Cotton-top tamarin

Saguinus oedipus

[Translate to English:] IUCN Red List endangerment category: Critically endangered
  • Family
    New World monkeys (Callitrichidae)
  • Weight
    250 – 400 g
  • Habitat
    Tropical rainforests, open forests

Intimidation rather than confrontation

A family group’s home range often overlaps with those of other groups. To mark their territory, cotton-tops urinate on their paws to lay their scent throughout the home range. Although the smallest species of monkey, cotton-tops are extremely aggressive towards larger animals. When danger is sensed, they raise their white mane as an intimidating threat gesture.

A sitting Cotton-top tamarin looks directly into the camera.

Temporary babysitter

Cotton-top tamarins are typically monogamous. They live in family groups, with the parents and their infants at the core. Unrelated adults will temporarily join the group to help the parents feed and care for their young. This type of cooperative parenting with the support of short-stay visitors is extremely rare in the animal kingdom.

Cotton-top tamarins use their sharp teeth to penetrate tree bark and feast on the sap.