AN ESCAPED chameleon mistaken for a toy has been safely returned to his owner in Rhyl.

The rainbow-coloured panther chameleon was picked up by the RSCPA off a camellia plant in the garden of a property in Weaver Avenue in the town in August.

A member of the public had initially mistaken the chameleon for a toy, and only realised what they had found when the animal closed one eye – appearing to wink.

He was transferred to specialist facilities in Herefordshire for care – before ihis owner, Stuart Thorn, who lives a few doors from where the chameleon was found, came forward and took him home.

Stuart, who has now christened his errant pet Houdini, said: “I was quite shocked to see my chameleon all over the paper.

"In the hot weather, the windows had been open more to keep him cool – and he managed to escape and get out on to the streets of Rhyl.

"I’ll be making sure it stays closed from now on.

“It’s great to have him home. I’m very grateful to the RSPCA and everyone who responded to their appeal.”

Chameleons are tricky species to care for properly and show very little outward signs of illness.

RSPCA Cymru encourages anyone thinking of taking on an exotic pet to thoroughly research the animal’s needs and only consider keeping if they are sure they can fully meet their requirements.

Will Galvin, the RSPCA animal collection officer who returned Houdini to Rhyl, said: “We love happy endings – and it was great to be able to return this chameleon home.

"This story certainly captured the imagination of many across North Wales and beyond.

“The adventures of this chameleon are an important reminder as to the benefits of microchipping animals; and a reminder that exotic pets can often escape.

"Indeed, escaped exotics are an issue frontline RSPCA officers deal with all the time."