leave their holiday destinations.

“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.”

As this reptile is not native to the UK it would be an offence under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 to release, or to allow the lizard to escape into the wild.

However, specialist homes can be found and this lucky lizard was rehomed by the exotics rescue and rehoming centre.