The gidgee skink is a popular pet. Photo by iStock.
The gidgee skink is a popular pet. Photo by iStock.

A 23-year-old man from Sydney has been arrested for allegedly trying to smuggle six live lizards, including five gidgee skinks, into Hong Kong via the mail.

Earlier this week, the Department of Environment and Energy in Australia intercepted a package at a post office in Sydney. The package was destined for Hong Kong and the interception was part of an ongoing investigation into illegal animal trade, the Australian Associated Press reported.

Authorities added the reptiles were stored inside tubes used to store or transport gambling chips. The lizards were wrapped in paper towel with brown paper around their limbs.

The suspect, who was apprehended outside the post office, has been charged 11 counts of attempting to export a regulated native specimen. His case will be brought up at the New South Wales District Court on October 2.

According to the Department of Environment and Energy, the suspect is the second alleged animal trafficker in the past four weeks to go to court.

A spokesperson from the Australian Border Force (ABF) said animal trafficking is a lucrative trade, and that the ABF is working closely with partner agencies to combat the exploitation of Australian native species.

The gidgee skink is a species belonging to the large Egernia genus of Australian lizards and is commonly kept as a pet due to its shy behavior and cute appearance.