Marmosets and tamarins are small, lightweight, swift-moving monkeys that live in South and Central America. Marmosets are among the smallest of all primates. They do not look like other monkeys, having short arms and legs similar to those of small tree-living mammals such as squirrels. Furthermore, they have claws on their fingertips, whereas other monkeys have fingernails.

Golden Lion Tamarin

A beautiful animal, this tamarin has a silky golden mane covering its head and shoulders and concealing its ears.

In common with the other members of its family, it leaps from branch to branch with great agility as it searches for fruit, insects, lizards, small birds and birds’ eggs to eat. They live in family groups, consisting of a pair and their offspring. When the female gives birth again, they help to care for the young, learning parenting skills for when they leave the group.

Habitat destruction has severely threatened this species.

Distribution: South-east Brazil.

Habitat: Coastal forest.

Food: Insects, snails, lizards, eggs and fruit.

Size: 34 - 40 cm (14 - 16 in); 630 - 710 g (22 - 25 oz).

Maturity: 1.5 - 2 years.

Breeding: 2 litters of twins born in September and March.

Life span: 15 years.

Black and Red Tamarin

This tamarin is typical of its genus, with its unspecialized, short, broad hands, equipped with claws, and a small body. The hairs around its mouth are white, but the skin under the mustache is pigmented, as are the genitalia. Insects, leaves and fruit are the main foods of these tamarins.

Range: S. Colombia to adjacent areas of Ecuador and Brazil.

Habitat: Primary and secondary forest.

Size: Body: 6 - 11 in (15 - 28 cm) Tail: 10 1/2 - 16 1/2 in (27 - 42 cm).

Saddlebacked Tamarin

Size: 19 - 30 cm (7.5 - 12 in); 260 - 380 g (9.25 - 13.5 oz).

This species occurs in Panama, Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia and Peru. Saddlebacks are most often seen near the edge of the rainforest, where the canopy is less developed and where there is more undergrowth. They have a black-and-white pattern on their faces, and a red-brown coat. Saddleback groups contain a single adult female and two adult males. The female mates with both males and they all share the task of rearing the young. Older offspring help to care for the youngest litter. Saddlebacks eat insects and fruits, and lick tree gums and sap to obtain minerals.

Black-faced Lion Tamarin

Size: 30.5 cm (12 in); 600 g (21.25 oz).

Discovered in 1990, this critically endangered species lives in about 17,000 hectares (42,000 acres) of forest in south-eastern Brazil. The face, mane and tail have black hair, while the hair on the rest of the body is deep gold. These diurnal monkeys move in groups of up to 10 animals with a dominant monogamous breeding pair. They eat mainly fruit and some invertebrates.

Golden-rumped Lion Tamarin

Size: 20 - 33 cm (8 - 14 in); 300 - 700 g (10.5 - 24.75 oz).

The golden-rumped lion tamarin is another critically endangered species, with under 1,000 surviving in two small pockets of forest in Brazil. Long, black hair covers most of the body, but the thighs, buttocks and tail are golden. These tamarins live in family groups that forage by day. Like most tamarins, they eat insects and fruits.

Geoffroy's Tamarin

Size: 20 - 29 cm (8 - 11.5); 350 - 500 g (12.25 - 17.6 oz).

Geoffroy’s tamarin is found in south-eastern Costa Rica, Panama and northern Colombia. This small monkey lives in shrubs and tall grasses, and may even be seen in areas of forest that have burnt down. It has brown and black fur with a white triangular patch on its head. The neck and tail are a dark red-brown. This species lives in groups of up to 20 individuals. It practices a polyandrous mating system, in which each female mates with two or more males. The males will help to carry the young despite being uncertain of their paternity. The group uses scent to mark its territory. Although females are dominant in the group, males are more aggressive toward members of other groups who enter the territory. This species eats insects and fruits as well as lizards, flowers and nectar. Due to habitat destruction, this species is endangered.

Black-mantled Tamarin

Size: 22 cm (8.5 in); 475 g (16.75 oz).

The black-mantled tamarin is found east of the Andes, from Ecuador to southern Colombia and south to Peru and Brazil. It lives in primary and secondary rainforest. Secondary rainforest grows where primary rainforest has been damaged in some way. It is considerably more dense, with shorter trees but more undergrowth. This species has black fur from the head to midway down the back, after which the fur becomes red. The black-mantled tamarin's diet mainly comprises insects, particularly grasshoppers and crickets. These monkeys also eat fruits, seeds, nectar and tree gums.