Caluromys lanatus (Olfers, 1818)

Russell A. Mittermeier & Don E. Wilson, 2015, Didelphidae, Handbook of the Mammals of the World – Volume 5 Monotremes and Marsupials, Barcelona: Lynx Edicions, pp. 129-186 : 132

publication ID


persistent identifier

treatment provided by


scientific name

Caluromys lanatus


3. View Plate 8: Didelphidae

Brown-eared Woolly Opossum

Caluromys lanatus

French: Opossum laineux / German: BraunohrWollbeutelratte / Spanish: Raposa lanuda occidental

Other common names: Western Woolly Opossum

Taxonomy. Didelphys lanata Olfers, 1818 ,

“ Paraguay.” Restricted by A. Cabrera in 1916 to “ Caazapa.”

Revision using modern techniques may change taxonomic status of subspecies of C. lanatus . Six subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution.






C. l. vitalinus Miranda-Ribeiro, 1936 — SE Brazil (Distrito Federal, Minas Gerais, Espirito Santo, and Sao Paulo). View Figure

Descriptive notes. Head—body 20.1-31.9 cm, tail 33-44.6 cm; weight 300-520 g. Dorsal and lateral fur of the Brown-eared Woolly Opossum is reddish to pale or yellowishbrown, but it is brighter on shoulders, rump, and outer surfaces of legs and pale gray on lower legs. There is sometimes a pale gray mid-dorsal stripe between shoulders. Head is gray or grayish, with a dark brown mid-rostral stripe, reddish-brown to orange eye-rings, and gray cheeks. Tail length is ¢.150% of head—body length, and tail has fur on 40-70% ofits length dorsally and 20-35% ofits length ventrally. Naked rest of tail is usually whitish with mottled brown spots near base of naked area. Ventral fur is orange to yellowish-white laterally and grayish at the midline. Overall, fur of the Brown-eared Woolly Opossum is long, dense, and woolly. Feet are reddish brown or dark gray, and ears are dark brown. As with the two other species in the genus, its eyes are not black but dark brown, with a black pupil. A very young molting Brown-eared Woolly Opossum was collected in February in Peru. Females of the Brown-eared Woolly Opossum have a complete pouch that opens forward, and four mammae are present, two on each side. It is one of the very few species of opossums known to have this number of mammae, the lowest in the family, and it lacks a medial mamma. The Brown-eared Woolly Opossum has a 2n = 14, FN = 24 karyotype, with all biarmed autosomes, and with a small biarmed X-chromosome and a very small biarmed or dotlike Y-chromosome. An FN = 20 and an FN = 22, with the presence of acrocentric autosomes, have also been reported for northern and central Brazil and Bolivia. Skull size and shape of the Brown-eared Woolly Opossum are sexually dimorphic.

Habitat. Lowland humid forests, usually at elevations below 500 m, almost always associated with humid places. Forest types used by Brown-eared Woolly Opossums include primary and secondary forests, plantation, gallery, mangroves, semi-deciduous, transitional, and xerophytic forests. They also occur in dense savannas and seasonal forests at the southern limits of their distribution in Amazonian, Cerrado, and Pantanal biomes.

Food and Feeding. Diet of the Brown-eared Woolly Opossum includes mainly fruits and invertebrates. It is highly opportunistic in fruit consumption, consuming a wide variety of species with no limit on fruit size, on its position in the tree, or on nutritional value. The only feature in common across all fruit species consumed is the fact that they have fleshy pulps, high water content, and particular protection against consumption. In southern Brazil, the Brown-eared Woolly Opossum consumed Coleoptera and Hymenoptera, along with fruits of Cecropia pachystachya ( Urticaceae ), Piper ( Piperaceae ), Ficus ( Moraceae ), and Solanaceae . Remains of mammals and birds were also found in its digestive tract. Brown-eared Woolly Opossums were seen visiting flowers of Pseudobombax tomentosum ( Bombacaceae ) in the cerrado and using nectar of Quararibea cordata and Q. stenopetala ( Bombacaceae ) in the Amazonia, for which they probably act as pollinators.

Breeding. Nests of Brown-eared Woolly Opossums have been reported at heights of 12 m in southern Brazil. Litters have 1-2 young in the Amazon Basin, but up to 3-4 young were observed in southern Brazil. Females with pouch young have been recorded in March, June, July, August, November, and December, and lactating females without pouch young in January, February, March, July, and October, suggesting that they remain reproductively active throughout the year.

Activity patterns. Brown-eared Woolly Opossums are nocturnal, although details on activity patterns are unknown. An individual was seen in an Amazon grape tree (Pour ouma cecropufolia, Urticaceae ) at 20:30 h.

Movements, Home range and Social organization. Brown-eared Woolly Opossums are highly arboreal, living and foraging mainly in the canopy at heights of 5-15 m. They are solitary but can occasionally be seen foraging in pairs, usually at night. Density is estimated at 13-3 ind/km? in the Amazon Basin.

Status and Conservation. Classified as Least Concern on The IUCN Red List. Although the Brown-eared Woolly Opossum may be affected locally by deforestation, being a highly arboreal species, it is widely distributed, populations are presumably large, and it occurs in many protected areas throughout its distribution. Apart from habitat loss, there are no major threats to the Brown-eared Woolly Opossum. It was formerly hunted for its fur.

Bibliography. Astta (2010), Astia & Leiner (2008), Atramentowicz (1988), Cabrera (1916), Caceres (2005), Céceres & Carmignotto (2006), Casella & Caceres (2006), Diaz (2014), Emmons & Feer (1997), Fleck & Harder (1995), Gardner (2005, 2007a, 2007e), Gribel (1988), Handley (1976), Hunsaker (1977), Janson et al. (1981), Lambert et al. (2005), Melo & Sponchiado (2012), Nogueira, Martinelli et al. (1999), Palma & Yates (1996), Patton & Costa (2003), Patton et al. (2000), Pereira et al. (2008), Reig et al. (1977), Santori et al. (2012), Smith (2008b), de Souza et al. (2013), Svartman (2009), Voss & Jansa (2009), Yunis et al. (1972).














Caluromys lanatus

Russell A. Mittermeier & Don E. Wilson 2015

Didelphys lanata

Olfers 1818