Bree Blakeman opened the door to her office on Monday morning to find the place trashed.
Blakeman, who works as a research fellow at the Australian National University in Canberra, assumed someone must have broken in to the office.
Precious Aboriginal bark paintings and maps were strewn across the floor and books had fallen from shelves. There was a hole in the office's ceiling, with dislodged tiles lying on the ground beneath.
Looking around to see what else was damaged or stolen, Blakeman realised she wasn't alone.
"It wasn’t until I went to check my computer on the far side of the room that I noticed a fluffy little face staring at me from behind the computer," Blakeman told BuzzFeed News. "And that’s when I also noticed the toilet droppings and urine everywhere too. It all made sense."
The intruder? A common Australian brushtail possum, which had made its way into the office through the roof.
"It seemed resigned and of course a bit shy and scared. Going by the number of books that had fallen from the shelves I think it must have tried to climb up the shelves to get up through the ceiling again a number of times. So I think it was a bit exhausted too," Blakeman said.
She felt sorry for the animal. Possums are nocturnal creatures, so being stuck in an office filled with light is not ideal.
"I gave it some water, a piece of carrot, and a few kind words before closing the door and calling the relocation people. It wasn’t uncomfortable for me at all. It was very sweet," Blakeman said.
In the meantime, Blakeman posted to Twitter about her run in with some Australian wildlife. It turns out the possum is... very relatable.
Before long, hundreds of people had replied, talking about her furry visitor's sheepish look.
Later on Monday morning, a box trap with fruit to entice the possum was placed in the office in the hopes it could be safely relocated.
But Australia's recent spate of wild weather got in the way. ANU campus was closed after Canberra was hit by a severe hail storm, which hampered efforts to evacuate the possum. By the following afternoon, it still occupied the office.
Then finally on the morning of Jan. 22, some good news: the possum had departed Blakeman's office of its own accord.
"I just received an email to say that possum has made its own way out of the room! After a rest and a snack it must have managed to climb back up through the hole in the ceiling," Blakeman told BuzzFeed News.
Blakeman's office is still in a mess. There's probably a lot of possum poop in there, and she's worried about potential damage to the possessions belonging to the colleague.
But she is also concerned about the animal's wellbeing. When speaking to BuzzFeed News, Blakeman urged others to donate to charities that help rescue wildlife.
"There is always a shortage of mature trees with suitable hollow branches in suburban areas so possums often take up residence in ceiling cavities," she said. "I’m glad this story had a happy ending but many don’t and many of these little possums end up having to be rescued for one reason or another."
Blakeman’s colleague stores possessions in her office. An earlier version of this post said they shared the office.