The wildlife officer pops the metal lid off a can of powdered chocolate drink mix, releasing a rush of sour air that smells like excrement. Inside is a black sock crimped by rubber bands. Carefully unrolling the sock, she discovers a small, brown-scaled reptile—a shingleback lizard, barely conscious and severely dehydrated, with duct tape across its arms and legs to restrict its movement.
According to the delivery label, the can was part of a larger consignment—a box full of other tins and objects containing more reptiles—en route to Hong Kong, likely to be sold as pets. At the Australia Post Melbourne Gateway Facility in Victoria, where every piece of outbound mail is scanned, inspectors intercepted the contraband and called in state