Hairless Baby Opossum gets a new wardrobe | Sunday Observer

Hairless Baby Opossum gets a new wardrobe

17 January, 2021
This hairless opossum suffers from a rare genetic condition that causes hair loss
This hairless opossum suffers from a rare genetic condition that causes hair loss

Over the years, the caretakers at the Southern Plains Wildlife Rehabilitation Center (SPWRC) in Lubbock, Texas, have sheltered hundreds of species of orphaned and injured animals, ranging from birds to reptiles. However, the hairless baby opossum, dropped off at the centre in mid-October by a concerned resident, was unlike any animal they had encountered before.

SPWRC Executive Director Gail Barnes says, "When I was bringing the box back in, an arm came out of the box, and I thought, 'Oh my gosh, it’s a hairless cat. I opened it up, and it was an opossum."'

 Fans have been knitting warm clothing to keep the infant opossum warm during winter

The four-month-old female opossum, most likely abandoned by its mother due to its condition, was underweight and suffering from hypothermia and had to be instantly placed into an incubator. Under the loving care of the SPWRC staff, who fed her delectable snacks like crickets, mealworms, cottage cheese, applesauce, and yogurt, the infant gradually began to gain weight and recover. A closer examination revealed that the opossum suffered from alopecia — a rare condition where the body's immune system mistakenly attacks hair follicles, resulting in hair loss. While the disease, which also occurs in humans, is not a big deal for some, it is life-threatening for the marsupials, who rely on their fur to keep warm.

Realising the animal would need some clothing to survive the winter months, the centre reached out to the public through social media. To their delight, fans instantly responded. “I've had so many phone calls, and people on our Facebook page are making it wardrobes. They're knitting sweaters. People with hairless cats are donating their cats' clothing when they were kittens. So it's going to have a complete wardrobe,” Barnes said.