I know that Mexico uses tlacuache, but by action of the TV zarigüeya is entering to Mexico, so I'm curious about the countries were the word is actually used. I'd like to know if there are countries where zarigüeya is not the prefered word.

  • 2
    Just for those who are wondering like me, it's worth mentioning this: tlacuache = possum or opossum.
    – TheLearner
    Nov 9, 2014 at 16:31
  • @TheLearner possum is not opossum. They are different animals. writingexplained.org/opossum-vs-possum-difference
    – DGaleano
    Oct 3, 2016 at 22:46
  • In Colombia that animal is called Chucha or Zarigüeya but never tlacuache since that word is completely unknown here
    – DGaleano
    Oct 3, 2016 at 23:28
  • @ukemi it doesn't make sense to close a 4 year old question. (I think) :-)
    – DGaleano
    Apr 20, 2018 at 13:15

2 Answers 2


It also depends of the region of México, for example here in Yucatán they call the zarigüeya "zorro" and that's just limited to some parts of the mexican south, in Veracruz we maintain the name and don't use the nahuatl depiction of since Veracruz is historically an olmec region, also Yucatán is a maya region so that's why they don't use traluache either.


RAE definitions:

tlacuache. (Del náhuatl tlacuatzin).

  1. m. Méx. zarigüeya.


zarigüeya. (Del port. brasileño çarigueia).

  1. f. Mamífero marsupial de tamaño mediano o pequeño y aspecto que recuerda a la rata. Las extremidades tienen cinco dedos y las de atrás el pulgar oponible; la cola es prensil, lisa y desnuda. Es mamífero nocturno y omnívoro, que hace nido en los árboles y su preñez dura trece días.

Zarigüeya is used in any Spanish speaking country, it is a word borrowed from Portuguese-Brazilian language. So I dare to say that is not by the action of the TV.

Tlacuache has been maintained in Mexico because Náhuatl was used as lingua franca in some regions before Spanish appearance that borrowed this word. Náhuatl is currently spoken by more than one million and a half only in Mexico where is an official language.

  • Just to confirm that is the word that we use in Spain, although I haven't ever seen one of these animals in there. When I came to New England I started to see many of these little critters trying to cross the road just in front of my car (not the smartest). I was told they were possums and I had to google for them to find a translation (and word reference told me both zarigüeya and comadreja...).
    – Diego
    Nov 8, 2014 at 12:47
  • I jus want to clarify that when I said the tv thing I was specifically speaking of Mexico. In Mexico the main word is tlacuache but recently zarigüeya is increasing in the spoken language because kids watch tv and the tv cartoons say zarigüeya.
    – Jaume
    Nov 8, 2014 at 19:42

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