Monodelphis palliolatahooded red-sided opossum

Geographic Range

Hooded red-sided opossums (Monodelphis palliolata) reside in areas along the Caribbean Sea, in northern Venezuela and into northeastern Columbia. Their distribution in northern Venezuela is west of the Orinico river, but not much is known about their distribution in Columbia. There is not a numerical estimate of range size, but their current range may be smaller than their historic one, as their populations are continually declining. (Pavan, et al., 2012; Pérez-Hernandez, et al., 2016)

Habitat

Hooded red-sided opossums primarily live in forests in the South American region of northern Venezuela and northeastern Columbia. They have been found in tropical dry forests, tropical humid forests, premontane and very humid forests, gallery and secondary forests, and plantations. (Pérez-Hernandez, et al., 2016; Ventura, et al., 1998)

  • Range elevation
    0 to 2,500 m
    0.00 to ft

Physical Description

Hooded red-sided opossums are a slightly dimorphic species, where males have a head-body-length of about 152 mm while females are about 127 mm. This species has short grey hair with reddish coloring on their sides back legs. (Pavan, et al., 2012)

Hooded red-sided opossums, along with the rest of the order Didelphimorphia are pentadactyl, with a dental formula of 5/4, 1/1, 3/3, 4/4 = 50. They are polyprotodont and didactylous. Hooded red-sided opossums likely have long prehensile tail and an opposable pollices like most others in the order. (Feldhamer, et al., 2015)

Hooded red-sided opossums were, until recently, considered a subspecies of red-legged, short-tailed opossums (Monodelphis brevicaudata). As not much information has been found on hooded red-sided opossums, much of the missing information for this species account will be supplemented with information known about hooded red-sided opossums, since they are the closest known relatives and therefore the two likely have relatively similar features, behaviors, etc. (Pavan, et al., 2012)

Hooded red-sided opossums have an average body mass of 78.84 g and a basal metabolic rate of 68.14 cm^3/hr. (Jones, et al., 2009)

  • Sexual Dimorphism
  • male larger
  • Average mass
    78.84 g
    2.78 oz
  • Average length
    139.5 mm
    5.49 in
  • Average basal metabolic rate
    68.14 cm3.O2/g/hr

Reproduction

Not much is known about the mating patterns of hooded red-sided opossums. It is possible that they have similar patterns of other species in the family Didelphidae, which are polygynous. (Siciliano Martina, 2013)

This species has a breeding season that occurs from May to August. The onset of fertility of both males and females is around 180 days. Up to 8 offspring have been reported to be born in a single litter, and the average is 7.24. The average number of litters per year for red-legged short-tailed opossums M. brevicaudata is 1.5 and this number may be representative of hooded red-sided opossums as well. Not much is known about the reproduction of hooded red-sided opossums, but since they are marsupials, it can be assumed that gestation is short and that young are fairly underdeveloped at birth, followed by a long lactation period. Gestation periods of species in the family Didelphidae are usually less than 2 weeks and neonates weigh about 0.1 g. After they are born, lactation and weaning periods range from a couple months to a year. Similar to all marsupials, reproduction of this species is timed so that young leave the pouch at times when resources are optimal. (Feldhamer, et al., 2015; Jones, et al., 2009; Pérez-Hernandez, et al., 2016)

  • Key Reproductive Features
  • gonochoric/gonochoristic/dioecious (sexes separate)
  • sexual
  • viviparous
  • Breeding interval
    Hooded red-sided opossums may have 1.5 litters each year, similar to red-legged short-tailed opossums.
  • Breeding season
    May to August
  • Range number of offspring
    8 (high)
  • Average number of offspring
    7.24
  • Range gestation period
    2 (high) weeks
  • Range weaning age
    2 to 12 months
  • Average age at sexual or reproductive maturity (female)
    180 days
  • Average age at sexual or reproductive maturity (male)
    180 days

Not much is known about parental investment in hooded red-sided opossums. They, along with all other marsupials, have short gestation periods and long lactation periods. Mothers provision offspring with milk and protection after birth and before weaning. Many male individuals of the family Didelphidae are semelparous and die soon after breeding for the first time, so this may be a characteristic of male hooded red-sided opossums, and they would therefore lack paternal investment. (Feldhamer, et al., 2015)

Lifespan/Longevity

There is no data on the lifespan of hooded red-sided opossums. Though it has been found that maximum longevity of red-legged short-tailed opossums is 3.9 years. (Tacutu, et al., 2017)

  • Average lifespan
    Status: captivity
    3.9 years

Behavior

Not much is known about the behavior of hooded red-sided opossums. They are terrestrial, semi-arboreal, and crepuscular. Species in the family Didelphidae are generally solitary. (Feldhamer, et al., 2015; Pérez-Hernandez, et al., 2016)

Home Range

Information is not known about home ranges for hooded red-sided opossums.

Communication and Perception

Red-legged short-tailed opossums have been reported to have tactile and chemical perception channels and hooded red-sided opossums may share these characteristics. It is assumed that their vision allows for some extent of sight in the dark, as they are crepuscular creatures. Vocalizations of red-legged short-tailed opossums have not been reported but may occur. (Mandavia, 2004)

Food Habits

Dietary information on hooded red-sided opossums is unknown. Most species in the family Didelphidae are opportunistic feeders, with a diet dependent upon seasonal forage availability. Hooded red-sided opossums may have a diet similar to red-legged short-tailed opossums, which are known to have a diet that consists of seeds, shoots, and fruit. Their diet also consists of spiders and insects such as cockroaches and crickets, as well as carrion and some small rodents. (Feldhamer, et al., 2015; Whitfield, 1998)

  • Animal Foods
  • mammals
  • carrion
  • insects
  • terrestrial non-insect arthropods
  • Plant Foods
  • fruit

Predation

There is no published data on predators of hooded red-sided opossums. Though opossums in general are prey for the many predators within their habitats, which may include felids (family Felidae), canids (family Canidae), snakes (suborder Serpentes), and birds of prey. (Siciliano Martina, 2013)

  • Known Predators
    • canids, felids, snakes, and birds of prey

Ecosystem Roles

Hooded red-sided opossums may regulate levels of certain species upon which they prey. They may also influence the population sizes of their natural predators. Because hooded red-sided opossums feed on fruits and seeds, they may provide a role in seed dispersal. They also feed on decaying flesh and help with decomposition in that way. (Whitfield, 1998)

Economic Importance for Humans: Positive

There are no known positive effects of hooded red-sided opossums on humans.

Economic Importance for Humans: Negative

Humans may benefit from logging and deforestation in the lower elevations of the range of hooded red-sided opossums, outside of their protected areas. If conservation concerns and actions of this species increase, this may pose a threat to the forestry business in the region. They have also been seen in cultivated areas and may interfere with cultivation. (Pérez-Hernandez, et al., 2016)

Conservation Status

Hooded red-sided opossums have a population that is continually declining. They are found in multiple protected areas. They are currently listed as a species of "Least Concern", due to their wide distribution and occurrence in several protected areas. Hooded red-sided opossums also are believed to have large populations and are tolerant to some degree of environmental modification. It is unlikely that their populations are declining at the rate required to qualify them as "Threatened".

https://www.iucnredlist.org/species/136516/22172033#population (Pérez-Hernandez, et al., 2016)

Contributors

Kaitlin Huo (author), University of Washington, Laura Prugh (editor), University of Washington, Galen Burrell (editor).

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

agricultural

living in landscapes dominated by human agriculture.

altricial

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.

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.

biodegradation

helps break down and decompose dead plants and/or animals

carnivore

an animal that mainly eats meat

carrion

flesh of dead animals.

chemical

uses smells or other chemicals to communicate

coastal

the nearshore aquatic habitats near a coast, or shoreline.

crepuscular

active at dawn and dusk

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

forest

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

frugivore

an animal that mainly eats fruit

granivore

an animal that mainly eats seeds

herbivore

An animal that eats mainly plants or parts of plants.

insectivore

An animal that eats mainly insects or spiders.

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.

omnivore

an animal that mainly eats all kinds of things, including plants and animals

polygynous

having more than one female as a mate at one time

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.

scavenger

an animal that mainly eats dead animals

scrub forest

scrub forests develop in areas that experience dry seasons.

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.

tropical savanna and grassland

A terrestrial biome. Savannas are grasslands with scattered individual trees that do not form a closed canopy. Extensive savannas are found in parts of subtropical and tropical Africa and South America, and in Australia.

savanna

A grassland with scattered trees or scattered clumps of trees, a type of community intermediate between grassland and forest. See also Tropical savanna and grassland biome.

temperate grassland

A terrestrial biome found in temperate latitudes (>23.5° N or S latitude). Vegetation is made up mostly of grasses, the height and species diversity of which depend largely on the amount of moisture available. Fire and grazing are important in the long-term maintenance of grasslands.

visual

uses sight to communicate

viviparous

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

References

2018. "Short Bare Tailed Opossum Monodelphis brevicaudata (Erxleben 1777)" (On-line). The Encyclopedia of Life. Accessed June 02, 2019 at https://eol.org/pages/1039320/data.

Feldhamer, G., L. Drickhamer, S. Vessey, J. Merritt, C. Krajewski. 2015. Mammalogy. Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press.

Jones, K., J. Bielby, M. Cardillo, S. Fritz, J. O'Dell. 2009. "PanTHERIA: a species-level database of life history, ecology, and geography of extant and recently extinct mammals" (On-line). Accessed June 02, 2019 at https://eol.org/pages/1039320/data.

Mandavia, A. 2004. "Monodelphis brevicaudata" (On-line). Animal Diversity Web. Accessed June 02, 2019 at https://animaldiversity.org/accounts/Monodelphis_brevicaudata/#b186848f01f213b087bfdf2acddf45c1.

Pavan, S., R. Rossi, H. Schneider. 2012. Species diversity in the Monodelphis brevicaudata complex (Didelphimorphia: Didelphidae) inferred from molecular and morphological data, with the description of a new species. Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society, Volume 165, Issue 1: 190-223. Accessed June 02, 2019 at https://academic.oup.com/zoolinnean/article-lookup/doi/10.1111/j.1096-3642.2011.00791.x.

Pérez-Hernandez, R., J. Ventura, M. López Fuster. 2016. "Hooded Red-sided Opossum" (On-line). The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Accessed June 02, 2019 at https://www.iucnredlist.org/species/136516/4303433.

Siciliano Martina, L. 2013. "Didelphidae" (On-line). Animal Diversity Web. Accessed June 02, 2019 at https://animaldiversity.org/accounts/Didelphidae/#E80E8A99-E9A2-11E2-832F-002500F14F28.

Tacutu, R., D. Thornton, E. Johnson, A. Budovsky, D. Barardo. 2017. "AnAge entry for Monodelphis brevicaudata" (On-line). Human Ageing Genomic Resources: new and updated databases. Accessed June 02, 2019 at http://genomics.senescence.info/species/entry.php?species=Monodelphis_brevicaudata.

Ventura, J., R. Pérez-Hernández, M. López-Fuster. 1998. Morphometric Assessment of the Monodelphis brevicaudata Group (Didelphimorphia: Didelphidae) in Venezuela. Journal of Mammalogy, Volume 79, Issue 1: 104-117. Accessed June 02, 2019 at https://academic.oup.com/jmammal/article/79/1/104/841850.

Whitfield, P. 1998. The Simon & Schuster Encyclopedia of Animals. New York: Marshall Editions Development Limited. Accessed June 04, 2019 at https://eol.org/pages/1039320/articles#cite_note-Whitfield-5.