Marmosa zeledoni

Geographic Range

This species is found in Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Panama, and western Colombia. (Rossi, et al., 2010)


Most specimens of Marmosa zeledoni have been collected in premontane or montane humid forest from 100 m to 2200 m above sea level. (Rossi, et al., 2010)

  • Range elevation
    100 to 2200 m
    328.08 to 7217.85 ft

Physical Description

Like other species of mouse opossums, Marmosa zeledoni 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 rich reddish brown and the ventral fur is yellowish or orangish. Among other diagnostic traits, this species differs from other species of Marmosa by usually lacking postorbital processes and palatine fenestrae. This species is sexually dimorphic (males are larger than females) (Rossi, et al., 2010)

  • Sexual Dimorphism
  • male larger
  • Range mass
    28 to 100 g
    0.99 to 3.52 oz
  • Average mass
    45 (females) 75 (males) g
  • Range length
    119 to 162 mm
    4.69 to 6.38 in
  • Average length
    133 (females) 144 (males) mm


Nothing is known about the mating system of this species.

Almost nothing has been published about reproduction in Marmosa zeledoni, but other species of Marmosa are spontaneous ovulators that give birth to highly altricial young that remain attached to the mother's teats for several weeks (see the account for Marmosa robinsoni). Nine to eleven young were attached to the nipples of two captured females. (Rossi, et al., 2010)

  • Key Reproductive Features
  • gonochoric/gonochoristic/dioecious (sexes separate)
  • sexual
  • viviparous
  • Range number of offspring
    9 to 11

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

  • Parental Investment
  • altricial
  • 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 captivity or in the wild.


Nothing has been recorded about the behavior of Marmosa zeledoni, but other species of Marmosa are nocturnal and arboreal/scansorial.

Home Range

The home range of this species is unknown.

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. Adult males have a gular gland that presumably serves some social scent-marking function. (Rossi, et al., 2010)

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 which are known to be insectivorous and to eat fruit occasionally.

  • Animal Foods
  • insects
  • Plant Foods
  • fruit
  • flowers


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 zeledoni is probably a primary consumer (of fruit and perhaps nectar) and a secondary consumer (of insects); field observations suggest that it visits the inflorescences of some palm species, which it might occasionally pollinate. It is probably eaten by snakes, owls, and carnivorans. 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). (Sperr, et al., 2009)

Economic Importance for Humans: Positive

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

Economic Importance for Humans: Negative

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

Conservation Status

Marmosa zeledoni is widely distributed and much natural habitat still remains in parts of its known geographic range. (Gutierrez, et al., 2010)

Other Comments

Marmosa zeledoni has only recently (since 2010) been recognized as a distinct species. It was previously confused with M. mexicana. Phylogenetic analyses of cytochrome-b sequence data suggest that its closest relatives are M. mexicana and M. isthmica. (Gutierrez, et al., 2010; Rossi, 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


young are born in a relatively underdeveloped state; they are unable to feed or care for themselves or locomote independently for a period of time after birth/hatching. In birds, naked and helpless after hatching.


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.


having the capacity to move from one place to another.


This terrestrial biome includes summits of high mountains, either without vegetation or covered by low, tundra-like vegetation.

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.

scent marks

communicates by producing scents from special gland(s) and placing them on a surface whether others can smell or taste them


remains in the same area


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


uses touch to communicate


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


uses sight to communicate


reproduction in which fertilization and development take place within the female body and the developing embryo derives nourishment from the female.


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.

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.

Sperr, E., E. Fronhofer, M. Tschapka. 2009. The Mexican mouse opossum (Marmosa mexicana) as a flower visitor at a Neotropical palm. Mammalian Biology, 74: 76-80.

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