UK

Rare Iguanas Seized At Heathrow

04/02/2014 17:11 GMT | Updated 04/02/2014 17:59 GMT

Thirteen "incredibly rare" iguanas that had been stuffed into socks by smugglers have been seized by a customs team at Heathrow Airport.

The endangered lizards were found in a suitcase yesterday at Terminal Five of the London airport when officers stopped two Romanian women who had arrived from the Bahamas.

They were due to take the San Salvador rock iguanas - which are native to the Bahamas and classed as being under threat of extinction - on to Dusseldorf in Germany.

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One of thirteen endangered iguanas that have been seized by Border Force officers at Heathrow

Each one of the creatures was wrapped in a sock, and 12 survived the journey while one died.

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Grant Miller, from the Border Force's endangered species team said: "This particular species of iguana is incredibly rare - only a few hundred are believed to be left in existence - so this was a remarkable and very important seizure.

iguana

The animals were discovered inside an item of luggage by officers carrying out customs checks at the airport

"Given the circumstances we found them in it seems incredible that all but one survived such a long flight.

"The surviving animals were dehydrated and are now under the supervision of a specialist vet. We are also working with experts to find the best way to protect and safeguard these endangered creatures longer term."

The two women, aged 24 and 26, were arrested on suspicion of importation offences.