Shocked driver finds large exotic lizard in car engine in Plymouth

A tegu lizard discovered in the engine of a car in Plymouth. Credit: RSPCA
Credit: RSPCA

A driver in Plymouth was shocked to discover a large exotic lizard hiding in the engine of their car.

They called the RSPCA after spotting the animal and the charity was expecting to find a small pet.

So they were surprised to find it was a tegu, a lizard which can grow up to four feet long.

RSPCA Inspector Jo Pearson carried out the rescue.

She said: “The caller had described seeing a lizard sitting on the top of the car wheel arch when he left his house. 

“Expecting to find a small commonly kept lizard in what sounded like a relatively easy collection, the rescue turned into a bit of a drama when I arrived to find a very large tegu actually inside the caller’s engine bay.

“The lizard was not very happy about trying to be caught and kept manoeuvring under the engine and up under the wheel arch where it was inaccessible to be reached. 

“Perseverance paid off and after around two hours of waiting, prodding and trying to get the lizard into a position where he could be reached, I seized my opportunity and managed to get a grip on the body to remove the lizard out of the tiny gap.”

The tegu is now being cared for by the RSPCA Credit: RSPCA

The tegu is currently in boarding as the charity tries to locate an owner. Anyone who can prove ownership can contact the RSPCA.

Jo added: “Unfortunately, we don’t know where this lizard came from. Many people buy exotic pets like reptiles without researching their needs or having any idea of the commitment involved. Ultimately it is the animal that suffers after people realise they’re not easy to care for, or the novelty wears off. Animals may become aggressive, grow very large like this tegu, live for a long time or require a licence or paperwork to be legally kept or sold.

“Thankfully on this occasion the tegu was not in bad health, but this is not always the case as the needs of these animals are the same as they would be in the wild and aren’t always easy to replicate in a home environment. They can suffer, become sick or even die, if not provided with the correct environment or diet. We hope that the animal is just lost and that it wasn’t abandoned; it is not acceptable to abandon an animal in any way.”

“Reptiles can be extremely good escape artists, so we would always recommend owners invest in an enclosure suitable for the particular species and that the enclosure is kept secure (and locked if necessary) when unattended. It is good for reptiles to be allowed the opportunity for natural sunlight, however we would urge owners to ensure that their reptile is kept secure when doing so, as reptiles can warm up and become very quick to move on a sunny day."