Animal welfare experts were called out to investigate a 12-inch lizard found in a woman’s garden – only to discover it was an ornamental otter.
The woman discovered what she thought was a reptile in her cat’s outdoor shelter in her Aberdeen garden when she went to check on him on Tuesday.
She called the Scottish SPCA, who came to investigate.
They discovered the “lizard” was in fact a garden ornament.
It is thought the decorative object may have been placed in the cat shelter as a joke.
Scottish SPCA animal rescue officer Karen Hogg said: “The caller has a shelter set up in her garden as her cat doesn’t always want to come indoors, so she has a cosy bed with food set up for him.
“When she went to check the shelter yesterday she noticed an animal intruder and got a fright.
“I went to check on it and was surprised to find an ornamental otter. Someone must have placed the garden ornament inside as a joke.
“This job can be very tough as we deal with severely injured animals on a daily basis, so it’s quite nice when something like this makes us smile.”
It is not the first time an inanimate object has been mistaken for a lizard.
Last year, a family in England called out the RSPCA after mistaking a dirty sock for an apparently lifeless lizard.
The stripy pink “creature” was spotted underneath a bed at a property in Goring Road, Coventry, in September.
The Scottish SPCA has also dealt with cases of mistaken identity.
Ms Hogg said: “Last year one of my colleagues responded to a report of an injured bat on a bin but when she arrived she discovered the bat was plastic.
“Although incidents like these are false alarms, it’s always better to be safe than sorry and we’d encourage anyone with concerns about an animal to call our helpline on 03000 999 999.”