Bizarre bedfellows: Gecko found living with possum family

By Candice Marshall June 28, 2022
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A gecko found sharing a nesting box with a family of possums is still there, one week later.

Hearts melted across Australia last week, when Bush Heritage Australia posted these two adorable photos to their Facebook page, showing an orange-eyed southwestern spiny-tailed gecko cosied up to a family of western pygmy possums:

The discovery was made when staff and volunteers were checking possum nesting boxes on the conservation organisation’s Monjebup Reserve in south-west Western Australia. 

“The gecko was actually curled up amongst the babies, it was absolutely incredible,” says Bush Heritage Australia ecologist Angela Sanders. 

“I’ve been checking hundreds of boxes over the years and that’s the first time we’ve found a gecko – or any reptile – in the same living space as the possums. It was amazing.”

And if that wasn’t amazing enough, we now know this wasn’t a one-off occurrence.

One week later, Bush Heritage’s Alex Hams has returned to the same nesting box to find the gecko still there.

“So it’s not just a one-off fluke, the same gecko is still in the box. It’s actually living in there.”

One week later, the gecko is found to still be living in the nesting box with the possums. Photo credit: Alex Hams, Bush Heritage Australia Healthy Landscapes Manager for South Coast WA.

Angela theorises the gecko was drawn to the nesting box for warmth. And because the gecko is not a predator, the possum parents let it stay. 

“These geckos are nocturnal but they are known to get out in the middle of the day to bask in the sun … and they also live in termite mounds and we think that’s because of the warmth – so we think that’s why the gecko is in the nesting box.

“The gecko certainly wouldn’t eat the baby possums, they’re insectivorous. And the possums won’t eat the gecko because they just live on pollen and nectar and insects, so they’re not interested in eating each other, which is good!

“It’s really surprising, it’s incredible.”

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