Strigocuscus celebensislittle Celebes cuscus

Geographic Range

Strigocuscus celebensis occurs exclusively on Sulawesi and surrounding islands. Subspecies of S. celebensis occur throughout this range: S. c. celebensis is found in southern and central Sulawesi, S. c. feileri is found in north Sulawesi, and S. c. sangirensis is found on the Sangihe Islands north of Sulawesi. ("Grzimek's Animal Life Encyclopedia", 2004; Flannery, 1994; Groves, 1987; Ruedas and Morales, 2005)


Strigocuscus celebensis occurs in rainforests and in secondary forests and gardens around human dwellings. ("Grzimek's Animal Life Encyclopedia", 2004; Flannery, 1994; Nowak, 1999)

Physical Description

Little Celebes cuscuses have an overall pale buff coloration, lacking a dorsal stripe, and the tail is partially naked part. They are small possums, weighing 1 kg or less. Head and body length is 294 to 380 mm and tail length is 270 to 373 mm. The rostrum is narrower than other phalangerids, the lachrymal is retracted from the face, the ectotympanic is almost totally excluded from the anterior face of the postglenoid process, and the third upper premolar is set at a more oblique angle relative to the molar row than it is in other phalangerids. Little Celebes cuscuses are also characterized by the large size of the third upper premolar, a widening of the zygomatic arches at the orbits, and short paroccipital processes. ("Grzimek's Animal Life Encyclopedia", 2004; Flannery, 1994; Nowak, 1999)

  • Sexual Dimorphism
  • sexes alike
  • Average mass
    1 kg
    2.20 lb
  • Range length
    294 to 380 mm
    11.57 to 14.96 in


Little Celebes cuscuses are monogamous and occur in pairs. ("Grzimek's Animal Life Encyclopedia", 2004; Flannery, 1994; Nowak, 1999)

Female S. celebensis have a forward-oriented pouch with two to four teats. Little Celebes cuscuses generally produce one to two litters per year, up to three to four young may be born, but only one is usually reared. Gestation is 20 days or less and young are born very small and unfurred. ("Grzimek's Animal Life Encyclopedia", 2004)

  • Breeding interval
    Little Celebes cuscuses generally produce one to two litters per year.
  • Range number of offspring
    1 to 4
  • Average number of offspring
  • Average gestation period
    20 days
  • Range weaning age
    5 to 8 months

Infant S. celebensis exit their mother's pouch between five and eight months after birth, after which they are carried on their mother’s back. ("Grzimek's Animal Life Encyclopedia", 2004)

  • Parental Investment
  • altricial
  • pre-fertilization
    • provisioning
    • protecting
      • female
  • pre-hatching/birth
    • provisioning
      • female
    • protecting
      • female
  • pre-weaning/fledging
    • provisioning
      • female
    • protecting
      • female
  • pre-independence
    • provisioning
      • female
    • protecting
      • female


The lifespan of S. celebensis is unknown. Other species of cuscus are known to live 3 to 11 years in captivity. ("Cuscus", 2006; "Grzimek's Animal Life Encyclopedia", 2004; Flannery, 1994; Nowak, 1999)


Little Celebes cuscuses are nocturnal and arboreal, and have been known to occur in male-female pairs. They are known to sleep in the crowns of coconut palms. Strigocuscus celebensis occurs in sympatry with Sulawesi bear cuscuses (Ailurops ursinus) on the island of Sulawesi and surrounding islands. Males of most cuscus species are aggressive toward one another and cannot be kept together in captivity. ("Grzimek's Animal Life Encyclopedia", 2004; Dwiyahreni, et al., 1999; Flannery, 1994; Nowak, 1999)

Communication and Perception

Little is known about communication in Little Celebes cuscuses. Like most nocturnal mammals they are likely to use chemical cues (smells) and hearing extensively. Cuscuses have large eyes to help them see in low light. ("Grzimek's Animal Life Encyclopedia", 2004; Flannery, 1994; Nowak, 1999)

Food Habits

Little Celebes cuscuses are presumed to be primarily frugivorous, based on their morphology and the diet of other cuscuses. Other species of cuscus include leaves, fruits, flowers, bark, pollen, and fungi in their diets. ("Grzimek's Animal Life Encyclopedia", 2004; "Possums and cuscuses", 2006; Flannery, 1994)

  • Plant Foods
  • leaves
  • roots and tubers
  • wood, bark, or stems
  • seeds, grains, and nuts
  • fruit
  • pollen
  • flowers
  • Other Foods
  • fungus


Little information is known on possible predators of S. celebensis. It is assumed they have a limited number due to their arboreal lifestyle. Other species of cuscus are eaten by humans and New Guinea singing dogs. ("Grzimek's Animal Life Encyclopedia", 2004; "Other Creatures at the Center", 2000; Flannery, 1994)

  • Known Predators
    • humans Homo sapiens
    • New Guinea singing dogs Canis lupus hallstromi

Ecosystem Roles

Because of their frugivorous diet S. celebensis help the ecosystem by dispersing seeds. ("Cuscus", 2006; "Possums and cuscuses", 2006; Dwiyahreni, et al., 1999)

  • Ecosystem Impact
  • disperses seeds
Mutualist Species
  • Ailurops ursinus

Economic Importance for Humans: Positive

Little Celebes cuscuses are an important source of meat for people in New Guinea and are widely hunted. In some areas of Indonesia, such as the Sula Islands in the Western Moluccas, cuscuses are not eaten in accordance with religious beliefs. Little Celebes cuscuses help to disperse fruiting tree seeds. ("Grzimek's Animal Life Encyclopedia", 2004; Flannery, 1994)

  • Positive Impacts
  • food

Economic Importance for Humans: Negative

Little Celebes cuscuses are sometimes considered household pests. They tend to be found in suburban areas and are known to eat plants from gardens and to nest in roofs. ("Grzimek's Animal Life Encyclopedia", 2004; Nowak, 1999; Wikipedia, 2006)

  • Negative Impacts
  • crop pest
  • household pest

Conservation Status

The status of S. celebensis is uncertain. According to IUCN S. celebensis is data deficient, there is not enough information to determine population status. ("Australasian Marsupial & Monotreme Specialist Group 1996. Strigocuscus celebensis. In: IUCN 2006.", 1996)

Other Comments

For a detailed analysis of mitochondrial DNA of S. celebensis see the work of Ruedas and Morales (2005). For a detailed analysis of morphological and skeletal analysis of S. celebensis see the work of Crosby and Norris (2003). For a detailed analysis of museum study skins and skeletons of S. celebensis and its subspecies see the work of Groves (1987). (Crosby and Norris, 2003; Groves, 1987; Ruedas and Morales, 2005)


Tanya Dewey (editor), Animal Diversity Web.

Brittany Moe (author), University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, Chris Yahnke (editor, instructor), University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point.



Living in Australia, New Zealand, Tasmania, New Guinea and associated islands.

World Map


uses sound to communicate


living in landscapes dominated by human agriculture.


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.


uses smells or other chemicals to communicate


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.


A substance that provides both nutrients and energy to a living thing.


forest biomes are dominated by trees, otherwise forest biomes can vary widely in amount of precipitation and seasonality.


an animal that mainly eats fruit


An animal that eats mainly plants or parts of plants.

island endemic

animals that live only on an island or set of islands.


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 one mate at a time.


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.


remains in the same area


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


associates with others of its species; forms social groups.


living in residential areas on the outskirts of large cities or towns.


uses touch to communicate


Living on the ground.


defends an area within the home range, occupied by a single animals or group of animals of the same species and held through overt defense, display, or advertisement


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.

year-round breeding

breeding takes place throughout the year


1996. "Australasian Marsupial & Monotreme Specialist Group 1996. Strigocuscus celebensis. In: IUCN 2006." (On-line). ICUN Red List of Threatened Species. Accessed November 28, 2006 at

2006. "Cuscus" (On-line). Accessed November 29, 2006 at

2004. Grzimek's Animal Life Encyclopedia. Pp. 57-64 in D Kleiman, V Geist, M McDade, eds. Possums and Cuscuses, Vol. 13 / Mammals II, 2nd Edition. Farmington Hills, MI: Gale Group Inc..

2000. "Other Creatures at the Center" (On-line). Wildlife Science Center. Accessed November 29, 2006 at

2006. "Possums and cuscuses" (On-line). Accessed November 29, 2006 at

Crosby, K., C. Norris. 2003. Periodic Morphology in the Trichosurin Possums Strigocuscus celebensis and Wyulda squamicaudata (Diprotodontia, Phalangeridae) and a Revised Diagnosis of the Tribe Trichosurini. American Museum Novitates, 3414: 1-16.

Dwiyahreni, A., M. Kinnard, T. O'Brien, J. Supriatna, N. Andayani. 1999. Diet and Activity of the Bear Cuscus, Ailurops ursinus, in North Sulawesi, Indonesia. Journal of Mammalogy, 80 / 3: 905-912.

Flannery, T. 1994. Possums of the World: A Monograph of the Phalangeroidea. Chatswood, Australia: GEO Productions Pty Ltd.

Groves, C. 1987. Possums and Opossums: Studies in Evolution. Sydney: Surrey Beatty & Sons and the Royal Zoological Society of New South Wales. Accessed November 27, 2006 at

Nowak, R. 1999. Ground Cuscuses. Pp. 91-92 in Walker's Mammals of the World, Vol. 1, Sixth Edition. Baltimore & London: The Johns Hopkins University Press.

Ruedas, L., J. Morales. 2005. Evolutionary Relationships Among Genera of Phalangeridae (Metatheria: Diprotodontia) Inferred from Mitochondrial DNA. Journal of Mammalogy, 86 / 2: 353-365.

Wikipedia, 2006. "Possum" (On-line). Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Accessed November 28, 2006 at