Larry the Lizard found himself on a death defying adventure after trying to get cosy in the laundry of holiday maker Sue Banwell-Moore.
Sue was at the end of a two week holiday on Cape Verde, an island country just off the west coast of Africa, when she decided her washing could wait til she was home. The bag was packed and unaware of her little companion she checked in her luggage and boarded her plane as usual.
However comfortable her flight was, little Larry was held in the freezing cold baggage compartment, possibly surviving by snuggling up in jumpers and bras for warmth.
After a 3000 mile airborne journey that lasted six hours eventually Sue and Larry ended up at her home in Churchinford, Somerset.
Larrys troubles were not over yet though. On the following day, the time came to wash the laundry.
Sue bundled up the clothes, not realising the little fellow was in there and shoved them into her washing machine.
Fortunately for Larry it was only a delicate half hour cycle so it wasn’t long before Sue returned to put her clothes on the line. She finally found him and he was spared the further humiliation of being hung out to dry with the rest of the laundry.
“I phoned my daughter and said ‘I’ve got a lizard on my floor’, and I was screaming and she was just screaming but with laughter.”
”I touched it and it didn’t move – it was very cold – and I thought maybe it was dead.”
The 15cm reptile was taken on a further 25 mile journey to the Tropiquaria wildlife park in Williton, Somerset.
Though Larry has been recognised as a chioninia lizard, Chris Moiser, the director of Tropiquaria, is trying to identify his specific species.
“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.”
Staff at the park are worried that Larry may have inhaled some washing powder detergent, which could affect his lungs and cause pneumonia but they say he is doing well and is “almost out of the danger-zone”.
Sue is keeping in touch with her little friend as often as possible after his ordeal.
“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.”
By Lewis Roe