LIZARDS were cruelly dumped in a bin and left to die from the cold.

Animal welfare inspectors are hunting for the person responsible who abandoned four bearded dragons, which experts believe may have tried to frantically scratch their way out.

The lizards were found dead in bins outside a Southampton pharmacy and probably died from the effects of the cold, the RSPCA said.

Staff at Lloyds Pharmacy in Dean Road, Bitterne, made the discovery when they arrived to start work.

They found the bright red wheelie bin had been tipped over and rubbish was strewn all over the floor.

RSPCA inspector Tina Ward said pharmacy staff had told her all the rubbish in the bins is put into black bags but the bags were ripped and torn up and there were scratch marks inside the bin.

She said: “We believe these animals were dumped in the bin while they were still alive and were left there to die. Bearded dragons cannot regulate their own body temperature and require a carefully controlled temperature of between 25 and 40 degrees celsius during the day.

“If reptiles become too cold they can become stressed, may be unable to feed or move and their immune system is suppressed.

“These poor animals most likely died of hypothermia which is horrific.”

A Lloyds Pharmacy spokeswoman confirmed the incident, which happened last Monday, and that the lizards were found alongside the contents of a bin.

“Colleagues at the pharmacy do not know how this happened and contacted the RSPCA who are investigating,”

she said.

RSPCA inspectors are urging witnesses to come forward who may have seen the dragons being dumped or who knows who they belong to to call the inspector appeal line on 0300 123 4999.