MARMOSETS, TAMARINS, AND GOELDI’S MONKEY FACTS
Callitrichids (cal-ih-TRICK-ids; members of the family Callitrichidae) are among the smallest primates and include the world’s smallest monkey, the pygmy marmoset. They have luxurious, silky fur that ranges from the brightly colored to the more subdued black or brownish black. Some species come in several color combinations. A shock of hair may be worn on top of the head, over the nape and shoulder, or as a beard. All have claws on fingers and toes, except for the big toes. The claws are useful for vertical clinging. Non-prehensile (nongrasping) tails are long, sometimes several inches longer than the body. Most callitrichids have scent glands in different areas of their bodies.
Callitrichids are found in most of South America and in Central America (Panama and Costa Rica).
MARMOSETS, TAMARINS, AND GOELDI’S MONKEY HABITAT
Callitrichids occupy various habitats, including primary forests with well-developed canopies and secondary forests with dense understories. They live in open woodlands, bamboo thickets, and scrub forests, as well as forests along rivers.
MARMOSETS, TAMARINS, AND GOELDI’S MONKEY DIET
Fruits, insects, and gum (a sticky substance from tree bark) make up the main diet of all callitrichids. Most also eat nectar (sweet liquid from flowering plants), lizards, tree frogs, baby birds, bird eggs, butterflies, and spiders.
BEHAVIOR AND REPRODUCTION
Callitrichids are very social animals, living in extended family groups made up of a breeding pair, their offspring, and other relatives. They are arboreal (tree-dwelling) and diurnal (active during the day). They perform mutual grooming, or looking through each other’s fur to remove parasites and dirt. Only one female breeds in a family, giving birth to twins. Goeldi’s monkeys are the exceptions, having single births. The father and other family members share in childrearing, taking turns carrying the infants and sharing food with them. They guard their territories, sending messages through scent marking, loud calls, body language, and facial expressions.
CALLITRICHIDS AND PEOPLE
Marmosets and tamarins are sold as pets. These animals are commonly used in medical research, especially in the United States.
The World Conservation Union (IUCN) lists the black-faced lion tamarin and the black lion tamarin as Critically Endangered, facing an extremely high risk of extinction, because of habitat loss/degradation from logging and hunting. The pied tamarin is also classified as Critically Endangered due to human expansion into its habitat. Five species are Endangered, facing a very high risk of extinction, because of habitat loss/degradation resulting from deforestation for agriculture: the buffy tufted-ear marmoset, the buffy-headed marmoset, the golden-headed lion tamarin, the golden lion tamarin, and the cotton-top tamarin. The IUCN classifies two other species as Vulnerable, facing a high risk of extinction, due to habitat loss/degradation from logging and hunting.