Redlegged shorttailed opossum

Monodelphis brevicaudata

SUBFAMILY

Didelphinae

TAXONOMY

Didelphis brevicaudata (Erxleben, 1777), Surinam. OTHER COMMON NAMES

German: Kurzschwanz-Spitzmausbeutelratte; Spanish: Colicorto de patas rojas.

PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICS

Length 4.7-7 in (12-18 cm); weight 1.6-3.5 oz (45-100 g). Legs are relatively short as is the tail. Hair is relatively rigid, short, and dense. Color pattern is variable. The back can be dark gray, grizzled with pale hair tips. The sides are rich deep reddish and the change between the gray and red is a very sharp line. Underparts vary from pale, almost white, to light brown. Some individuals are reddish all over the back. The snout is conical, and the ears are rounded, dark, and naked. The tail is relatively short and hairy only at the base and dorsal surface of the basal one-third.

DISTRIBUTION

Venezuela, Guyana, Suriname, French Guiana, and Brazil north of the Amazon river. This species seems restricted to the northern half of the Amazon river basin.

HABITAT

Tropical moist forest in pristine and modified conditions. Can also be found in orchards and other agroecosystems, but usually upland and away from rivers and streams. It has been found only below 2,620 ft (800 m).

BEHAVIOR

This is among the few diurnal species in the family. It is also one of the least adapted to climbing and moving in trees; the majority of reports describe it as a terrestrial or strictly terrestrial species.

FEEDING ECOLOGY AND DIET

Feeds primarily on insects, rodents, birds, eggs, and some fruit. It hunts opportunistically, running and searching through the forest floor under the litter, under logs, and in hollow trees and fallen logs.

REPRODUCTIVE BIOLOGY

Polygamous. Breeding has been reported almost in every month of the year. Nests are built with plant matter inside or under fallen or hollow logs. The young are born after a gestation of about 15 days. Litters number between five and 12 young. As there is no marsupium, the young are attached to the female's nipples and are dragged under her. As they grow, they begin to travel clinging to their mother's back or sides.

CONSERVATION STATUS

This species is not listed by the IUCN. Although it has been found mainly in undisturbed forest, it seems able to survive also in modified forests and agroecosystems.

SIGNIFICANCE TO HUMANS None known. ♦

H Monodelphis kunsi H Monodelphis brevicaudata

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