Gecko forges unlikely animal friendship with pygmy possum family in Western Australia

When ecologist Angela Sanders opened a nesting box in the Monjebup nature reserve last week, she found a bizarre — and adorable — scene.

A spiny-tailed gecko was curled up with a tiny pygmy possum family.

The nesting boxes are scattered throughout the reserve, in WA’s south-west, and prepared by Bush Heritage volunteers to give the possums a safe place to nurture their young.

“We opened one of the boxes to show some of our volunteers, and there was a gecko nestled in with the young ones,” Ms Sanders said.

Ms Sanders said the gecko was probably cuddled up with the possums for warmth.

A lizard and a possum can be seen among gum leaves in a nesting box.
The lizard seemed cosy and content in the box with the possum family. (Supplied: Alex Hams)

Bizarre animal friendships

Further north in the state’s Mid West, wildlife carer Michelle Jones has seen her fair share of unlikely animal pairings.

She once had a bearded dragon climb onto the back of a kangaroo for an afternoon.

a lizard sitting on a kangaroo
Elliot the central bearded dragon on the back of Rosie the kangaroo.(Supplied: Michelle Jones)

“They weren’t mates, 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 who cuddle in the winter, and a kelpie who helps care for other sick creatures.

A dingo wearing a neckerchief lays on the ground with a chihuahua sitting on its back.
McKenzie the dingo with Stella the chihuahua.(Supplied: Michelle Jones)

“The chihuahua is in charge, she goes and sits on the back of the dingo,” Ms Jones said.

“I had sick joey once, I went outside and my kelpie had curled around the joey to keep her warm.

A black and tan kelpie lies around a kangaroo joey on the grass.
Michelle’s kelpie has been known to nurture wounded wildlife. (Supplied: Michelle Jones)

“She’s done that with a few animals, a few ducklings and things.”

Ms Jones said it was not uncommon for cross-species bonds to form.

an emu chick and joey
Michelle Jones says this emu chick and joey remained friends until they grew up. (Supplied: Michelle Jones)

Bonds a danger for wild animals

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’s seen over the years were with native animals not being rehabilitated back into the bush.

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“Any wildlife that comes in that’s ready to go out to the wild, I really don’t want it to get used to any domesticated animals,” she said.

“Out in any natural setting, a dog is going to be a predator, so I don’t really want it to think, even for a second, that it could be its mate … I keep them totally separated.

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