When ecologist Angela Sanders opened a nest box in the Monjebup Nature Reserve last week, she found a bizarre – and adorable – scene.
A spiny-tailed gecko was curled up with a small pygmy possum family.
The nest boxes are scattered throughout the reserve, in the southwestern part of WA, and prepared by Bush Heritage volunteers to provide possums with a safe place to care for their young.
“We opened one of the boxes to show some of our volunteers, and there was a gecko embedded with the young people,” Mrs. Sanders said.
Ms Sanders said the gecko was probably petted with possums to get warm.
Bizarre animal friendships
Further north in the state’s Midwest, wildlife nurse Michelle Jones has seen her fair share of unlikely animal matings.
She once had a bearded kite climb up on the back of a kangaroo for an afternoon.
“They were not comrades, he just ran up her back and seemed to like the vantage point,” Ms Jones said.
Also in her care are a dingo and chihuahua that putt in the winter, and a kelpie that helps care for other sick creatures.
“The Chihuahua is in charge, she goes and sits on the back of the dingo,” Ms. Jones said.
“I once had a sick joey, I went outside and my kelpie had curled up around the joey to keep her warm.
“She’s done it with a few animals, a few ducklings and stuff.”
Ms Jones said it was not uncommon for bonds to form across species.
Connects a danger to wildlife
Despite the adorable stories, Ms. Jones said it was important not to encourage native animals to mix with domestic animals if the ultimate goal was to release them back into the wild.
The adorable and unusual friendships she has seen over the years were with native animals that were not rehabilitated back in the bush.
“Any wildlife that comes in that is ready to go out into the wild, I really don’t want it to get used to any domestic animals,” she said.
“Out in any natural environment, a dog will be a predator, so I do not really want it to think, even for a second, that it could be its mate … I keep them completely separate.