Reproduction in the Gray Short-Tailed Opossum, Monodelphis domestica

  • H. D. M. Moore


The gray short-tailed opossum, Monodelphis domestica, is a member of the Didelphidae family of opossums. These animals are of particular interest because they are the most ancient family of marsupials known and may represent the ancestors of all extant species in both the New World and Australia (Richardson 1988). However, this does not necessarily mean that they are a relic species, for the 60 American opossums have radiated to successfully fill a variety of habitat niches (Hunsaker 1977). The genus Monodelphis is composed of 11 species distributed from eastern Panama to central Argentina. Monodelphis domestica is a small nocturnal opossum found mainly in eastern and central Brazil and is thought to have a solitary, semi-arboreal lifestyle, using its partially prehensile tail for climbing. It builds nests in hollow logs and, as its name implies, may move into households where it is encouraged to feed on rodent and insect pests (Collins 1973). In the wild, M. domestica breeds throughout the year producing litters of 8 to 14 offspring. Females do not have a pouch but, in common with other marsupials, produce extremely altricial neonates (Tyndale-Biscoe and Renfree 1987).


Urogenital Sinus Monodelphis Domestica Isthmus Region Behavioral Estrus Didelphis Virginiana 
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© Springer-Verlag New York, Inc. 1992

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  • H. D. M. Moore

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