Elegant Fat-tailed Mouse Opossum, Thylamys elegans

The elegant fat-tailed mouse opossum (Thylamys elegans) can be found in Chile and possibly Argentina at altitudes between sea level and 8,202 feet. It prefers a wide variety of habitats including brushlands, riverbanks, and cloud forests. This species occurs in arid habitats, which is not typical to mouse opossums.

The elegant fat-tailed mouse opossum can reach an average body length of up to 4.7 inches, with a tail length between 4.5 and 5.5 inches. The fur color of this species varies from light grey to brown, with lighter colors occurring on the sides and underbelly. There is a dark circle of fur around both eyes, which fades towards the nose. It derives its common name from its tail, which is used to store fat.

It is thought that the elegant fat-tailed mouse opossum resides in trees and is active during the early morning and late evening hours. Females of this species will make nests in various places in preparation for their litters, which can contain up to fifteen young, although eight to ten is more common. In Chile, this species can breed twice between the months of September and March. Its diet consists of arthropods, fruits, and small invertebrates, but it may also consume carrion.

There are no known major threats to this species, although its population numbers are declining. It is thought that habitat loss could become a future threat, especially in central areas of Chile where deforestation is on the rise. It is not found in any protected areas. The elegant fat-tailed mouse opossum appears on the IUCN Red List with a conservation status of “Least Concern.”

Image Caption: Thylamys elegans. Credit: Yamil Hussein E./Wikipedia (CC BY 3.0)