A woman returning to the Bay Area from a trip to Mexico in early August came back with more than just memories of her trip.
She unpacked her suitcase and found that a baby spiny-tailed iguana had accidentally wriggled his way into her bikini top and made the international trip to Foster City, according to the Peninsula Humane Society and SPCA (PHS/SPCA).
After placing her bathing suit on the balcony of her hotel room to dry, the woman scooped up her bikini and packed it away in her suitcase, PHS/SPCA Communications Manager Buffy Martin Tarbox said in a statement.
What she didn't immediately realize was that the iguana decided to make a temporary home in her bathing suit top and tag along for the ride in her suitcase.
The woman immediately transported the iguana to the PHS/SPCA after finding the reptile in her suitcase, according to the shelter.
Animal officials reached out to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife and the United States Department of Agriculture to figure out what to do with the iguana, according to Tarbox. It was determined that the animal didn't need to be quarantined or shipped back to Mexico. He was treated for dehydration and later taken to an animal sanctuary that specializes in reptiles.
While surprising in nature, the stowaway story isn't something off the beaten path. It is common for animals to accidentally get wrapped up in clothing, gear or other travel items and taken away from their native areas, according to the PHS/SPCA.
As for the baby iguana, his species is native to Mexico and Central America — places where they are frequently seen, according to the PHS/SPCA. Spiny-tailed iguanas, which typically live for 15 to 25 years, can be anywhere in length from 10 inches to five feet.