Other name(s): STO; Gray Short-tailed Opossum; Brazilian Opossum; Rainforest Opossum; South American Short-tailed Opossum; House Opossum; Colicorto Gris
Scientific name: Monodelphis domestica
Short-tailed Opossums, once largely unknown outside their native range, have taken the pet trade by storm. Mild mannered and relatively hardy (if somewhat short-lived), these diminutive marsupials make an excellent introduction to exotic mammal care.
The Short-tailed Opossum is found in Brazil, Paraguay, Bolivia and Argentina, South America.
They are quite adaptable, being at home in wet forests, arid scrub, brushy grasslands, farms, and suburban/rural yards. If unmolested, they will take up residence in homes and barns.
Appearance / health:
Short-tailed Opossums are light to reddish-gray in color, and have semi-prehensile tails, large eyes, and pointed snouts. Adults average a mere 10-15 cm (3.9-5.9 in) 26.5 cm in length.
Nutritional deficiencies caused by a “favorite-foods-only” diet and dehydration (to which they are prone), are the most common health problems. Captive lifespans average 3-6 years.
Behavior / temperament:
Short-tailed Opossums often accept gentle handling, but should not be awoken roughly (they are nocturnal). Like many creatures, they will resist handing that involves restraint, and can inflict painful nips.
While success has been had in keeping Short-tailed Opossums in 20 gallon aquariums, commercial Sugar Glider cages or custom-made enclosures are preferable. Branches, platforms, and a nest box must be available. Hardwood chips may be used as litter; they tend to defecate in one spot, so a small pan may be used. PVC tubes, exercise wheels and similar items should also be provided. A temperature range of 21-27 C (70-81 F) should be maintained.
Commercial Short-tailed Opossum diets or insectivorous mammal chow (i.e. hedgehog diets) should make up the bulk of their food intake. Fruit, vegetables, hard-boiled eggs, and mealworms and other insects should be offered regularly. Vitamin/mineral supplements should be used per manufacturer’s recommendations. Water must always be available, as they dehydrate quickly.
Short-tailed Opossums are solitary and territorial; pairs cannot be housed together year-round and bite injuries may result during mating attempts. Females give birth to 2-5 annual litters of 2-5 youngsters, which become independent at age 40 days.
Written by Frank Indiviglio
fascinating animals, play time, charming little creatures
pungent odor, SMELL Shorttailed opossum, teeny bit nippy.STO, razor sharp teeth, cages you'd need
varied diet, live insects, great hunters, tall cage, hamster ball
"I took in a male and female short tailed opossum awhile back and I find them to be absolutely charming little creatures. My female is sweet as can be but shy, and my male is bold but can be a teeny bit nippy.<br>STO's are nocturnal, and belong to the marsupial species (they are not rodents). Although the females do not have pouches to carry their young in, the unformed babies travel from the vaginal canal and attach themselves to a nipple on the mothers belly, and they literally hang there until they are fully formed, and weaned.<br>Much like the large Virginia Opossum, it isn't wise to keep these animals in a cage with others, they tend to fight and can do some serious damage to each other. Given that, if you decide to breed a pair, you'd better be prepared to have a seperate cage for each possum once they are old enough to be on their own to avoid injuries or casualties.........and they can carry up to about a dozen young, so that is a lot of cages you'd need to have on hand.<br>I feed my STO's a high quality organic cat food, fruit, vegetables, and different proteins such as: mealworms, crickets, (and other insects), cooked chicken, turkey, eggs and organic yogurt. I have also given them Advantage Raw diet which is raw meat with added veggie and fruits. Its 100% organic and comes in small cubes that I keep in the freezer. STO's have a common habit of losing their fur and developing bald spots which is thought to be caused by a diet too low in protein. My male came to me like this, and has not re-grown any hair back in those spots despite the protein-rich diet I have them on.<br>STO's do have somewhat of a pungent odor, similar to Sugar Gliders although not quite as intense. I have heard you can litter box train these little guys but mine have not grasped that concept. My male goes everywhere and anywhere, my female goes on her wheel and on the tray below it only.<br>STO's should be given a cage with ample room, and if it is a wire cage, the bars need to be only 1/2 inch apart or less to prevent escapes or injuries. They need a smooth surfaced running wheel, 11" to prevent damage to their backs, a nice cozy, private place to sleep and maybe a few tubes and other neat stuff to play in. I use cloth liners in Emma's cage because she is pretty tidy, but in Stuarts house I use Aspen shavings because he is quite messy. (Do not use pine or cedar shavings!). I supply them both with water bottles and water bowls, they seem to drink primarily out of their bowls even though their previous owners used bottles only. They have 1 dish for the dry cat food and another for fruits, veggies and protein. Another deep birdfood dish hangs from the side and that is where I put the insects that I give them.<br>I have been told STO's are not prone to biting, but can only give my experience in that area. Stuart has nipped me only once and it didn't hurt or break the skin. Emma has never even tried to bite. She doesn't mind being held, usually, but I can tell you that they move lightening fast if they choose to, so you must be very careful when you take them out as they can also jump.<br>Males will "mark".....alot......if they smell a female anywhere in the vicinity, so I keep my male in a totally seperate area of the house. I personally find him to produce a lot more odor then my female, perhaps that is due to the fact that males have more scent glands and or maybe it is due to the fact that he pees on everything in his cage.<br>."
From Laura Mowrey Feb 20 2010 8:38PM
"The Short-Tailed Opossum is a cute and charismatic animal that are not only adorable but full of personality. I love these little fellows. They are super cool and always interesting. They very small and interesting animals. They are a great apartment pet and can be housed very easily in a medium sized terrarium or a rodent cage measuring 90 cm x 45 cm x45 cm. I they are reasonably easy to feed and are not fuzzy at all. They feed well on rodent pellets, nuts, fruit and veggies and it is very important to provide them with a mixed and varied diet. A very unusual species and great small pet.."
From RobWedderburn Feb 4 2016 3:57AM