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.
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.
“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.
“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.
“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.
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.
“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.