Thicktailed opossum

Lutreolina crassicaudata




Didelphis crassicaudata (Desmarest, 1804), Asunción, Paraguay. OTHER COMMON NAMES

English: Little water opossum; French: Opossum á queue grasse; German: Dickschwanzbeutelratte; Spanish: Comadreja colorada, coligrueso.


Length 10-16 in (25-40 cm); weight 7-19 oz (200-540 g). The dense, soft, and relatively short hair is uniformly light cinnamon to dark brown and paler below. The legs are relatively short and the body is elongated with a long neck; the ears are short; the tail is long and almost completely furred, except for the ventral surface. There is a well-developed pouch.


As understood in 2002, the distribution is disjunct, with one population occurring in eastern Colombia, southern Venezuela, and Guyana, and another in eastern Bolivia, northeastern Argentina, southern Brazil, Paraguay, and Uruguay, from an altitude of 1,970-6,560 ft (600-2,000 m).


Found in lowland and mid-elevation tropical moist forests, grasslands, and shrublands, as well as in forest edges. Always associated with streams and rivers.


Roosts in hollows in trees, dens of other animals, and nests constructed among the vegetation. An excellent swimmer and

also a good climber, this is a nocturnal species. It is apparently the only species of didelphid that can be accommodated in captivity in small groups, with a weak social structure that permits coexistence of two to three animals.


Primarily carnivorous, feeding on small vertebrates on land and in the water, as well as crustaceans, insects, and other small animals. An antibothropic biochemical factor has been isolated from its blood, indicating some level of immunity to the venom of snakes.


Polygamous. Gestation lasts about two weeks. Females give birth to the young in a very undeveloped state. These crawl into the pouch where they attach themselves to a nipple. Births occur twice during the year.


Not listed by the IUCN. It seems to be adaptable to a certain degree of disturbance and can be locally common in some areas.


Sometimes considered a nuisance because of its occasional raids on henhouses. ♦

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