A GIANT lizard, dumped and left to freeze to death by the side of the road, was rescued after being spotted by an astonished council worker.
Steve O’Hara could barely believe his eyes when he spotted the iguna – 5ft long from nose to tail – in the Scottish Borders.
The poor creature was too cold to move but Steve saved the iguana’s life by placing it inside his warm van and then calling animal rescuers.
The 56-year-old handyman was enjoying lunch by the side of the road between Romanno Bridge and Blyth Bridge, Peeblesshire, when he looked up and got the shock of his life.
Just six feet away, perched on a dry stone wall, was the reptile, struggling to stay alive in temperatures only just into double figures when they should normally be experiencing between 26C to 35C.
The Scottish SPCA have given the iguana shelter and renamed him “Iggy”.
Steve said: “I pulled into the same lay-by that I pull into every Tuesday to have my lunch. It’s very rural and in the middle of nowhere. I looked up and about six to eight feet away there was a big lizard staring back at me.
“I recognised it but it took about ten seconds for my brain to register. My son had a bearded dragon when he was younger and I’m obsessed with David Attenborough so I knew what it was, but I was just surprised to see it there.”
He added: “So I went to my van and got a box. A few things struck me – the coldness and rigidity of it and also the weight of it was striking, but I got it into the van and put the heating on full blast.
“After about 20 minutes it began to get a bit perky and by the time I took it out of the box it was snappy and snarly.
“They are not the most tactile but they are absolutely fantastic, stunning animals.
Everybody I showed it to said they wouldn’t have it as a pet but that they are beautiful.”
Steve took Iggy to Broughton Primary School where the SSPCA took over.
Animal Rescue Officer Dawn-Vale Lowdon said: “Despite having a few bumps he was alright once he had been warmed up. He’s now being cared for at our centre in Lanarkshire.
“If no-one comes forward for him we’ll keep him in our care until we can find him a suitable forever home.”
Steve believes Iggy was “unquestionably dumped” as there no houses within miles of the spot where it was found.
He said: “What a horrible, horrible way to dispose of a pet. It’s cold blooded so you know it’s not going to last long in the Scottish climate. I know no way of abandoning a pet is nice but this was a really nasty, cruel way of doing it.
“After investing time and money into a pet, I wouldn’t just dump it like that. And there will be a network online for these sorts of animals where something could have been sorted, so why just dump it?”
Steve also revealed just how lucky Iggy was to have been found at all.
“I could’ve stopped ten metres further along and not noticed it but I just happened to stop in that exact spot,” he said.
“I stopped earlier than usual. If I had been the usual 45 minutes later he might not have made it that long.”