A collection of 49 live lizards was found in the luggage of a 28-year-old German man as he tried to get them through customs at Munich Airport, said officials on Wednesday.
The passenger had elected to take his luggage, which included 31 spiny-tailed lizards and 18 other species of reptile, through the green channel at customs after completing a flight from Oman to Germany, according to Agence France Presse.
International customs procedures require travelers to pass through one of two channels depending on what they're carrying. The green channel is for passengers with no goods to declare; those travelers are subject to spot checks but usually pass through security more quickly. The red channel is for passengers carrying restricted items, which must be declared.
A box full of lizards is certainly red channel-worthy, but apparently this passenger didn't think so. His reasoning: These reptiles were foodstuffs. The plan was not to keep them in captivity, he said, but to eat them.
To prove this claim, the passenger made an unusual offer.
[He] wanted to bite the head off one of the spiny-tailed lizards in front of the customs official, said German Customs Spokesman Thomas Meister.
Faced with the prospect of witnessing a grown man kill a lizard with his teeth, the customs official balked. Instead, the lizards were impounded at the Munich Airport.
The lizards had been packed inside of a cardboard box, which was stuffed with towels in place to keep the animals from being knocked around in flight.
It's unlikely the lizards were happy traveling in a dark suitcase. Spiny-tailed lizards need sunlight in order to digest nutrients properly; those kept in captivity are typically supplied with artificial UVB/UVA lights to promote calcium absorption.
Still, the 49 reptiles made the cross-continental journey from Oman to Germany. And they should be glad they were busted; instead of turning into a meal, they're now eing properly attended to.
The animals are now being house din the proper conditions and are in the rudest of health, said officials.
The man will likely be fined at least 1,000 euros for his transgression.