Cotton Topped Tamarin

Cotton topped tamarins living at Wingham Wildlife Park

Size
At an average weight of 430 g and length of 67 cm (with around 40 cm being its tail), it is one of the smallest primates.

Habitat and Distribution
It is restricted to a handful of fragmented reserves in Northern Colombia where it inhabits both primary and secondary forests, ranging from humid rainforest through to drier areas.

Age
In captivity they may live for 24 years, while in the wild it may only be half this long.

Diet
The diet of this species is made up half of fruit and half of animal protein, with a small percentage also being made up of gums and nectar from the plants in its habitat.  Much of its animal protein is gained from insects which it actively hunts with great accuracy.

Groups and Breeding
This is a very social animal living in family groups of up to 9 or more individuals with a dominant breeding pair.  The dominant female will give birth to one or two babies each year which are cared for by the whole group (both males and females).

Threats
This species is classed as critically endangered, which is partly due to a huge export for laboratory use in the 1970’s during which time it is thought as many as 40,000 individuals were caught and exported.  A CITES ban was enforced in 1976, however due to massive habitat destruction the wild populations of this species have never recovered and there may now be a s few as 6,000 left in the wild.

Interesting fact’s
Extensive research in to their communication has found 38 distinct sounds which conform to the rules of grammar and even the use of simple sentences.  Their vocabulary has been described by researchers as “unusually sophisticated”.