The Scottish SPCA were called in to rescue a giant lizard found hiding from the cold weather, only to discover it was an ornamental otter.
A concerned member of the public called the Scottish welfare charity after finding what appeared to be a disconcertingly large reptile inside her cat shelter in Aberdeen.
Animal rescue officers were called by the startled homeowner, who asked them to pick up the 12-inch “lizard” on Tuesday.
The SSPCA’s Karen Hogg said: “The caller has a shelter set up in her garden as her cat doesn’t always want to come indoors.
“When she went to check the shelter 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.”
The rescue officer admitted the incident had brought a light-hearted moment into what can often be a very challenging job.
“This job can be very tough as we deal with severely injured animals on a daily basis,” she said.
“It’s quite nice when something like this makes us smile.
“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.”
In February, armed police were sent to Peterhead after a farmer spotted a tiger in his cow shed.
Multiple units descended upon the property and checks were even made with a wildlife park before it became clear the animal was a toy.
In 2011, meanwhile, a life-sized stuffed tiger sparked a major police operation involving armed officers and a helicopter after several members of the public spotted what they thought was a live animal in a field in Hampshire.
Anyone with a concerns about an animal’s welfare can contact the SSPCA helpline by ringing 03000 999 999.