Brazilian Short-Tailed Opossum
Brazilian Short-Tailed Opossums (STO), are great little marsupials to keep as pets. They do not require large amounts of space, are relatively easy to feed, and are surprisingly low-odor animals. When acquired as babies, they are very friendly and enjoy being handled and played with. Our availability of babies varies throughout the year and babies typically sell out very quickly. We accept deposits for upcoming babies whenever we have litters being raised. Please contact us at 413-772-9497 for more information.
Brazilian Short-Tailed Opossum (STO) Information & Care
∙ STO (Monodelphis domestica) can live up to 4 years.
∙ They are small animals growing to about 4-7" long with males being larger than females.
∙ They are nocturnal but are easily interacted with most any time of day.
∙ They are insectivores/frugivores that feed on dry cat food in captivity along with insect treats and fruit.
∙ They do not have a true pouch but the babies attach to teats right after birth and do not release for a few weeks.
∙ They are good climbers and have a semi-prehensile tail that aids this.
STO are solitary animals and they must be kept apart from others except for brief periods during breeding. Housing them is not a difficult process however they are escape artists! While adults can usually be safely housed in cages that are suitable for mice, young animals will squeeze through that kind of spacing without much effort. ½” hardware cloth or smaller is the only safe wire to prevent escape. Glass aquariums with a tight-fitting screen top or large, plastic storage tubs with modified tops are probably a better choice. We use 19 Gallon Sterilite Stacking Storage Tubs and modify lids to allow for ample ventilation. There are a few different types of bedding that work well with STO. We use and recommend aspen shavings as they do a good job at moisture and odor control while minimizing dust. Pine shaving can also be used but cedar should be avoided. STO are actually surprisingly low-odor pets. Their urine and feces do not produce anything close to what rodents smell like. They will choose a single corner of the enclosure in which to eliminate which makes it even easier to clean up as that portion of the litter can be changed out much more frequently if desired.
STO appreciate a hiding place to feel secure. They are happy to use any small container or fabric bag that allows them to curl up inside. Bits of tissue or other soft materials are carried in the tail and are often incorporated into the nest.
They are also very good climbers and appreciate cage “furniture” that allows this. Thick tree branches (pesticide free) make ideal play gyms and give them places to explore. It is quite interesting to see them using their tails to help guide them along their path.
They do not typically chew things like rodents do. They have tiny teeth which are adapted to their diet. It’s easy to think of them as a rat or mouse but, other than a superficial appearance, they are not at all alike. Diet
There are different opinions on what is the best diet for short tailed opossums and asking different breeders will likely result in different answers. We provide our STO with a base diet of a grain-free cat food and then supplement live insects and fruit to round out the diet. Mazuri makes an insectivore diet that can be used in place of the cat food but insects and fruit should still be offered. Dry food can be offered free-choice in a dish but don’t be surprised if it is mostly buried in the bedding the following day. Because they eliminate in one corner only, this is usually not much of a problem. Superworms are a real favorite and we provide plenty to everyone, both nursing mothers and growing youngsters. Live is absolutely best and I really cannot recommend using freeze-dried. Mealworms are another option- again, provided live.
They also enjoy various fruits but seem to prefer things like melon, papaya, kiwi and banana. Apples and sweet potato (cooked soft) can also be offered. It is important to remove any uneaten soft food after a few hours to prevent spoiling.
The best way to provide drinking water is via a water bottle. This keeps the water clean and fresh and prevents the STO from spilling it. It is important to be sure that the bottle is actually flowing and the STO can drink. Dehydration can kill an STO in a matter of a couple days or less.
Generally speaking, short tailed opossums are hardy animals with very few health issues when housed in clean surroundings, kept at the proper temperatures, and fed a good diet. They are not really prone to illness but there are a couple things to watch for. While they are not especially delicate, they should always be kept at temperatures in the 70’s. Additionally, they can dehydrate quickly so it is important to ensure their water bottles are flowing freely and they never run dry. A quality diet will result in a healthy gastrointestinal tract. Really, most issues with health typically are related to breeding.
Toys & Enrichment
Short tails are very active and curious and there are a few things they really enjoy. An exercise wheel is a favorite item that also allows them to burn off excess energy, and calories! It is best to use the solid plastic wheels and avoid those made of wire, as their feet and tails can get caught. The "saucer" type are an excellent choice and will get plenty of use. The clear plastic exercise balls are a fun way to let them explore the house while preventing them from getting into trouble.
They are excellent climbers and will enjoy branches, ladders or other types of cage furnishings that allow them to do this. Hiding spots, both on the ground and elevated higher up will give them a choice on where to rest.
Brazilian Short Tailed Opossums are naturally curious and fairly friendly when acquired as newly weaned/young. Although they might be a bit shy when first picked up, they soon will settle down and get used to you. They may instinctively open their mouths when startled or if woken up but getting a nip from a tame one is rare. With regular handling they will even come to enjoy being out with you. Both males and females are equally friendly and, other than the slight size difference, make nice pets. There’s no behavioral or health issues that are unique to one gender or another. Offering a mealworm treat is a great bonding trick that will have them looking forward to your handling.