Tamarins information

There are many species of Tamarin and several sub-species of these.  Many of these classifications are disputed for one reason or another so please get in touch if you believe that this page contains any errors.   Email atoz@monkeymania.co.uk with details.

Tamarins (general)

Tamarins are distinguished by their striking colourations which camouflage them in the wild. Tamarins are small, compared to most other primates, having a body length averaging around 25cm (10 inches) and they weigh around 15-20 ounces.

Lion tamarins tend to be a the largest of the group, and are distinguished by their elongated digits and the manes from which they derive their name. The tamarins' ancestral primate nails have evolved to look like claws on all but their large toes. This enables them to climb up and down tree trunks like squirrels.

The tamarin is distinguished from the marmoset, by the lower jaw and teeth. Tamarins have rounded jaws, whilst the jaws of marmosets are V-shaped, with enlarged incisors.


Where the camera icon () appears in the table, click it for a picture of the species.  Likewise, where the name is underlined click the link for more information on that species.

Genus Common name
bicolour bare-faced tamarin
caissara black-faced lion tamarin
chrysomelas golden-headed lion tamarin
chrysopygus black lion tamarin  
fuscicollis saddleback tamarin  
geoffroyi red-crested tamarin
imperator emperor tamarin  
inustus mottled-face tamarin
labiatus red-bellied tamarin
leucopus silvery-brown bare-faced tamarin
midas golden-handed tamarin
mystax mustached tamarin
nigricollis Spix's black-mantled tamarin
oedipus cotton-top tamarin  
rosalia golden lion tamarin
tripartitus golden-mantled saddleback tamarin


Cotton Topped Tamarin

cotton top tam Click pic for bigger version

Saguinus oedipus

Description: About the size of a squirrel, the cotton-top tamarin is a New World primate that is noted for its shock of white hair.

Weighing about 400-600 g (1-1.5 lbs.) and measuring about 23 cm (8 in) from head to base of tail, these tiny primates typically to give birth to twins that combined weigh over 15% of the mother's body weight.

Range: Cotton-top tamarins are found only in northern Colombia extending from the eastern bank of the Atrato River to the western bank of the Cauca and lower Magdalene Rivers, bounded by the Colombian Caribbean coast to the north and the beginning of the Cauca River and crossing the Serranía de San Jerónimo to the south.

Habitat: The cotton-top tamarin is an 'arboreal primate' (it lives in trees) and the original vegetation types within the cotton-top's range are generally wet tropical forest in the west (Chocó), moist forest in the Andes and Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta, and dry thorn forest savannah in the northern coastal plane.

Diet: The cotton-top tamarin feed primarily on fruits and insects found in the mid-lower strata of the forest. They have been observed to lick sap dripping from trees but are not known to gouge holes in trees to obtain sap as do marmosets. They obtain their water from the fruits they consume and have been observed to lick the morning dew from leaves.

Social Organisation: Cotton-top tamarins live in groups of 2-12 individuals in the wild. Most captive and wild groups appear to be monogamous, with only one reproductively active male and female - exceptions to this trend have been found in wild populations. Interestingly, only one female gives birth to infants, while the other adult females in the group are reproductively suppressed.

In captivity, females can give birth to twins every 28 weeks, whilst in the wild infants are generally born once a year.

top    back to menu

Emperor Tamarin

Click pic for bigger version

The Emperor Tamarin is extremely cute! You will firstly notice their funny moustache which is long, white and curling. You will also notice their orange coloured tails. The Emporer Tamarin can be found foraging on the forest floor - out of the way of predators such as birds of prey.

Distribution: Found only in South America: Peru, northwestern Bolivia, western Brazil. Habitat: In thickets of lowland rainforests in the Amazon Basin, as well as deciduous woodlands at higher altitudes.

Size: Head and body 19-25cm with a tail 35-42cm long.  The Emporer Tamarin weighs between 225 and 900g.

Lifespan: 12-17 years.

The Emporer Tamarin usually gives birth to twins, but exceptionally one offspring. Gestation takes between 140 and 150 days.

Social Organisation: Emporer Tamarins live in small family groups consisting of of a mated pair and their offspring, sometimes with 1-2 subordinate adults.

Emperor Tamarins mark their territory with scent and will defend it vigorously. They feed on insects, fruit nectar and gums.

Interesting fact: When Emporer Tamarins were discovered it was felt that their moustache looked like that of a German Emporer - hence the excellent name.



top    back to menu


Click Me!

Click Here!