A family got more than they bargained for following a recent trip to Aldi – after they ended up adopting a newt they found in their packet of celery as their new pet.

The unknown item managed to pass through the baggage area while Phillip Caterer-Stentiford, 41, did his weekly big shop earlier this month.

He later discovered the little brown critter when it tumbled onto his kitchen worktop as he pulled stalks from the celery bunch.

The speedy little creature made a quick break for freedom but Phillip managed to scoop it up and popped it in an old hamster tank in his lounge.

Philip, wife Karen, 41, and son Archie, four, initially named the mini beast Larry the lizard – but revised the name to Nigella the newt after some online research.

The 84p celery, originally destined for a family dinner, has also been put in the tank with Nigella.

Philip, who takes in rescue cats, said he's happily fostering the common newt until the animal is properly identified, so he knows where to release it safely.

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He hopes to give the two-inch animal a forever home in a woodland area with a natural pond near the family home in South Croydon.

The building supplies worker said: "It was a huge shock, and also a bit of a concern because we'd had some of the celery earlier in the week.

"We felt worried for the animal too. It had been stuck in our fridge for six days, and in the shop before that, and had been transported from the farm.

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"That's a long time to be refrigerated.

"It's exciting too. You really do get attached to things, and Archie thinks it's very cool!"

Philip and storage manager Karen have put a book on top of the tank to prevent pet cats Gin, Tonic, Mohawk and Brutus trying to visit Nigella.

The celery was bought as part of the family shop on August 9 at the Aldi store in Selsdon, south Croydon, and the newt was found on August 14.

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Philip said that following the discovery of little Nigella, Aldi has offered a £15 voucher and for the RSPCA to collect the creature, he said.

An Aldi spokesperson said: "Whilst extremely rare, this can occasionally occur with products that are grown in natural conditions.

"We have apologised to Mr Caterer-Stentiford that this product didn't meet our usual high standards and we have offered a full refund."

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