ROTTNEST ISLAND, Australia, Jan. 13 (UPI) -- Authorities in Western Australia are searching for a quokka that escaped from an island on a garbage barge.
The small marsupial, which are native to Western Australia and known for happily participating in selfies, was spotted in a blurry photo at a recycling center in Perth after being mistaken for a "large rat," according to Rottnest Island Authority.
Penni Fletcher-Hughes of Rottnest Island Authority said the quokka, named Steve, likely wandered onto the barge searching for food and was then accidentally transported to the recycling center.
"I have seen them climb the walls; they are quite resourceful when it comes to searching for food," she said. "We are not concerned in terms of him finding food...it's other threats and just general stress. It's a bit stressful to suddenly wake up in a recycling center."
Quokkas enjoy a habitat free of both cars and large predators on Rottnest Island and the potential of encountering those new threats have officials concerned for its safety.
"Basically, this quokka is now at large," wildlife officer Matt Swan said."
Authorities are unsure whether Steve is hiding under piles of garbage or has escaped into a nearby bushland through a hole in the center's fence.
The Department of Parks and Wildlife has set up a public hotline to report sightings of the quokka and Swan said wildlife officials are unable to place traps because they would likely catch feral cats or foxes instead.
"It's a needle-in-a-haystack type situation," he said.
If Steve is found he will be rehomed at either Perth Zoo or a wildlife park due to fear of infecting the other quokkas if he were to return to Rottnest Island.