Jan. 23 (UPI) -- Authorities in Britain said an exotic monitor lizard was captured after being found wandering freely in the baggage sorting area of London's Heathrow Airport.
The Border Force Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species, or CITIES, said a team was summoned Wednesday to the baggage sorting area of Terminal 4 at the airport when staff members discovered the lizard scurrying around in the staff-only area.
The team captured the reptile, believed to be a Bengal monitor lizard, and took it to a nearby specialist, where it will be cared for until a permanent home can be found.
"Baggage handler staff were probably quite amused when they saw this lizard on the loose, but this could easily have ended tragically," CITES team Higher Officer Jan Sowa said. "We don't know for sure, but we think the reptile may have been placed in luggage in an attempt to bring it into the U.K. illegally. This must have caused it considerable distress so it's a miracle it did not die from shock, the cold or being run over."
The foot-long lizard is believed to be a juvenile. Officials said adult monitor lizards can grow to up to 6 1/2 feet in length.