Last month, someone found an orphaned possum and handed it over to a wildlife rescue service in Melbourne, Australia. The little possum was born with a “genetic mutation,” which caused its fur to be much brighter and appear yellow. To highlight the importance of the mutated Australian possum, scientists named it after a Pokemon: Pikachu.
The news of the possum Pikachu was reported by The Age. The mutated Australian possum got its name because of its special mutation that it was born with. The mutation includes a lack of melanin which is similar to the Albino condition in humans. That means that its fur won’t appear brown but much brighter, in this particular case, it turned out to be yellow-gold.
Vet Stephen Reinsch who examined Pikachu told The Age that it was found laying on the ground by a “member of the public.” He believes that Pikachu fell off her mother’s back. Even though it appeared quite anxious when they found her, she was in good health, being about five months old.
It’s likely that Pikachu won’t get released back into the wilderness. It’s mostly because her bright fur could make her an extremely easy target to predators, and easily expose her to danger. Instead, it’s a priority to find a place where she’ll feel safe and comfortable. Dr Reinsch added that brushtail possums like her are quite territorial which makes releasing them into the wild difficult, knowing it’d be hard to adapt.
“If she becomes [a little] more out there and a bit feisty she might be released, but if she stays anxious she will remain in long-term care,” he told The Age.
“One of the issues with unusual colours, particularly if they are pale, is this a nocturnal animal and if they are pale they are obvious to predators like an owl,” Melbourne University’s Dr Kath Handasyde told The Age.
It’s surprising, however, but this mutated Australian possum is not the only golden possum around. Wildlife Victoria’s Caroline Dazey said there are “little pockets of them in Victoria and we try to keep their location secret to keep them safe.”
Whether the mutated Australian possum will be returned to the wild or not will be decided by her carer. Nevertheless, even in the wild it would be wise to keep an eye on her. You never know when Team Rocket could appear, or some other Pokemon hunter, who might want to update their rare Pokemon collection.