After Lizard Hitchhiker, ARL warns against stowaway animals

Photos courtesy of Mike DeFina

HYANNIS — A Florida stowaway lizard recently prompted the Animal Rescue League of Boston to warn travelers about potential hitchhikers.

The non-native reptile was brought to ARL’s Brewster Refuge after a returning traveler discovered it in his vehicle.

The lizard was a brown anole, native to Florida but not Massachusetts, and has since been brought to a reptile rescue organization in Connecticut for rehoming, ARL said.

ARL spokesman Mike DeFina said non-native species should always be brought to animal experts, whether they are discovered among luggage after a trip or purchased as a pet and not wants more.

“We don’t come across this specific scenario often, but there are a lot of people who have lizards or snakes that aren’t native to Massachusetts or our local environment. And we see from time to time, for various reasons, if the pet owner no longer wants the pet or doesn’t really know what to do with it,” DeFina said.

Many animals released into new ecosystems from which they did not originate can become invasive species and damage the local environment.

“Unfortunately a lot of people go to the yard, local park, lake or pond and release the animal and that’s definitely not something you want to do. You always want to make sure a species not native is brought to a rescue organization,” DeFina said.

DeFina said ARL will make sure any animals brought to them find suitable homes, but residents can also take non-native animals to other shelters or contact their local animal control officer.

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