Chironectes minimus 


Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Animalia Chordata Mammalia Didelphimorphia Didelphidae

Scientific Name: Chironectes minimus
Species Authority: (Zimmermann, 1780)
Common Name(s):
English Water Opossum, Yapok
Spanish Cuica De Agua, Perrito De Agua, Raposa De Agua, Yapó
French Yapock

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Least Concern ver 3.1
Year Published: 2008
Date Assessed: 2008-06-30
Assessor(s): Cuarón, A.D., Emmons, L., Helgen, K., Reid, F., Lew, D., Patterson, B., Delgado, C. & Solari, S.
Reviewer(s): Amori, G. (Small Nonvolant Mammal Red List Authority) & Schipper, J. (Global Mammal Assessment Team)
This species is listed as Least Concern in because of its wide distribution, presumed large population, occurrence in a number of protected areas and because it is unlikely to be declining at nearly the rate required to qualify for listing in a threatened category. Populations of this species are threatened by deforestation, contamination and deterioration of freshwater ecosystems.
Previously published Red List assessments:
1996 Lower Risk/near threatened (LR/nt)

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description: The range of this species extends from southern Mexico (Oaxaca and Tabasco), through Central America to Colombia, northwestern Venezuela, Guyana, French Guiana, Suriname, the mouth of the Amazon river in Brazil, Ecuador, Peru, Paraguay, southern Brazil, and northeastern Argentina (Misiones) (Gardner, 2005). It has been found up to 1,860 m in Argentina (Eisenberg, 1989) and 1,830 in Ecuador (D. Tirira pers. comm.). The scattered records in the central Amazon are likely a sampling artefact. Occurs up to 1800 m in Central America (Reid 1997).
Countries occurrence:
Argentina; Belize; Bolivia, Plurinational States of; Brazil; Colombia; Costa Rica; Ecuador; El Salvador; French Guiana; Guatemala; Guyana; Honduras; Mexico; Nicaragua; Panama; Paraguay; Peru; Suriname; Venezuela, Bolivarian Republic of
Upper elevation limit (metres): 1800
Range Map: Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population: This species seems to be common where it occurs, but absent from many regions (Emmons and Feer, 1997). This species is rare in Venezuela, although some authors think that the species is only rarely encountered due to nocturnal habits and inaccessible habitats (Marshall, 1978). Others believe that C. minimus is rare in all areas except Central American river systems (Emmons and Feer 1998).
Current Population Trend: Decreasing
Additional data:
Population severely fragmented: No

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology: Nocturnal; terrestrial and semi aquatic; solitary; it is carnivorous, eating small fish, crabs, crustaceans, insects that it catches in the water, and occasionally frogs. Prey is captured with either the front feet or the mouth. This is confined to areas of permanent water such as streams or rivers, usually within a forest. It is an excellent swimmer and diver, paddling with its hind feet and using its tail as a rudder, and the eyes and top of the head just above water. The den is usually a subterranean cavity, reached through a hole in the stream bank just above water level. Found in tropical forests and cleared areas in tropical forest regions. Most records are from clear rivers, lakes, and streams in hilly areas; may be rare or absent from silt-laden lowland watercourse. Litter size is one to five, with two to three most common. The female keeps the young in her pouch when she swims. In captivity one female had her first oestrous cycle at ten months of age. Within this cavity it builds a nest; in captivity animals have been observed to transport nesting material with their tails (Emmons and Feer, 1997; Marshall, 1978).
Systems: Terrestrial; Freshwater

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): There are no major threats. This species was formerly captured for its skin, although the demand for marsupial furs has subsided in recent years (Eisenberg, 1993). Requires forest and water courses, cannot occur where this habitat is degraded or destroyed. Artisanal gold-mining in French Guiana and other parts of the species' range might degrade water courses posing a serious threat (Catzeflis in litt., 2006).

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: It is found in many protected areas.

Citation: Cuarón, A.D., Emmons, L., Helgen, K., Reid, F., Lew, D., Patterson, B., Delgado, C. & Solari, S. 2008. Chironectes minimus. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2008: e.T4671A11076156. . Downloaded on 25 May 2016.
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