A stowaway lizard travelled more than 2,000 miles from Cyprus to High Wycombe in a holidaymaker’s suitcase.

The lizard had somehow managed to make its way inside a suitcase – with the stunned traveller only discovering it once they had returned home on June 24.

The exotic reptile has been rescued by RSPCA animal collection officer Rachel Edwards and taken to a specialist.

As the animals are not native to the UK it would be an offence under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 to release them, or to allow them to escape into the wild.

It is also unlikely that they would ever be able to return to their natural environments – so they are often rehomed to specialist keepers, zoos or wildlife parks to be cared for.

RSPCA’s head of wildlife Adam Grogan is warning holidaymakers to check for any stowaways before they travel back home.

He said: “Whilst local delicacies and souvenirs may be part of a successful holiday abroad, sometimes people return home with something they didn’t quite expect.

“The RSPCA often receives reports during the summer of exotic creatures that have accidentally been imported in people’s luggage.

“Our message to holidaymakers at this time of year 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.

“Don’t leave your bags open on the floor overnight as this also provides an opportunity for animals to stow away.”

The lizard is the latest in a long line of exotic animals rescued by the RSPCA this year.

A South African frog was brought 8,000 miles from South Africa to Nottinghamshire in January, an olive thick tail scorpion travelled from South Africa to Kent in April and a 20cm-long Balkan green lizard went from Kos to Bridgend in June.

If you have concerns for the welfare of an animal, contact the RSPCA’s 24-hour cruelty line on 0300 1234 999.