A couple had a surprise when they found a tree frog nestling in some asparagus tips they bought in a supermarket.

Ann and Jim MacFarlane, from Southampton, made the discovery after buying the Peruvian vegetables at a supermarket in Portsmouth.

But the couple did not have far to turn to find a new home for the frog as their daughter Jenna works as an aquarist specialising in tropical frogs.

Now Miss MacFarlane has taken the frog, who she named Maurice, to be looked after at the Blue Reef Aquarium in Southsea where she works.

She said: ''The chances of finding a tree frog in your vegetables is extremely remote.

''So I can't imagine how unlikely it is for the parents of an aquarist who actually looks after tropical frogs as part of her day job to come across one.

''Still it was very lucky for Maurice and he is now in our quarantine area where he appears to be in excellent condition, despite his epic journey.

''Once he's got the all clear our plan is for him to go on public show in one of our amphibian displays.''

Despite being found among Peruvian asparagus, Maurice is actually a European tree frog which is found throughout much of the continental mainland as well as in parts of Africa and Asia.

Reaching a maximum size of just 5cm, the frogs can live for up to 15 years and are found in marshlands, parks, vineyards, orchards and gardens.

Miss MacFarlane said: ''The frogs often hibernate in walls, cellars or under clumps of vegetation so maybe that's how Maurice ended up in Portsmouth.''

She added: ''Apparently in some countries European tree frogs used to be seen as a kind of natural barometer because they start croaking when it's about to rain.''

Although not officially threatened, the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) believes wild populations are decreasing due to a combination of habitat loss, climate change, pollution and predation by pet animals.