Gecko strikes up unlikely animal friendship with pygmy opossum family in Western Australia

When conservationist Angela Sanders opened a birdhouse in Monjebup Nature Reserve last week, she found a bizarre and adorable scene.

A spiny-tailed gecko was curled up with a small family of pygmy possums.

Nest boxes are scattered throughout the reserve in southwest WA and prepared by Bush Heritage volunteers to give the possums a safe place to feed their young.

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

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

The lizard seemed comfortable and content in the box with the opossum family. (Provided: Alex Hams)

weird animal friendships

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

She once rode a bearded dragon on the back of a kangaroo for an afternoon.

a lizard sitting on a kangaroo
Elliot the central bearded dragon on Rosie the kangaroo’s back.(Provided: Michelle Jones)

“They weren’t friends, he just ran behind her and seemed to like the view,” Ms Jones said.

She also cares for a dingo and chihuahua that cuddle in the winter, and a kelpie that helps care for other sick creatures.

A dingo wearing a headscarf is lying on the ground with a chihuahua sitting on his back.
McKenzie the dingo with Stella the chihuahua.(Provided: Michelle Jones)

“The chihuahua is in charge, she’s going to sit on the dingo’s back,” Ms Jones said.

“I had a sick Joey once, I went out and my kelpie had wrapped around the Joey to keep him warm.

A black and tan kelpie sits around a kangaroo joey on the grass.
Michelle’s kelpie is known to feed injured wildlife. (Provided: Michelle Jones)

“She did that with a few animals, a few ducklings and everything.”

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. (Provided: Michelle Jones)

Links a danger to wild animals

Despite the adorable stories, Ms Jones said it was important not to encourage native animals to mix with pets 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 that weren’t rehabilitated in the bush.

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“Any wildlife that comes in and is ready to go out into the wild, I really don’t want them getting used to pets,” she said.

“In any natural setting, a dog is going to be a predator, so I don’t really want him to think for even a second that he could be his mate…I keep them totally separate.

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