Emperor Tamarin

The distinctive moustachioed appearance of these monkeys led to them being named after Emperor Wilhelm II of Germany, following their discovery in the early 1900s.

Easily identified by its flowing white mustache, the emperor tamarin is one of 12 species included in this genus. It is an active, agile animal, moving with quick, jerky movements in the shrubs and trees as it searches for fruit, tender vegetation insects, spiders, small vertebrate animals and birds’ eggs.

Emperor tamarins live in groups comprised of a single female accompanied by two or three males. They spend most of their time in the trees, but can walk or run across the ground on all fours legs. Noisy by nature, they call particularly frequently when close to a neighbouring territory, as a way of deterring incursions by members of the other troop. Emperor tamarins form mixed bands with saddleback tamarins, however, as which allows them to spot aerial predators more effectively.

The emperor tamarin is one of the largest of the tamarins, although most lion tamarins are larger. Emperor tamarins have a crown of silver and brown hair, and a long white moustache that reaches the chest.

The female produces twin offspring after a gestation of about 5 months. The father assists at the birth and cleans the newly born young. Like many other marmosets, he also helps at feeding time by handing the baby to the mother.

Distribution: Occurs throughout western Amazonia in South America, in lowland tropical rainforest. Present in areas of Peru, Brazil and Bolivia, sometimes isolated by rivers.

Habitat: Tropical rainforest.

Weight: 350 - 450 g (10.5 - 13.5 oz).

Length: 58 - 67.5 cm (23 - 27 in) overall; tail is longer than the body.

Maturity: 1 - 1.5 years.

Gestation Period: 140 - 145 days.

Breeding: 2; all members of the troop help raise the youngsters.

Diet: Fruit during the wet season, along with sap, plus nectar in the dry season; also eats invertebrates.

Lifespan: Up to 11 years.

Status: Lower risk.


The body is greyish-brown on the upperparts, with a paler area of fur on the chest.


Long white hairs extend down each side of the pink nose.


The long tail does not taper significantly along its length. It is reddish-brown in colour.


The young are looked after by all members of their group.


Emperor tamarins are territorial by nature, with a group occupying an area of about 0.4 square kilometres (0.15 square miles) of forest.

There is a short, clawless inner digit on each hind foot.