Baretailed woolly opossum

Caluromys philander

SUBFAMILY

Caluromyinae

TAXONOMY

Didelphis philander (Linnaeus, 1758), America, restricted to Surinam; Ghana.

OTHER COMMON NAMES

French: Opossum laineux; German: Gelbe Wollbeutelratte; Spanish: Tlacuache lanudo, comadreja lanuda, cuica lanuda.

PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICS

Length 7-10 in (18-28 cm); weight 6.0-15 oz (180-450 g). The back is nearly uniform cinnamon brown and the face is gray with brown bulging eyes, with a black fine line between the eyes. Ears are large, naked, pink, and membranous. More than half of the tail is furry.

DISTRIBUTION

Venezuela, Trinidad and Tobago, Guyana, Suriname, French Guiana, and Brazil.

HABITAT

Primary and secondary tropical lowland moist forest in both swampy and well-drained areas, from sea level up to about 2,000 ft (600 m). Rarely, it has also been found in plantations and other agroecosystems. Often found high in the canopy but also rarely seen on the ground or close to it.

BEHAVIOR

This is a solitary species. The only groups reported are those composed of a female and her suckling young attached to the mammae. Primarily arboreal and rarely abandons the shelter of the high and medium canopy. They are primarily nocturnal and crepuscular, decreasing their activity in periods of high levels of lunar illumination.

FEEDING ECOLOGY AND DIET

Feeds primarily on fruits but also takes some leaves, insects, bird eggs, and nestlings.

REPRODUCTIVE BIOLOGY

Polygamous. Females construct nests with plant matter inside hollow trees. After a brief gestation of less than 15 days, one to six young are born blind, naked, and with closed ears. The young crawl to the nipple area, where each attaches to one. There is no well-developed pouch, only lateral folds of skin. Reproduction may occur throughout the year but most frequently at the start of the rainy season.

CONSERVATION STATUS

Seems to be dependent on undisturbed tropical moist forest, although it has sometimes been found in secondary vegetation. Destruction of its habitat is the most serious threat. The IUCN lists the species as Lower Risk/Near Threatened.

SIGNIFICANCE TO HUMANS

It is sometimes kept as a pet, and otherwise the species is considered harmful to banana and citrus plantations. ♦

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