Cotton-Top Tamarin

Cotton-Top Tamarin

Saguinus oedipus

See them at the Zoo

Quick Facts
Length: 8" to 10"; Tail:9.75" to 17"
Weight: up to 1 pound
Wild Diet: Insects, small vertebrates, fruit, and other plant material
Zoo Diet: Hill's Zupreme canned marmoset diet, steamed sweet potatoes, fruit, hard-boiled eggs, peanuts, sunflower seeds, crickets, and mealworms
Distribution: Northwestern Columbia
Habitat: Tropical rain forests, deciduous forests, and secondary growth forests.

Cotton-top tamarins have very acute sensory perception. They have excellent smelling abilities, and they use this sense primarily for navigating the forest and for finding ripe food items. They also use scent to identify individuals and receptive females. They have sharp vision and use it while foraging for food and while navigating their arboreal environment as they swing from branch to branch. Vision is also important for seeing and interpreting visual displays such as facial expressions. They can also hear relatively well, but this is not their strongest sense. Auditory cues are used to communicate between mating pairs and groups. They can make 38 different sounds!


The upper parts of cotton-top tamarins have alternating colors. The underparts are whitish. A white crest extends over the head. They have claws on all fingers and toes except the big toe. The claws are an adaptation for climbing and clinging to branches and tree trunks. They have long thumbs and extremely short big toes.

Status in the Wild

The most significant current threat to their survival is the destruction of their habitat, which is being converted to farm fields and cattle pastures. Captive populations are thriving.

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