Keeping Your New Short-Tail Opossum
Aqualand
comments on Monodelphis domestica

 

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Short-Tail possum Factoids

Origin

Brazil, Paraguay, and Bolivia

Maximum Size

4 to 6 inches plus tail

Breeding Age

Five to six months (for about five years)

Work Schedule Night shift

Gestation Period

12 days

Age at weaning

8 weeks

Litter Size

Four to 16 Joeys

Life Span

8 years

Housing

10-gallon tank with secure cover minimum

Litter Box

Put in corner

Security

Needs a hiding box   Sleeps days.

Attitude

Tames easily.  Fights other possums.

Foods

Insects, spiders, rodents, fruit, boiled egg

Water

Water bottle works best – but careful


LA Pic
Short-tail opossum exploring his possibilities.

LA
Another little guy just awakened.


Origin.  Original breeder short-tail opossums came from Brazil.  All come from the U.S. these days.  In Brazil many people appreciate their bug and rodent elimination abilities – a valuable trait in a tropical climate.  Here we keep them for their cute factor.

LA
Baby U.S. opossum.  Stinky, bitey, unkempt, kinda cute but gets way larger.

LA
Cute at this size but grows out of it and gets stinkier.

LA
North American 'possums don't make good pets (or stew).

LA
Short-tail opossums hang on with their tails but do not hang by their tails.

 

Size.  Most short-tail opossums grow about six inches long (pocket-size) plus a four to six-inch tail.  However, unlike our big, stinky U.S.opossums, they don’t hang by their tail.

LA 
Friendly except when they first wake up -- opossums are like hamsters and middle schoolers.

Cute.  Their great big black eyes give short-tail opossums a cute face and enable them to see in the dark.  Obviously, these guys work the night shift. 

Marsupials.  Their pointed nose makes them look different from a rodent (which they are not).  Short-tail opossums belong to the marsupial group, although they have no pouch.  

LA

Nice Personality.  Just a bit stand-offish at first, these little guys tame fast.  Once they realize you don’t plan to eat them, you’re half way there.  Coaxing them to eat from your fingers completes the process.

Temperature Needs.  Room temperature works fine if you keep your room at 70 to 80o.  Their nesting box helps them keep warm while sleeping.  

LA
A small box or bird nest gives your short-tail opossum extra security.

Housing.  Ten-gallon tanks with clip locks give you excellent access and will keep these escape artists securely caged. You’ll want to give him lots of climbing branches. Add a bird box or nest for sleeping quarters.  Put a very small litter box in one corner.  And add a water bottle plus food bowls.

Bird Cage.  If you keep your short-tail opossum in a bird cage, make sure you lock all the doors.  They get out easily.  Best thing about bird cages:  You can hang all kinds of food bowls, nests, and water bottles on the wires and thus keep them cleaner.  Use a cage with a big door so you have easy access.

LA Pic
Short-tail opossum nap time -- all day


Lighting Needs
.  Nocturnal short-tail opossums could care less about lights.  

LA
Dwarf hedgehog food makes an excellent staple diet.  They like grapes, also.

LA
Here's a gal enjoying some ZuPreem fruit-flavored parakeet pellets.

LA
Of course, she'd rather have a super worm.

LA
Superworms really hit the spot. with short-tail opossums.

LA

LA
Munching on a Madagascar hissing cockroach.

 

Foods.  Insectivores, rodent, and fruit eaters in the wild, you’ll need to give yours a varied diet.  Start with a good cat, ferret or hedgehog food.  Dry foods last a long time unless they get wet.  Your possum will appreciate occasional fruit bits and bites of boiled eggs.  They really love mealworms and crickets.  Feed these to them by hand.  Insects make them appreciate you all the more. Several types of canned insects can also be found.  Vary their diet a lot.

Other Foods.  Small amounts of any jarred baby food fruit or yogurt also appeal to short-tail opossums.  Share your grapes with them.

Vitamins.  Give them a good vitamin/calcium supplement. The lizard or bird products work well.    Lightly dust the supplement on their crickets.  A half pinch of supplement in the crickets’ plastic bag will suffice. Better to prevent nutritional deficiency than try to cure it.

Water Problem.  Water bottles work best in most cases.  They keep your critters from kicking trash into their water and making a mess.  However, young possums can’t always work a water bottle.  And since dehydration will kill them, you probably want to give them a dish of applesauce to make sure they get enough water.  

Incredibly Fast.  Your short-tail opossum will slowly investigate his cage.  Then once he gets used to you, he’ll even stop running from you if you slip your palm under him instead of grabbing him like a hungry hawk.  Don’t be fooled.  These guys can move fast when motivated.  Just watch them chase a cricket.  And watch how fast they grab a bug out of your fingers.  You won’t believe it.  

LA
Small North American 'possums are sorta cute but they grow larger.

LA
Also, don't try to work with a large North American 'possum.  They are nasty.

LA
On the other hand, the short-tail opossums are little sweeties.

LA
With very long tongues.

LA
Work with your opossum every day and she'll get friendlier every day.

Tips.  Start taming your new short-tail opossum as soon as you get him or her.  Finger-fed crickets or mealworms will please them every time.  LA.

© 2003, © 2006, © 2007  LA Productions

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