A woman returning to Foster City from a vacation in Cancun, Mexico received a surprise when she unpacked her suitcase. A baby spiny-tailed Iguana had accidentally stowed away in her bikini top. She immediately brought the animal to the Peninsula Humane Society & SPCA (PHS/SCPA). The incident occurred on August 5.
“She had put her bathing suit out to dry on the balcony of her hotel room, and the next morning, packed up her belongings in her suitcase,” said PHS/SPCA Communications Manager Buffy Martin Tarbox. “Unbeknownst to her, a baby iguana had decided to nest in her bathing suit and accidentally hitch hiked to California.”
Spiny-tailed iguanas are native to Mexico and Central America. They are not a threatened species and are a common sight in Mexico. Spiny-tailed iguanas range in size from 10 inches to five feet. They live on average between 15-25 years.
“Since it was a wild animal who self-imported to California, we reached out to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife and the USDA to determine the best course of action with this iguana,” according to Tarbox. “We were advised that no mandatory quarantine was necessary and he didn’t need to be returned to Mexico. After treating him for dehydration, he was transported to an animal sanctuary which specializes in such reptiles by the woman who found him.”
It’s common for animals to accidentally stow away in camping gear and clothing. PHS/SPCA recommends carefully shaking out gear and clothing before packing to avoid inadvertently transporting animals from their native areas.