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Mammals

Cotton-Topped Tamarin

tamarin

Saguinus oedipus

Distribution:

North West Colombia

Habitat:

Wet and dry tropical forest

Diet:

Insects, fruit, flowers, gum, nectar and small vertebrates

Gestation:

140 days, usually give birth to non-identical twins

Longevity:

Average is 13 years but up to 24 years in captivity

Predators:

Hawks and snakes, and humans who sell them into the illegal pet trade

Conservation status:

Critically endangered

General:

Cotton-topped tamarins are tiny monkeys that weigh less than half a kilogram! They take their name from the crest of long white hair, which they raise as a mild threat. They have black faces, white stomachs and brown backs, with reddish hairs around the base of their tail.

They commonly live in groups of 3-9 individuals. They are active during the day, spending most of their time searching for food. At night they sleep in broad tree forks and vine tangles within their home range. They use facial expressions, posture and various vocalisations to defend their territory.

In cotton-topped tamarin groups, everyone takes care of the baby monkeys. Fathers, brothers and sisters carry the infants on their backs, passing them to their mothers for feeding.

The cotton-topped tamarin is threatened by habitat loss, as a result of deforestation for housing and agriculture. A major impact in the past was export for the pet trade and biomedical research. Export has been banned since 1974.

At Hamilton Zoo:

You'll find our cotton-topped tamarin in the Parrot Court at Hamilton Zoo. We have two females, Bianca who was born on 31 March 2008 and Consvela who was born on 4 June 2011.