Alstons woolly mouse opossum

Micoureus alstoni

SUBFAMILY

Didelphinae

TAXONOMY

Caluromys alstoni (J. A. Allen, 1900), Cartago, Costa Rica. OTHER COMMON NAMES

French: Souris-opossum laineuse d'Alston; Spanish: Zorrici. PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICS

Length 6.7-7.9 in (17-20 cm); weight 2-5.3 oz (60-150 g). One of the largest mouse opossums. The dorsal hair is yellowish brown to reddish; underparts are paler. Distinct black mask over each eye. The tail is long, slender, and naked. There is no marsupium. The feet have strongly opposable thumbs.

DISTRIBUTION

Caribbean coast of Central America from Belize to Panama and into Colombia, and also in some Caribbean coastal islands.

HABITAT

Inhabits lowland tropical moist forest and cloud forest below 5,250 ft (1,600 m), and also areas of secondary forest.

BEHAVIOR

Nocturnal and solitary. Primarily moves in tree canopies and from branch to branch, but can also be found occasionally on the ground.

FEEDING ECOLOGY AND DIET

Polygamous. Feeds on insects, eggs, fruit, and small vertebrates. Attacks its prey by grasping it with its hands and apply-

ing a series of quick bites all over the body of the prey. Then it is consumed from the head down. Legs and wings of insects are discarded.

REPRODUCTIVE BIOLOGY

Polygamous. Females build spherical nests with vegetation and debris. After a short gestation of less than two weeks, the young are born in a very undeveloped state. Births have been reported almost in every month of the year. Litter size varies from two to about 14 young.

CONSERVATION STATUS

The IUCN classified this species as Lower Risk/Near Threatened. Severe deforestation in Central America is likely having a strong negative impact on this and other species of the region, although it has been found in some protected areas in Costa Rica.

SIGNIFICANCE TO HUMANS None known. ♦

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