Animals of Costa Rica

Woolly Opossum

Category: Mammals

They are smaller than the common opossum with a longer slender body. They have thick, ‘woolly’ hair which is a greyish/reddish color. Their tail has fur about halfway up and then is naked with different pigments.

Taxonomy Didelphidae (Caluromys derbianus)
Spanish Name Zorro de balsa
Conservation Status Least concern
Distribution From southeastern Mexico to Columbia and Ecuador. There are subspecies that are defined by their range.
Behavior They are nocturnal animals that make nests in tree holes and tangles of vines. They will use their tail to collect materials for their nest. They are arboreal animals that are rarely found on the ground.
Diet Omnivores, eating mainly insects and small invertebrates, fruits, seeds, flower parts, and possibly carrion (decaying meat).
Reproduction Generally polygynous, males will compete for females, but not a lot is known or reported on this species’ mating behavior. Gestation is about 21 days, longer than many other opossum species (13 days) and are weaned and independent around 4 months. Young are generally sexually mature at 7-9 months.
Threats Deforestation is a threat, but they do have a large range that will help maintain their populations. They are preyed upon by ocelots, margays, and jaguarundis.
At Alturas We have been raising this young woolly opossum for a few months and are eager to release it in the next few weeks. We receive opossums more than any other animal, but this specific species, (Caluromys derbianus), is not very common.