Possum with 'rare' genetic mutation leaves Aussie feeling 'very lucky'

A woman shared the photo of her rare, little friend saying it's been visiting her for years now.

Possums are a normal part of living in Australia, with most Aussies seeing these furry friends in trees and in their attics. But one very special possum has left a lasting impression on a woman because of how noticeably different it looks.

The Victorian woman shared a photo of her regular visitor to her local nature group online, showing that instead of the normal grey, it's fur is a startlingly bright, gold colour.

"[It] never gets less exciting to have an encounter with this one," she said. "[I] feel very lucky to have this one frequenting our garden".

Hayley Shute, from the Australian Reptile Park, told Yahoo News Australia this possum is a golden brushtail, known by some as a "Pikachu possum".

The 'rare' golden brushtail possum pictured in a tree.
The 'rare' golden brushtail possum has been visiting one family for a couple of years now. Source: Facebook

What makes a possum's fur golden?

Golden brushtail possums are this colour because of a genetic mutation that occurs at birth. It's the result of low levels of melanin in their skin and fur.

"[They're] rare to see in the wild," Hayley said.

Their colour sadly means they naturally find it harder to camouflage than other possums do, so they may be more likely to become prey which is partially why it's less likely to see them out and about.

Right image is of a golden brushtail possums and left image is of a common brushtail possum.
Golden brushtail possums (right) look very different to common brushtails (left). Source: Getty

Brushtail possums are native to Australia

Though some consider common possums, like brushtails or ringtails, to be pests — they are actually native species.

Brushtail possums are marsupials and are about the size of a house cat. These nocturnal animals tend to be black or grey and, according to NSW Department of Planning and Environment, are the most widely distributed possum in Australia.

Due to being found in urban areas often, ABC Pest Control Warren Bailey previously told Yahoo that you can safely deter them from your home by getting a one-way door, which allows the possum to leave the area and prevent it from re-entering, and you can call a professional to block off the entry points.

If you see an injured possum, contact your local council or wildlife rescuer.

Do you have a story tip? Email: newsroomau@yahoonews.com.

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