Shrewish Short-tailed Opossum (Monodelphis sorex)

Brazilian Short-tailed Opossum

ith their inquisitive nature and unique characteristics, the Shrewish Short-tailed Opossum is sure to captivate anyone who meets them. In this post, we’ll take a closer look at these amazing creatures, including their physical characteristics, behavior, and care requirements.

Short-tailed OpossumThe Shrewish Short-tailed Opossum was discovered by Hensel in 1872. It inhabits Brazil, Argentina, and Paraguay. It is currently (2003) listed as a vulnerable species.

Very few reportings of this particular opossum species have been uncovered. It is from the Monodelphis family of Opossum. Opossums belonging to this family are Short-tailed Opossums. These possums are usually found on the ground but have great climbing ability. They are native to South America.

Measuring only around 10 centimeters in length, the shrewish short-tailed opossum is often mistaken for a rodent due to its size and appearance. However, its classification as a marsupial sets it apart from its rodent counterparts. This fascinating creature possesses a sleek, slender body covered in soft, velvety fur, which ranges in color from shades of gray to brown. Its large, round eyes glisten with curiosity, and its tiny, delicate paws are perfectly adapted for navigating its forest habitat.

They are also known as the Southern Red-Sided Opossum. It is rare to find this particular species of Opossum, and thus very little research has been carried out.

Physical characteristics and unique adaptations

Measuring around 4 to 6 inches in length, the shrewish short-tailed opossum has a compact and slender body. Its fur is dense and velvety, ranging in color from gray to brown, with some individuals exhibiting a creamy underbelly. One striking physical trait is its elongated snout, which aids in its foraging activities and enables it to navigate through narrow burrows or crevices with ease.

One of the most unique adaptations of the shrewish short-tailed opossum lies in its ability to enter a state of torpor. In times of food scarcity or extreme temperatures, this remarkable creature can reduce its metabolic rate and lower its body temperature significantly, conserving energy until better conditions prevail. This adaptive mechanism allows the opossum to survive in diverse habitats, ranging from tropical rainforests to arid regions.

Furthermore, the shrewish short-tailed opossum possesses a prehensile tail, which acts as a multifunctional tool. It assists in maintaining balance while climbing or leaping between branches, provides stability during exploratory movements, and even serves as a tool for grasping objects or securing nesting materials.

Another intriguing adaptation of this species is its dental formula, which includes sharp incisors and molars designed for crushing and grinding a variety of food sources. From insects and small invertebrates to fruits and seeds, the shrewish short-tailed opossum showcases remarkable dietary flexibility, allowing it to adapt to different environments and food availability.

Natural habitat

Found primarily in the tropical and subtropical forests of Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay, and Uruguay, the Shrewish Short-tailed Opossum thrives in diverse ecosystems ranging from dense rainforests to savannah grasslands. These versatile creatures have adapted to a wide range of environments, allowing them to successfully survive and reproduce in different settings.

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Within their natural habitat, these small marsupials typically make their homes in burrows, tree hollows, or dense vegetation. Their ability to adapt to various shelter options ensures their safety from predators and provides a suitable environment for raising their young. It is fascinating to observe how these creatures utilize their surroundings to create safe and secure nesting sites.

Geographically, the Shrewish Short-tailed Opossum can be found across a broad range, spanning from the eastern regions of Bolivia and Peru to the southern regions of Brazil and Uruguay. This distribution allows them to occupy a variety of ecosystems, each with its own unique characteristics and challenges.

From the lush Amazon rainforest to the vast grasslands of the Pampas, these opossums have adapted to thrive in diverse climates and terrains. Their ability to navigate through different environments showcases their resilience and resourcefulness as they forage for food and seek shelter.

Diet and feeding habits

In their natural habitat, these opossums primarily feed on insects, small invertebrates, and even small vertebrates such as lizards and mice. Their sharp teeth and agile movements enable them to capture and consume their prey with remarkable precision.

However, their diet is not solely reliant on animal protein. These resourceful creatures also incorporate fruits, seeds, and nectar into their feeding routine. This versatility in their diet allows them to thrive in various environments, as they can adapt to the available food sources in their surroundings.

Interestingly, the Shrewish Short-tailed Opossum possesses a high metabolic rate, requiring them to consume a substantial amount of food to sustain their energy levels. Due to their small size, they possess the ability to consume food equivalent to their body weight in a single night.

In captivity, it is essential to provide a well-balanced diet that mimics their natural feeding patterns. A combination of high-quality commercial diets, supplemented with live insects, fruits, and vegetables, will ensure their nutritional needs are met.

Behaviors and social interactions

One notable behavior of the shrewish short-tailed opossum is their nocturnal nature. Being primarily active during the night, they have adapted to a lifestyle that allows them to thrive in low-light conditions. This behavior helps them avoid predators and maximizes their chances of finding food and mates.

In terms of social interactions, shrewish short-tailed opossums are known to be solitary creatures. They prefer to live alone and establish their own territories, which they mark with scent glands to communicate their presence and boundaries to other individuals. However, during the breeding season, males may engage in aggressive encounters with one another to compete for the attention of females.

Another fascinating behavior displayed by these opossums is their ability to enter a state of torpor. When resources are scarce or environmental conditions become unfavorable, they can lower their metabolic rate and enter a dormant state to conserve energy. This remarkable adaptation allows them to survive periods of food scarcity and harsh weather conditions.

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Shrewish short-tailed opossums exhibit a range of communication techniques. They can vocalize using various sounds, including clicks, squeaks, and chirps, to express different emotions or convey warnings. Additionally, they use body language, such as posturing and tail movements, to communicate with other individuals.

Interesting facts about Brazilian Short-tailed Opossum

The Shrewish Short-tailed Opossum is a truly fascinating creature with a unique set of characteristics and behaviors. Here are some interesting facts and trivia about this remarkable marsupial:

  • Size and Appearance: The Shrewish Short-tailed Opossum is a small mammal, measuring around 4 to 6 inches in length. It has a distinctive elongated snout, tiny eyes, and a short, hairless tail. Its fur color varies from gray to brown, allowing it to blend seamlessly with its natural environment.
  • Nocturnal Nature: Like many other small mammals, the Shrewish Short-tailed Opossum is primarily nocturnal. It is most active during the night, using its keen sense of smell and exceptional hearing to navigate its surroundings and locate food.
  • Unique Diet: These opossums have an omnivorous diet, feeding on a variety of food sources. Their diet mainly consists of insects, small invertebrates, fruits, seeds, and nectar. Their sharp teeth and strong jaws enable them to consume a wide range of food items.
  • Reproduction: The Shrewish Short-tailed Opossum is a marsupial, meaning it carries its young in a pouch. The female opossum has a gestation period of around 12 to 14 days before giving birth to tiny, underdeveloped joeys. The joeys then crawl into the mother’s pouch, where they continue to grow and develop until they are fully mature.
  • Excellent Climbers: Despite their small size, Shrewish Short-tailed Opossums are skilled climbers. They have sharp claws and a prehensile tail, which assists them in climbing trees and branches with ease. Their ability to maneuver in various environments helps them find food and escape potential predators.
  • Lifespan: In captivity, Shrewish Short-tailed Opossums can live for approximately 2 to 4 years. However, in the wild, their lifespan may be shorter due to predation, disease, and other environmental factors.
  • Unique Defense Mechanism: When threatened or startled, these opossums have a fascinating defense mechanism. They can emit a musky odor from scent glands located near their tail, which acts as a deterrent to potential predators.


We hope you enjoyed our exploration of the fascinating world of the Shrewish Short-tailed Opossum. These small, nocturnal creatures may not be well-known, but they have a wealth of interesting traits and behaviors that make them truly captivating. From their unique physical characteristics to their impressive survival skills, the Shrewish Short-tailed Opossum is a truly remarkable creature worth learning about. We hope this blog post has deepened your appreciation for these remarkable animals and sparked a desire to continue exploring the wonders of the natural world around us.

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