A vet was forced to put down an exotic lizard after discovering it had swallowed a number of items, including Lego bricks and watch batteries.
Bruce, a one-year-old Argentine Tegu, had been taken by Small Scales Reptile Rescue, a charity specialising in caring for and re-homing unwanted reptiles, more than two months ago but was euthanised on Saturday after vets found various foreign objects in his stomach.
The 3ft lizard was found to have Lego bricks, coins, watch batteries and a draughts piece in its stomach.
The vets who examined him believe the watch batteries had been slowly poisoning Bruce, as well as blocking his digestive system.
Bruce arrived with the charity after he was given away by a family who claimed they could no longer afford to care for him due to his large size and appetite.
The lizard, who was only a year old when he was put down, had the potential to reach more than 4.5ft in length and 8lb in weight.
Elizabeth Gardener, a Small Scales Reptile Rescue trustee, said the charity had been left devastated by the creature’s death.
She said: “Bruce was very gentle in everything he did.
“Tegus are one of the only reptile species which bond and build trust with their owners, and he was no different.
“When he passed, that hit us. It was a bad one. We really never expected it.”
The charity believe that Bruce’s former owners were aware that he had swallowed the foreign objects and failed to let them know.
Elizabeth said: “I wish they had told us beforehand.
“We would have still taken him, but if we’d been told before that he’d eaten those objects we could have removed them through surgery and he might still be here today.”
The volunteer also urged people to know what they’re getting into when buying exotic pets.
She added: “People need to research. Tegus like Bruce need a lot of specific care and attention, as well as lots of space since they get so big.
“They’ve got really long life spans and people don’t know that. They buy them as a novelty without realising that they can live 20 or 30 years.
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“A lot of people would never treat a cat or a dog they way they treat a lizard or a snake.
“People need to research the animal they want to get. Don’t buy anything thinking that it’s going to be easy and won’t take a lot of time.”
The charity is now raising money to pay for the £123 worth of vet bills that looking after Bruce racked up.
The group has created a fundraising page in order to pay the bill, which can be accessed through their Small Scales Reptile Rescue Facebook page.