Marmosa lepidalittle rufous mouse opossum

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Geographic Range

Marmosa lepida is found in the Guianas; southern Venezuela; eastern Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, and Bolivia; and in Amazonian Brazil. (Creighton and Gardner, 2007; Ochoa, et al., 2009)

Habitat

All known capture localities of this species are in lowland Amazonian rainforest. (Creighton and Gardner, 2007; Ochoa, et al., 2009)

  • Range elevation
    0 to 600 m
    0.00 to 1968.50 ft

Physical Description

Like other species of mouse opossums, Marmosa lepida is a small, pouchless marsupial with large, membranous ears; prominent eyes; a mask of dark fur surrounding the eyes; and a long, slender, prehensile tail. The dorsal fur is reddish and the ventral fur is whitish. Among other diagnostic traits, this species differs from other species of Marmosa by its small size, long rostral premaxillary process, absence of palatine fenestrae, and large postorbital processes. Few adult specimens are known, so the measurement minima and maxima provided do not represent the full range of morphometric variation in this species. It is not known whether this species is sexually dimorphic or not, but in most congeners males average larger than females. (Rossi, et al., 2010)

  • Range mass
    18 to 42 g
    0.63 to 1.48 oz
  • Range length
    88 to 120 mm
    3.46 to 4.72 in

Reproduction

Nothing is known about the mating system of this species.

Nothing has been published about reproduction in Marmosa lepida, but other species of Marmosa are spontaneous ovulators that give birth to highly altricial young after a short gestation. According to Tate (1933), females have seven mammae. (Rossi, et al., 2010; Tate, 1933)

  • Key Reproductive Features
  • iteroparous
  • gonochoric/gonochoristic/dioecious (sexes separate)
  • sexual
  • Average number of offspring
    7

Females presumably nurse neonatal young, groom them, and protect them from predators, but other forms of parental investment are unknown. ()

  • Parental Investment
  • female parental care
  • pre-fertilization
    • provisioning
    • protecting
      • female
  • pre-hatching/birth
    • provisioning
      • female
    • protecting
      • female
  • pre-weaning/fledging
    • provisioning
      • female
    • protecting
      • female

Lifespan/Longevity

Nothing is known about the longevity of this species in the wild or in captivity.

Behavior

Nothing has been recorded about the behavior of Marmosa lepida, but other species of Marmosa are nocturnal, arboreal/scansorial, and solitary. (Tate, 1933)

Home Range

Nothing is known about the home range of this species.

Communication and Perception

The eyes, ears, nasal turbinates (thin bones that support olfactory epithelium), and tactile hairs are well developed in this species (as in other opossums), so vision, hearing, and touch are probably important senses. ()

Food Habits

No definite information is currently available about the food habits of this species, but its dentition is similar to that of other species of Marmosa that are known to be insectivorous and to eat fruit occasionally. (Tate, 1933)

  • Animal Foods
  • insects
  • Plant Foods
  • fruit

Predation

Nothing seems to be known about the natural predators of this species, but they probably include snakes, owls, and wild felids. ()

  • Anti-predator Adaptations
  • cryptic

Ecosystem Roles

Marmosa lepida is probably a primary consumer (of fruit) and a secondary consumer (of insects). It is probably eaten by snakes, owls, and carnivorans; and it is certainly host to many species of invertebrate ecto- and endo-parasites. Probable ectoparasites include species of Arachnida (Acari: mites) and Insecta (Siphonaptera: fleas). Probable endoparasites include species of Acanthocephala (spiny-headed worms), Cestoda (tapeworms), Digenea (flukes), and Nematoda (roundworms). (Tate, 1933)

Economic Importance for Humans: Positive

It is unlikely that this species is of any positive economic importance.

Economic Importance for Humans: Negative

There are no known adverse effects of Marmosa lepida on humans.

Conservation Status

Marmosa lepida is very widely distributed across one of the largest remaining wilderness areas on the planet. Therefore, its apparent rarity is due to elusive behavior, not numerical scarcity. (Creighton and Gardner, 2007; Ochoa, et al., 2009)

Other Comments

The phylogenetic relationships of this species are still not well understood. (Gutierrez, et al., 2010)

Contributors

Robert Voss (author), American Museum of Natural History, Sharon Jansa (editor), American Museum of Natural History, Alexa Unruh (editor), Animal Diversity Web Staff.

Glossary

Neotropical

living in the southern part of the New World. In other words, Central and South America.

World Map

acoustic

uses sound to communicate

arboreal

Referring to an animal that lives in trees; tree-climbing.

bilateral symmetry

having body symmetry such that the animal can be divided in one plane into two mirror-image halves. Animals with bilateral symmetry have dorsal and ventral sides, as well as anterior and posterior ends. Synapomorphy of the Bilateria.

carnivore

an animal that mainly eats meat

chemical

uses smells or other chemicals to communicate

cryptic

having markings, coloration, shapes, or other features that cause an animal to be camouflaged in its natural environment; being difficult to see or otherwise detect.

endothermic

animals that use metabolically generated heat to regulate body temperature independently of ambient temperature. Endothermy is a synapomorphy of the Mammalia, although it may have arisen in a (now extinct) synapsid ancestor; the fossil record does not distinguish these possibilities. Convergent in birds.

female parental care

parental care is carried out by females

insectivore

An animal that eats mainly insects or spiders.

iteroparous

offspring are produced in more than one group (litters, clutches, etc.) and across multiple seasons (or other periods hospitable to reproduction). Iteroparous animals must, by definition, survive over multiple seasons (or periodic condition changes).

motile

having the capacity to move from one place to another.

native range

the area in which the animal is naturally found, the region in which it is endemic.

nocturnal

active during the night

rainforest

rainforests, both temperate and tropical, are dominated by trees often forming a closed canopy with little light reaching the ground. Epiphytes and climbing plants are also abundant. Precipitation is typically not limiting, but may be somewhat seasonal.

sexual

reproduction that includes combining the genetic contribution of two individuals, a male and a female

tactile

uses touch to communicate

terrestrial

Living on the ground.

tropical

the region of the earth that surrounds the equator, from 23.5 degrees north to 23.5 degrees south.

visual

uses sight to communicate

References

Creighton, G., A. Gardner. 2007. Genus Marmosa Gray, 1821. Pp. 51-61 in A Gardner, ed. Mammals of South America, Vol. 1 (Marsupials, Xenarthrans, Shrews, and Bats. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Gutierrez, E., S. Jansa, R. Voss. 2010. Molecular systematics of mouse opossums (Didelphidae: Marmosa): assessing species limits using mitochondrial DNA sequences, with comments on phylogenetic relationships and biogeography. American Museum Novitates, 3692: 1-22.

Ochoa, J., F. Garcia, S. Caura, J. Sanchez. 2009. Mamiferos de la cuenca del rio Caura, Venezuela: listado taxonomico y distribucion conocida. Memoria de la Fundacion La Salle de Ciencias Naturales, 170: 5-80.

Rossi, R., R. Voss, D. Lunde. 2010. A revision of the didelphid marsupial genus Marmosa. Part 1. The species in Tate's 'mexicana' and 'mitis' sections and other closely related forms. Bulletin of the American Museum of Natural History, 334: 1-81.

Tate, G. 1933. A systematic revision of the marsupial genus Marmosa. Bulletin of the American Museum of Natural History, 66: 1-250.