While it's common for travellers to pack a memento or two in their luggage after a trip abroad, one Sydney family says they returned home with an entirely unintentional souvenir.
Sophie D'Hyon said she was quite surprised when a "little baby gecko" suddenly appeared in their Sutherland Shire home last week — just one day after her family unpacked from a holiday in Fiji.
"I'm now convinced he was a stowaway in our bag as he appeared near where I put our luggage away," the mum posted on social media, alongside a photo of the tiny creature sitting on her hand and what appears to be a kitchen bench.
"I've never seen on here anywhere in the Shire before only in Queensland [and] Fiji. We saw a lot in and around our room over there."
Ms D'Hyon said she initially placed the gecko on an indoor plant, but a week later he had returned to their bench. Despite her son's plea to keep it as a pet and call it 'Bula' — a common greeting in the island nation — the mum asked other locals what she should do with her discovery.
When contacted by Yahoo News Australia, Ms D'Hyon said it "seems likely" their new friend was a stowaway in their "carry on luggage". "Australian bio security emailed me to say it did not look like any local or native Gecko species," she said.
'Stowaway' identified by expert
Despite the resident being "convinced" the reptile came from overseas, the specific species seen in the images already exists in Australia and could have simply crawled into the property from outside.
"It's an Indo-Pacific gecko ... they were incidentally introduced in 2018," NSW reptile rescuer Sam Chatfield told Yahoo.
Although small in size, the gecko could pose a large risk if it did indeed travel from Fiji and is carrying a disease, with Sam highlighting the importance of notifying authorities right away so native wildlife are not threatened or outcompeted.
"If there's enough of them that's the path they're going to go down, they're just going to outbreed our endemic species," she warned.
'Very important these sightings are reported'
Reporting an "unusual animal sighting" enables authorities to either properly dispose of the animal or safely contain it to mitigate biosecurity risks.
"Some of them we deliver to a vet who humanly euthanise it and then a courier is sent to pick it up," Sam said. "Others ones they are taken alive and they go into research programs.
“It is very important these sightings are reported."
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