In late 19th century New Zealand , the non-native brushtail possum population had reached staggering numbers due to the lack of any natural predators. The consequences of this was extreme damage to New Zealand's native flora and fauna.
Several people in New Zealand discovered that the fiber from the possum could be processed and spun into a very fine fiber. Once this was discovered, a new market emerged and the possum then had to face the ultimate natural predator; man. By making the fibers valuable, the hunting of the possums became an economically viable activity, which then began to control the populations.
Like many other natural fibers, the hollow possum fibers trap a lot of air. The more air trapped within a fiber the more warmth it will retain for the wearer. Possum fibers are shown to be 55% warmer than merino and 35% warmer than cashmere of the same weight and knit structure.
Possum fibers have a unique makeup of a water holding interior, known as the cortex, and a water repelling exterior known as the cuticle. This wicks moisture away from the wearer and at the same time makes the garments water repellent in rainy conditions.
Yarns made of possum fiber are soft and very light to the touch.