A Foster City, Calif., woman found a surprise souvenir after returning home from a vacation in Cancun.
Peering up at her from her luggage was a live, baby spiny-tailed iguana hiding in her bikini top.
The iguana, which can grow up to 5 feet long, apparently took refuge there when the woman hung her bikini to dry on her hotel room balcony the day before she packed.
So what do you do with a tiny, green stowaway?
After getting over the initial shock, the unnamed woman brought the reptile to the Peninsula Humane Society & SPCA. Officials there then checked with state and federal regulators.
Because it was a wild animal that self-imported to California, the group contacted the California Department of Fish and Wildlife and the United States Department of Agriculture, said Buffy Martin Tarbox, the society’s communications manager.
“We were advised that no mandatory quarantine was necessary and he didn’t need to be returned to Mexico,” Tarbox told the San Jose Mercury News.
The iguana was treated for dehydration, and the woman took it to an animal sanctuary that specializes in such reptiles.
Spiny-tailed iguanas are native to the Yucatán Peninsula and Central America. They are not considered a threatened species and are a common sight in Mexico. They can range in size from 10 inches to 5 feet, and they live an average of 15 to 25 years.
It’s common for animals to accidentally stow away in camping gear and clothing, so Peninsula Humane in California recommends carefully shaking out gear and clothing before packing to avoid inadvertently transporting animals from their native areas.