What Is a Spotted Cuscus?


A spotted cuscus, or Spilocuscus maculatus, is a marsupial that lives in tropical regions of northern Australia and on the island of Papua New Guinea. The cuscus is the world's largest species of opossum, with specimens that range in size from 6 inches to nearly 2 feet in length. The animals are hunted for meat in Papua New Guinea, and the species is threatened due to hunting and deforestation.

Adult cuscus specimens reach weights of 3.5 to 7.9 pounds. Spotted cuscus spend their entire lives above ground in thick, arboreal forests, eating fruit and flowers from trees. This species is nocturnal and searches for food at night thanks to its very large eyes. Spotted cuscus live an average of 11 years in the wild.

Breeding season occurs year-round in the warm climate. Females give birth to as many as two offspring after a gestation period of just 13 days, and babies spend several months in the mother's pouch, in accordance with typical marsupial behavior. Spotted cuscus reach sexual maturity in approximately eight months.

Scientists first believed the spotted cuscus was a monkey because of its movements through trees. The spotted cuscus was later reclassified since its life cycle is similar to that of an opossum.