Marmosa lepidalittle rufous mouse opossum

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)


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


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

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


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


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


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)


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



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

World Map


uses sound to communicate


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.


an animal that mainly eats meat


uses smells or other chemicals to communicate


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.


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


An animal that eats mainly insects or spiders.


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).


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.


active during the night


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.


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


uses touch to communicate


Living on the ground.


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


uses sight to communicate


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.