Patagonian opossum

Lestodelphys halli

SUBFAMILY

Didelphinae

TAXONOMY

Notodelphys halli (Thomas, 1921), Santa Cruz, Argentina. OTHER COMMON NAMES

French: Opossum de Patagonie; German: Patagonien-Beutelratten; Spanish: Comadrejita patagónica.

PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICS

Length 5-6 in (13-15 cm). The dorsal hair is dense and soft, dark grayish brown with paler sides. Males have an orange patch on the throat. The face is paler than the rest of the body. There are dark patches on shoulders and hips, and the underparts, hands, and feet are white. The tail is clearly shorter than the head and body, and seasonally it appears thick from fat reserves. Tail furry only at the base and covered with fine hairs the rest of its length. Canine teeth are relatively long.

DISTRIBUTION

Occurs in a relatively small region of southern Argentina in the provinces of Río Negro, Neuquén, Santa Cruz, La Pampa, Mendoza, and Chubut.

HABITAT

It has been reported from the South American steppe grasslands (pampas), and also from shrublands; often associated with streams and other water bodies.

BEHAVIOR

Seems to be a primarily terrestrial species. It is solitary and active at night.

FEEDING ECOLOGY AND DIET

A specimen was captured in a trap baited with a dead bird. This species is considered a carnivore but more likely it is insectivorous. Its diet may also include fruit, eggs, and small vertebrates.

REPRODUCTIVE BIOLOGY

Polygamous, but nothing else is known.

CONSERVATION STATUS

The distribution is restricted to a small region of southern Argentina. Classified as Vulnerable. Some portions of its habitat have been modified.

SIGNIFICANCE TO HUMANS None known. ♦

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