Short-tailed opossums have gained a lot of popularity in the recent past. They make a wonderful pet even for beginners. Often confused with rodents, these opossums are actually marsupials. They can be found in Brazil and other neighboring countries in northern South America. They are very active and love to play around. These little pets can also be trained by their owners. They must be socialized well from the beginning so that they don’t feel uncomfortable or scared. When they are comfortable with the people around them, it’s a pleasure to watch them play. They are truly entertaining creatures.
In addition to that, short-tailed opossums are quite docile and friendly. One can also assume this from their cute and catchy appearance. Both male and female opossums are similar when it comes to their temperament. Even when they feel there is a potential threat, they are not usually the ones to attack. It is rare that they end up biting someone. Basically, they are not harmful at all. However, children below the age of 10 should still be kept away. The older children can play with them but supervision from an adult is recommended in the beginning. Although they are easy to handle, prior knowledge is essential. For all the important information, the owners can refer to this guide.
Distinctive Features of Short-Tailed Opossum
|Scientific Name||Monodelphis domestica|
|Lifespan||Up to 8 years|
|Color||Gray or brown with a white underbelly|
|Cage Size||Minimum 20 gallons|
|Diet||Omnivorous (insects, fruits, vegetables)|
|Exercise||Needs a wheel or ample space for exploring|
|Unique Trait||Prehensile tail for climbing|
|Famous For||Being an unusual exotic pet|
|Temperament||Generally solitary and nocturnal|
|Behavior||Not recommended for young children|
|Personality||Curious, active at night|
Short-tailed opossums have an appearance somewhat similar to a rat. They have a grey-brown coat of hair covering their thin skin. It is further accompanied by large ears and sharp teeth. Apart from how they look, there are various other features that make them different from the rest. However, before leading the discussion to the same, here’s a quick guide to help the readers know all the basic information about a short-tailed opossum.
Apart from all the basic characteristics enlisted in the table above, here are some other features that would give the owners better insight into the life of their short-tailed opossum. These are not only interesting and informative but may also help in taking better care of the pet.
- They have large eyes that provide them with extra vision at night. Also, they have large ears that make these short-tailed opossums sensitive to sound.
- Short-tailed opossums are known to have prehensile tails which makes them capable of grasping different types of objects. They can also be seen wrapping themselves around things.
- These usually friendly pet mammals can get aggressive with their own species. If they are kept together, they will not only end up fighting but may also kill each other in the process. Hence, they are always kept alone.
- Unlike most other marsupials, they don't have a pouch to keep the younger ones. However, the newborns are a bit helpless as children and hold onto a nipple present on the abdomen of their mothers. They stay there until they grow.
- Opossums have yet another interesting trait. Whenever they are threatened or feel scared by any person or animal, they tend to act as if they are dead. Instead of attacking, they prefer to go on defensive mode.
How to Take Care of a Pet Short-Tailed Opossum?
One of the major reasons why short-tailed opossums make a good pet is because they are quite easy to care for. As mentioned in the beginning, they are suitable for beginners as well. They don’t have a large number of requirements. Also, they are quite healthy and tough. If the owners can provide them with the basic necessities like proper shelter and adequate diet, they will be happy enough. There is a detailed discussion about both of these factors in the upcoming sections. Happy reading!
How to Setup a House for a Pet Short-Tailed Opossum?
Short-tailed opossums can either be kept in an aquarium of minimum 20 gallons or in a cage made up of mesh wire. They are sensitive to cold and hence proper measures should be taken for the same. The temperature should always be between 70 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit. Proper bedding should be provided to these little pets. A small box, nest, or plastic tub should also be kept inside the cage. It can either be handmade or purchased from the market. However, it is important that the edges should be smooth or it may cause physical injuries to these marsupials.
Their nest or box should be covered with tissues or paper. Wooden branches should also be added for them to climb and hang. Importantly, the branch should be free from any pesticides. Or else, it may impact the health of the opossum. Toys, ladders and other things that are used for birds to play will also be a good addition. It will keep the pet engaged and happy, especially if it is going to spend most of its time inside the shelter. A solid-surface hamster wheel is also recommended. Apart from staying engaged, it will also provide them with sufficient physical exercise.
When it comes to cleanliness, most short-tailed opossums are a blessing. They like to keep themselves and their surroundings clean. In most cases, they will choose only one specific corner to use as their potty space. The owners may put a pan or something similar at the place. This makes it very easy for them to clean it. Moreover, these opossums are usually free of any smell. Even though males have some odor, it mostly goes unnoticed. So, it won't make the surroundings smell bad. It is recommended to thoroughly clean the cage or aquarium once a week.
What to Feed a Pet Short-Tailed Opossum?
Short-tailed opossums are omnivores and tend to eat various kinds of food. The owners can feed them the standard food available in the market and especially for short-tailed opossums. However, there's a possibility that it may not be available everywhere. In that case, a normal insectivore diet available in the market will do. Apart from commercial diets, one may offer them crickets, mealworms, boiled eggs, etc. In addition, freshly cut vegetables and fruits should also be provided. Whatever combination is made, it should be ensured that their diet is rich in protein and low in fat.
Furthermore, additional supplements can be used for vitamins and minerals. As for the frequency, they can be fed several times a day but the quantity should be limited. Apart from that, dry food should always be readily available to them. A bowl can be kept in the cage so that it is easy for them to access. Also, short-tailed opossums get easily dehydrated. Hence, water is very essential to them. Like dry food, fresh, clean water should also be available to them at all times. And, this should be changed regularly. Any uneaten food should also be removed to maintain hygiene.
Health Concerns for a Pet Short-Tailed Opossum
Short-tailed opossums are very hardy creatures and don't give a hard time to their owners in this regard. However, regular check-ups are of utmost importance. If there's any unusual sign, they should immediately be checked and treated accordingly. The owners may need to be in regular contact with an exotic veterinarian in case there is an emergency. They can be vulnerable to a few health issues including anal prolapse, dehydration, and respiratory problems. They are also sensitive to cold weather. So, these are a few things one needs to be careful about. However, most of these problems can be avoided with proper care.
Frequently Asked Questions About Pet Short-Tailed Opossums
Some of the generally asked questions about pet short-tailed opossum are answered below:
Can you have a short-tailed opossum?
Yes, short-tailed opossums make very good pets. They are quite friendly, interactive and entertaining. However, children below the age of 10 should not be allowed to handle this pet on their own.
Where do short-tailed opossums live?
Short-tailed opossums originally live in Brazil and other nearby countries in northern South America.
Are short-tailed opossums rodents?
No! Even though short-tailed opossums resemble rodents, they are not the same. Short-tailed opossums are marsupials. However, like other marsupials, they don't have pouches.
Do short-tailed opossums play dead?
Yes, short-tailed opossums do play dead when they feel threatened by anyone, be it humans or any other animal. They often do it to protect themselves from their predators.
What is a short-tailed opossum's lifespan?
Short-tailed opossums live around 4 to 8 years in captivity, depending on the care they receive. They reach sexual maturity as soon as they reach 5 to 6 months.
Are short-tailed opossums friendly?
Yes, short-tailed opossums are friendly and prove to be a very good pet.
Do short-tailed opossums bite?
No, short-tailed opossums generally won't bite. Even when they are threatened, their first resort is to play dead to protect themselves.