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Cotton-top tamarins

Saguinus oedipus

Description: The Cotton-top Tamarin (Saguinus oedipus) is covered with white hair all around its head, chest and belly while their back and  tail is covered in long, black and brown fur. They have specially designed claws on their limbs that allow them to be arboreal dwelling fauna.

Size: Both male and female Cotton-top Tamarins weigh less than a pound, their height is nearly 9.1in with a 10.5 inch long tail.

Behavior: The Cotton-top Tamarin is a diurnal and arboreal species, meaning it lives in trees and is most active throughout the day. The reproductive behavior involves small family groups, known as a troop, usually consisting of 3-9 members. The dominant male and female focus on reproduction and raising their young while non-dominant former offspring assist in the rearing of the new offspring. Their communications involve about 38 different vocalizations consisting of loud and high pitched chirps and squeaks.

Diet: Cotton-top Tamarins are omnivorous primates and primarily consume fruits and small invertebrates. Their diet is high in nutritional value which allows for them to consume small portions but primarily forage throughout the day.

Senses: The Cotton-top Tamarins have excellent eyesight and hearing which allows them to be extremely vigilant and therefore always looking out for predators.

Communication: Due to the intense foliage and size of their habitat, this species relies on chemical trails (scent marking) and high pitched vocalizations to communicate with each other. This allows for separation of troops, seeking mates, predator warnings and food foraging.

Reproduction: Cotton-top Tamarins have a high reproductive rate in the timeframe from January to June (the early spring season) dependent on reproductive success and mating success, they naturally produce twins. In the wild they are capable of reproducing every 48 weeks and in captivity they can reproduce as often as every 28 weeks.

Habitat/Range: The Cotton-top Tamarin originates from a small area in northwest Colombia, near the Cauca, Magdalena rivers, and the Atlantic Ocean. In their native land, the local people refer to them as “Titi’s”.

Conservation Status: The IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) lists the Cotton-top Tamarin as Critically Endangered. Their numbers are in decline due to major deforestation and human activity which contributes to their overall habitat loss. Colombia’s rainforests are disappearing at an alarming rate due to new human development and agriculture.

Fun fact: They consume fruits along with the seeds and as they digest, their droppings drop the seeds which helps disperse seeds and allows for growth of the native habitat.