An appeal has been launched to find the owner of an "overweight" gecko abandoned near some bins in Romford.

The gecko was found on September 18 in a small wooden vivarium near communal bins in Raven Close, Romford, by someone who contacted the RSPCA.

Suzi Fothergill, RSPCA Animal Rescue Officer, collected the leopard gecko and took it to a wildlife hospital.

The gecko was alert and appeared healthy apart from being slightly overweight, the RSPCA said.

Suzi said: “It’s really sad that this poor gecko was just left near some bins and thrown out like a piece of rubbish.

"No matter what someone’s situation, abandoning an animal like this is never the answer - there is no guarantee they will be found in time.

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“I am keen to find who may have owned this gecko and I would urge anyone who has any information to contact me on the RSPCA inspectorate appeal line 0300 123 8018 quoting incident 115518.”

Leopard geckos, like other reptiles, have specific needs including controlled temperature, lighting and humidity and specific dietary requirements, the RSPCA said.

The RSPCA urges people to properly research what is required in the care of their pet before taking them on.

Suzi added: “We are finding that many people are unaware of how much of a commitment these animals are when they take them on, which we believe may be why we are rescuing hundreds of reptiles every year.

“Reptiles may look resilient and tough on the outside but they are actually completely reliant on their owners to provide the correct environment for the species, including heating and lighting, and an appropriate diet - which are essential to keep them healthy and allow them to carry out their natural behaviour. 

“Without proper care they can suffer from serious diseases and, in severe cases or if left untreated, they can die.

"It is not always easy for an owner to tell when they are ill, fearful or suffering and by the time they are taken to a vet, if at all, it can be too late.”

You can access information on how to care for leopard geckos here.