During a routine check at a border crossing, Swiss customs officers made an unexpected discovery: 35 brightly coloured rare frogs and a gecko hidden in the boot of a taxi.

The French taxi driver was alone in the vehicle when he was stopped on September 14 at a border crossing with Germany, and tried to smuggle the creatures into Switzerland without the required documentation, the Swiss customs service said in a statement on Thursday.

The tiny, brightly coloured Oophaga, Excidobates and Ranitomeya frogs and the dwarf gecko are all endangered species.

Packed into small, plastic boxes for the journey, the amphibians and the reptile were immediately seized and a criminal probe was launched against the driver, the customs office said.

The Frenchman, whose name was not given, risks fines of more than 2,000 Swiss francs ($2,200, 1,600 euros), it added.

Importing animals of this type into Switzerland requires a permit from the Swiss Federal Veterinary Office and a certificate from the organisation that oversees the trade of endangered species, in addition to customs declarations.

 

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