Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Lizard survives 3,000 miles in suitcase and 30 minutes in washing machine

A hardy lizard that stowed away in a tourist's suitcase survived a 3,000-mile flight from Cape Verde to the UK – and then endured a full cycle in a washing machine.
The lizard, which has been named Larry, is thought to have clambered into Sue Banwell-Moore's suitcase as she packed following a two-week holiday on the islands off the west coast of Africa.
Larry survived the six-hour flight in the luggage hold of a passenger jet and arrived back at Banwell-Moore's home in Somerset.
But its ordeal did not end there. Banwell-Moore scooped up the hapless reptile in a pile of dirty clothes and stuffed it into her washing machine.
She only spotted the lizard as she was hanging out the washing following the 30-minute delicates cycle.
Assuming the 15cm-long (6ins) animal was dead, she covered it with a saucepan but was surprised and delighted when it recovered from its ordeal. Larry is now being cared for at a wildlife park.
Banwell-Moore said: "I was hanging out the washing on the clothes dryer and I looked down and there was this lizard there. I thought he was dead and I'm sure he nearly was – I have absolutely no idea how he was still alive.
"I called my daughter and she was screaming with laughter while I was screaming with shock. I made sure the heating was on overnight so I could keep him warm and he survived. It must have got into my suitcase on the last day and the funny thing was I only saw one lizard when I was out there.
Larry has now made the rather less ambitious 25-mile journey to the Tropiquaria wildlife park in Williton, Somerset. Banwell-Moore added: "I realised what the poor thing had been through and I sort of fell in love with it. I keep ringing Tropiquaria and he seems to be doing OK – it is a miraculous survival."
Chris Moiser, the director of Tropiquaria, is still trying to identify Larry. "It is very rare – Cape Verde is one of those places with native species found nowhere else in the world, it is so remote. We have it down to one of two species of chioninia but to tell the difference between these we need to carefully count some of the small facial scales, which is rather difficult on a relatively small lizard which moves at speed."

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