Shipment company

Gecko rescued three months after traveling 4,800 miles from China in a shipment of musical instruments

Photo: RSPCA

A stowaway gecko has been found at a musical instrument import business in Maidstone, Kent, after traveling 4,800 miles from China.

The gecko, nicknamed Thin Lizard by RSPCA staff, survived for three months in a musical instrument box.

After they were discovered by import staff on January 24, they called the RSPCA for help, and rescuer Clive Hopwood fetched the tiny lizard, which is 10cm long.

Clive said: ‘Staff were unpacking a box when the little gecko ran away. The box was part of a shipment that had traveled from China in a sealed shipping container in October, but the box was not unpacked until three months later.

“It’s unbelievable that this little gecko survived such a long journey and locked up in the sealed package for so long, but they managed to confine it and then called us for help. I brought Thin Lizard to our experts at Brighton Reptile Rescue who have identified it as an Asian house gecko and will find it a specialized home.

Geckos, like other reptiles, require a specific, species-appropriate temperature gradient because they are ectothermic, meaning they depend on their surroundings to heat up or cool down as needed. This gecko has been lucky enough to survive for so long – especially in the winter months – without specialized equipment to regulate the temperature.

The RSPCA is often called by businesses after staff find snakes, lizards and frogs in shipments of fruit, flowers and car parts.

The association is also regularly approached by vacationers who have returned from tropical destinations to find a stowaway in their luggage, such as crabs and geckos!

Anyone who finds a non-native animal or an animal which they believe has been hidden in another country should contact the RSPCA for advice on 0300 1234 999. These creatures should not be released as they are not native and could cause damage our native fauna. They are also unlikely to survive in our weather conditions.

The RSPCA also hopes the gecko’s remarkable journey will remind holidaymakers to always check their bags thoroughly before heading home, in case they too pick up a surprise stowaway.

To help the RSPCA continue to rescue, rehabilitate and rehome animals in desperate need of care this winter, you can Join the rescue by donating online or calling their donation line on 0300 123 8181.

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