Also known as the Brazilian Opossum, Gray short-tailed opossums are found throughout Brazil south of the Amazon River, as well as eastern Bolivia, northern Paraguay, and a small section of northern Argentina. The short-tailed opossum gets its scientific species name “domestica” due to its reputation for entering human residences.
Short-tailed opossums are omnivores that eat small rodents, reptiles, amphibians, insects, and fruits. Short-tailed opossums are fast and have incredibly sharp teeth that allow them to take down prey their own size.
Awesome Opossum Facts!
Gray short-tailed opossums don’t have true pouches like most other marsupials
The gray short-tailed opossum was the first marsupial to have its genome sequenced
The word “opossum” is from the Powhatan language, although nowadays, you will often find people simply referring to opossums as “possums”
The oldest opossum fossils are 20 million years old
Meet the Minuscule Short-Tailed Opossum
If you are from the United States or Canada, you might not know there is more than one type of opossum. In fact, there are actually over 120 species of opossum, and short-tailed opossums are one of them!
Short-tailed opossums are nocturnal animals that are similar in size and shape to voles. Unlike the Virginia opossum which has a fully prehensile tail, the short-tailed opossum’s tail is only partially prehensile. Additionally, short-tailed opossums lack pouches! Short-tailed opossums do, however, have retractable teats.
Short-tailed opossums take shelter in nests they construct themselves. Female short-tailed opossums are known to create intricately woven nests. The gestation period of a short-tailed opossum is 14 to 15 days. Once the babies are born, they crawl onto their mother’s stomach and and attach to a teat until they are weaned. Because short-tailed opossums don’t have pouches like the Virginia Opossum, their young are weaned much earlier. Short-tailed opossums are, on average, weaned at 3 weeks. Virginia opossums, on the other hand, are weaned at 2 and a half months.