Cotton-top tamarin

Cotton-top tamarin

Saguinus oedipus

Conservation status: IUCN – CR (Critically endangered); CITES – Appendix I

Geographic range: Columbia, Panama.

Physical description: These small primates have about 23 cm length body without the tail. Their tail is much longer, from 33 to 40 cm. Female’s average body weight is 430 g, male’s – 410 g. Tamarins held in captivity can weight much more – about 565 g. They differ from other primates in long, white coat on grey colored head. They have brown coat on the back. Tail is red colored around base and black on the tip. These small primates are about 23 cm large with tails of up to 40 cm. In the wild, females typically weigh about 430 g and males about 410 g. In captivity they can weigh up to 565 g. They differ from other primates due to their long, white coat and grey colored head. Their backs are brown and the tail is almost entirely red, except for the black tipped end. 

Biology: Cotton-top tamarins are one of the most endangered tamarin species in the wild due to the excessive use of them in medical and other scientific research. They live in groups of between 3 and 13 individuals, depending on the food supply in their territory, which they mark using scent. Whereby, the females are more active at marking the territory than the males. Cotton-top tamarins sleep in groups and typically begin the day about an hour after sunrise. They cover areas of about 10 km2 during their daily search for food and then find a tree to climb up and sleep in. Usually, they are found about 1500 m above sea-level. To show aggression, these animals stand on their hind legs and ruffle up their fur to make them appear larger than they are. Only the dominant female has offspring though overall this monkey species can be either monogamous or polygamous. Even though, the dominant female even goes as far as emitting pheromones to delay the onset of other females’ pubescence, the whole group of tamarins takes part in rearing the young. Cotton-top tamarins spend most of their life in trees and they communicate through expressive body language, smells and vocalization. 

Lifespan: In the wild 10-13 years, in captivity 15-24 years.

Food habits: Most of their food consists of fruit, seeds, sap, insects and small vertebrates.

Scroll Up