Steve the quokka on the run in Western Australia
Residents and walkers in Western Australia are being asked to keep an eye out for a rogue quokka that escaped from Rottnest Island on a rubbish barge.
The marsupial was initially mistaken for a big rat when it was spotted at a recycling centre in Canning Vale on January 4, which meant the sighting was not reported until this week.
Western Australia Police have issued an escaped prisoner-style appeal for information.
"He appears to have escaped from Rottnest Island, possibly on board a rubbish barge, so we seem to be dealing with a very smart, crafty Quokka," the posted have posted on their Facebook page.
"Steve is described as small, cute and furry. He may use his cuteness to trick unsuspecting humans into giving him food.
"As with all escapees, Steve is not to be approached as he may act in an unpredictable manner."
The creature is believed to be at large in the Perth suburb and could be hiding in a nearby nature reserve.
The Department of Parks and Wildlife is also appealing for help from the public to try and track it down.
"Basically the quokka is at large and we're calling on the community - if you see a quokka let us know because we want it back," wildlife officer Matthew Swan said.
"The animal could be anywhere at the facility or could have left the facility and be wandering the streets of Canning Vale.
"This could be quite a frightened and flighty animal that really wants to get away from anything it perceives as a threat and get back to its comfy island home."
Quokkas, famous for posing in selfies, are native to Rottnest Island where about 10,000 live a sheltered life free from predators or traffic.
They are classified as a vulnerable species and have been almost completely wiped out on the mainland.
Penni Fletcher Hughes, from the Rottnest Island Authority, said the escapee needed to be recaptured before it came to harm on the roads or in the jaws of a fox.
"Obviously it's quite an enterprising animal to have got to where it has," she said.
"The main thing is to catch it before it gets onto the road or by a predator."
WA Police have joined the search effort and tweeted a picture of a quokka, asking anyone who sees the escaped animal to call the wildlife helpline.
However, even if Steve the quokka is found, he will not be returning to Rottnest Island, reported the BBC.
To avoid exposing the island's other quokka's to heath risk, the runaway would be taken to a zoo or wildlife park.
- AAP, Stuff