Saguinous oedipusCotton-top Tamarin


  • Callitrichidae


  • Wild: 10 to 15 years
  • Captivity: Up to early 20s


  • Length: Head and body 8 to 11 inches, tail is 12 to 17 inches (20 to 38 inches total)
  • Weight: 14 to 15 ounces in the wild, 20 to 25 ounces in captivity


  • Costa Rica, Panama, and northwestern Colombia
  • Currently only found in Colombia


  • Tropical rain-forests


  • Wild: Insects, fruits, plant saps and gums, nectar, spiders, and small vertebrates.
  • Zoo: Zupreem Marmoset diet (a canned food for zoos), skinned fruit, vegetables, yogurt, crickets and waxworms.


  • Females usually give birth to two babies between January and June.
  • The average birth weight of infants in captivity is between 1.4 to 1.76 ounces.
  • Born with their eyes open, they are covered in fur and have a short mane.
  • The father and older siblings assist with the birth and also carry the babies, delivering them to the mother at feeding times.
  • There is a dominant mated pair in family groups, and only that pair will breed.
  • The dominant female will urine wash branches and surrounding materials with pheromones that will inhibit cycling in other females, so only she will birth young.

Special AdaptationsCotton-top Tamarin

  • Claws help the tamarins grip branches, since their fingers are small and non-opposable.
  • Their long limbs and tail help make them excellent jumpers.
  • Females have highly developed scent glands.
  • Their tails help with balance, but are not prehensile

Tamarin Facts

  • Tamarins usually live in small territorial groups of 3 to 9, and defend their chosen area.
  • The group consists usually of a mated pair and their young offspring.
  • Cotton-tops are active from dawn until dusk (diurnal) usually grooming, sunbathing, or stretching out on a perch, with rest at midday.
  • They have a highly developed vocal repertoire with at least 38 distinct vocalizations.
  • They make a variety of noises including whistles, screeches, squeaks, and warbles.
  • They have specific vocals for alarm, food, levels of aggression, and submission.
  • Some of their calls are too high-pitched for even humans to hear.

Conservation Status

  • IUCN -Critically Endangered
  • CITES -Appendix I
  • Native people used to kill the Cotton-top tamarin for its tender flesh.
  • During the late 1960s and early 1970s, between 20,000 and 40,000 cotton-top tamarins were imported into the U.S. for biomedical research.
  • Tamarins are found to develop colonic adenocarcinoma (colon cancer) and were used for in-depth studies of colon cancer.
  • The species is now listed as critically endangered and exportation has been banned.


  1. Animal Diversity Web. Accessed January 2016.
  2. Appendices I, II, and III of CITES. (February 5, 2015) Accessed January 2016.
  3. ARKive. Accessed January 2016.
  4. Encyclopedia of Life. Accessed January 2016.
  5. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. (2015) Accessed January 2016.

Cotton-top Tamarin

**All animal information is meant to be an educational resource. It may not include all the latest scientific information. Though we edit our information we cannot guarantee the accuracy of all facts presented.