Cotton-Topped Tamarin

Saguinus oedipus

Sarah Schepers2


North West Colombia




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


140 - 160 days, one - two young born


10 - 13 years in the wild, 18 - 24 years in captivity.


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

Conservation Status:

Critically Endangered


Cotton-topped tamarins are tiny monkeys that weigh less than half a kilogram! One of the smallest primates, the cotton-top tamarin is easily recognized by the long, white sagittal crest extending from its forehead to its shoulders.

A group of these primates can make a loud noise. When communicating each other, they use as many as 38 various vocalizations, displaying joy, curiosity, fear, alarm and playfulness.

Cotton-topped tamarins are very social primates, forming troops of up to 19 individuals, with 3-9 on average. Each troop has a dominant male and female, their offspring and a few younger individuals tasked as 'helpers', gathering food and scent marking the troop's territory.

Fun Fact: When excited or feeling danger, these tamarins try to look bigger than they are by raising hair on their head crown and standing full-length.

At Hamilton Zoo:

You can find our Cotton-topped tamarins in the parrot court.

Mishka - 25/11/07

Yara - 8/5/19