Airport staff were stunned when they discovered a rare lizard scurrying around the baggage terminal.
The juvenile monitor lizard, known as Varanus Bengalensis, which was found by staff in the of Terminal 4’s baggage sorting area last week at Heathrow Airport.
Border force officials say the lizard, about 12 inches long, is believed to be a Bengal variety, but it is not known where the reptile’s journey started.
Officers from the Border Force Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) were able to catch the animal who believe it may have been brought into the UK illegally.
Higher Officer Jan Sowa, from the CITES team said: “Baggage handler staff were probably quite amused when they saw this lizard on the loose, but this could easily have ended tragically.
“We don’t know for sure, but we think the reptile may have been placed in luggage in an attempt to bring it into the UK illegally.
“This must have caused it considerable distress so it’s a miracle it did not die from shock, the cold or being run over.
“Border Force’s specialist CITES team takes its role in preventing illegal wildlife trafficking very seriously and, working together with our partners in the UK and internationally, we are determined to bring it to an end.”
The reptile is being housed at a specialist centre near Heathrow Airport while experts try to find it a suitable home.
Monitor lizards take several years to reach adult size, but once fully grown they can be up to six and a half feet long.