It took 13 hours, two litres of oil and two rolls of paper towel to save a blue tongue lizard coated in tar over the weekend.
Residents in Robertson found the lizard stuck in freshly-laid tar on Saturday afternoon.
The lizard eventually ended up in the hands of Highlands snake catcher and reptile expert Ray McGibbon.
“It was a lot worse than I expected, the tar was about two inches thick and only an experienced rehabilitator could handle the lizard,” Ray said.
The lizard arrived in Ray’s care at about 9.30pm on Saturday night, and he worked for about four-and-a-half hours to remove the tar initially.
“I started off using kitchen oil, slowly rubbing and dabbing to get the tar off,” he said.
“We stopped at about 2.30am on Sunday to give the lizard a bit of a rest.”
Ray started cleaning the tar off again at 10.30am on Sunday, and did not finish until 3.30pm that afternoon.
“We finally got him all tar free by the afternoon but he was a bit burnt and there was some scale damage,” Ray said.
The lizard will stay in Ray’s care until it sheds its skin.
“We’ve been applying some creams and ointments to him but he won’t go back into the wild until he sheds his skin so we can see the extent of the damage,” he said.
Ray said it wasn’t uncommon for reptiles to get stuck in tar during the summer months.
“It was one dirty job but it’s rewarding knowing you are saving a life,” he said.
“I know to some people it’s only a blue tongue but to that blue tongue it’s everything.
“If you do find a reptile in this position it is always best to contact a professional handler like myself.”
Ray said it was important to remember that reptiles are part of the Highlands fauna, just like koalas or kangaroos.
“We’ve got to look after reptiles as well, and that’s what I’m all about,” he said.
Anyone that needs assistance relocating, or assisting a reptile can contact Mr McGibbon on 0400 734 225 or he can also be contacted on the Reptile, Rescue and Relocations Southern Highlands Facebook page.
Wildlife Rescue South Coast can also be contacted on 0415 427 214.