Short-Tailed Opossum

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Is this exotic mammal right for you?

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

The basics:
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

Helpful Species Review

Short-Tailed Opossum

From Feb 20 2010 8:38PM


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