EDINBURG, Texas (ValleyCentral) — From a college senior project to “cute little doodles” that became a local 956 cultural trend a local tattoo artist is capitalizing on the Valley’s obsession with opossums.

Local tattoo artist Micah Gonzalez has an apprentice at their shop that specializes in “tlacuaches” tattoos.

Tattoo apprentice Anayssa Gutierrez began drawing the four-legged “Valley cats” during her time as a student at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley. For her senior project, Gutierrez created art depicting the mistreatment that opossums often go through.

Courtesy of Micah Gonzalez and Anayssa Gutierrez

“I feel like I always see how opossums are kind of treated like a pest,” Gutierrez said “We hear stories about people even killing them … with no regard of the nature.”

Opossums are known to be an important role in the Rio Grande Valley’s ecosystem from eating small bugs and parasites such as ticks and snails to even eating small rodents.

According to the Humane Society of the United States, opossums are known to clean up spilled garbage and fallen fruit from trees.

When Gutierrez was introduced to the world of tattooing, she felt her drawings could help others to be more accepting of opossums.

Both artists have noticed the ongoing trend of opossums, especially on social media — most importantly how they are now known across the Valley as “cuhs.”

Courtesy of Micah Gonzalez and Anayssa Gutierrez

Gonzalez said opossums are relatable to people in the Valley who also call themselves “cuhs” or “homie.”

“I noticed, how … these opossums represent our culture or the Valley in some way,” Gutierrez said.

Gutierrez and Gonzalez describe their unique “cute little doodles” as a blend of modern mixed with new school. Gutierrez has created multiple tattoo sketches including a sold-out sticker of an opossum with a “956 Cuh” lettering.

“I think my favorite one has to be the opossum running with a bunch of conchas,” Gutierrez said.

Some of their most popular designs include a opossum with a raccoon together, which signifies pride, and others include a simple sketch line work of an opossum.