Marmoset & Tamarin Monkey Facts:
From the ear tufts of the Geoffrey’s marmoset to the pompadour of the cotton-top tamarin, marmosets and tamarins are some of the most striking primates. Both groups fall under the New World monkey classification, meaning they live in Central and South America and are generally smaller and spend more time living in trees than their Old World counterparts in Africa and Asia.
They are divided into two main family groups.
The first group, Callithricidae consist of marmosets and tamarins—both monkeys with claws. The second larger group, Cebidae, has four subfamilies: Cebinae – squirrel and capuchin monkey; Actinae – douroucouli (night or owl) and titi monkey; Atelinae – howler and spider monkey; Pithecinae – uakari and saki. These latter monkeys have nails, not claws. New World Monkeys have flat noses.
Tamarins and marmoset often give birth to twins, and sometimes triplets. Also, it’s the dad who carries the babies around, not the mother. These monkeys eat tree sap. They range in weight from only 3 to 5 ounces to 2 pounds.
Fun New World Monkey Facts
- Douroucouli (night monkeys) are the only ones who are nocturnal.
- Marmosets and tamarins don’t have prehensile tails.
- Capuchins rub their fur with crushed millipedes as a mosquito repellant!
- New World Monkeys live in trees; the term is arboreal.
- The biggest threat to New World Monkeys is loss of habitat. Buying brazil nuts, which can only be harvested in healthy rain forests, helps encourage maintenance of their habitat.
- A group of monkeys is a “troop.”
Marmosets and tamarins have a cooperative rearing system where the mother generally gives birth to twins, and the father and other group members care for the young by carrying, food sharing, and perhaps by looking out for predators.
Marmosets and tamarins are known to be gum feeders. With their sharp teeth they gnaw holes in trees to get the gum. In the wild they spend 1/3 of their time doing this. Besides the fact that "it will keep them busy for a while", it's also a source of energy, calcium and other minerals. It is known that also other species like tamarins like arabic gum.
Mix one part of powder with two parts of water. After two to three hours it's ready for distribution. Drill some holes into wood (like branches or bamboo) and fill them with this prepared gum.
A few ways to prepare Arabic Gum:
·30% gum + 70% water ·10% banana + 20% gum + 70% water ·30% gum + 70% fruit juice ·cut fruits in cubes and put dry gum (like sugar) on it
Despite their small size, marmosets & tamarins need a relative large area. Minimum sizes are 6 ft tall, 3 ft deep and 6 ft wide. The wide size is important because marmosets live in trees. It's easy, the bigger the better !!!!
If possible create outdoor enclosures with a heated indoor cage.
They can spend many hours exploring their home. Many marmosets & tamarins, like all monkeys, show signs of boredom in captivity. So, use a lot of different items in their home.
Outdoor : Indoor:
Grass floors Peat (best), sawdust or wood chip floors
Swings Wooden nestbox : 28x22x26 cm high with an entrance
Platforms hole 10 cm in diameter
Change their environment from time to time.
You must clean indoor cages every week. Marmosets scentmark their cage constantly, therefore it is very important that you don't sterialize their cage all at once. Clean the nestbox and the cage at different times. Use a mild disinfectant to clean their cage.
They need a temperature of 20°C - 25°C in indoor cages (use also heat lamps). For outdoor cages, don't forget to provide some shade in the summertime.
A humidity of 40 to 60 % is perfect. You can use moist peat (floor) to maintain a high humidity.
The wild marmoset & tamarins are omnivorous, feeding on flowers, fruits, nectar, tree saps and gums, insects, spiders, lizards, amphibians, snails, and other small invertebrates.
Vitamin A & D3 are important. Marmosets & Tamarins need some extra vitamin D3.
Fresh water every day at all times.
A varied diet is very important to avoid boredom and loss of appetite.
Cut all food items into approximately 1cm square pieces
Daily : *NOTE : NO ONIONS
Marmoset & Tamarins Diet (dry or canned)
Chopped fruits (like mango, papaya, apple and once a week banana)
Fresh vegetables like carrots, tomato, cucumber, fennel, cauliflower, mushrooms...
Cooked vegetables like peas, cauliflower, ...
Hard boiled eggs (white)
Cooked meat (like chicken and turkey)
Twice weekly :
Insects (like mealworms, grasshoppers, crickets...)
· Marmosets & Tamarins belong to the family of Callitrichids, and are known as New World Monkeys
· Marmosets & Tamarins are found throughout the forests of Central and South America, utilizing all levels of the forest, they live in the rain forests, gallery forests, dry forests and savannah woodlands, and usually only descend to the ground in search of prey
· Marmosets & Tamarins are distributed mainly from the Amazon Basin, south of the Amazon River in Brazil, east to the Brazilian Atlantic coast and extending over into Eastern Bolivia
· Their habitat is usually secondary lowland forest that is evergreen or semi deciduous; they also prefers the forest edges up to 500m in altitude. They prefer disturbed forest rather than mature virgin forests
PHYSICAL FEATURES OF THE MARMOSET:
Social groups: family groups up to 30 individuals (in captivity max 12). Only one breeding pair in a group.
Lifespan: 7 - 20 years
Length: Head + Body: 7-12 inches (18-30 cm)
Tail: 7-16 inches (17-40 cm)
Weight: 10-18 ounces (300-500 grams)
Hands: Except for the big toes, a marmoset has claws not nails unlike most monkeys
Color: Marmosets have a flattened black face, thick white tufts on its ears, and long black and white fur. The tail is white ringed with black.
Marmosets averages 198mm in length of head and body and its tail is 290mm long. At around 190 to 350gms in weight it is a small and agile monkey .
The digits have curved claws, except on the big toe, which has a flat nail.
The curved claw adaptation assists in horizontal jumping by enabling them to run up the sheer side of a tree, it also assists in grooming.
Their body length is 225 - 309mm, the tail is 279 - 406mm and they weigh between 255 and 454 grams.
Marmosets have a V-shaped mandible with incisors that are extended and nearly level with the canines, resulting in a cup or scoop-like shape, these teeth are very sharp and can cause quite a bit of damage if one is bitten, this enables the marmoset to gnaw holes in order to gain access to tree exudates.
· In Marmosets, only the dominant female breeds. The other females are prevented from coming into heat by the dominant's aggressive behavior--staring, poking and general intimidation, and in some, by her pheromones as well. The breeding female may change with a new breeding season
· Marmosets live in pairs or family groups in which only the dominant pair breeds.
· In the Callitrichids family there is very rarely inbreeding, families can sometimes grow to ten or more animals.
· They are highly social and have a dominance hierarchy. Only the dominant female gives birth, and everyone in the family, including the dominant male, helps carry the infants.
· The Best Father Award may go to Marmosets. These fathers are highly devoted to their babies. The father helps the mother deliver the babies: biting off the umbilical cord, cleaning up the afterbirth, receiving and washing the babies. The mother looks after them during the first few weeks, but later the father (or if there are two males, the fathers) take over, carrying the babies on their backs and returning them to the mother every 2-3 hours for breast feeding. Although juveniles and non-breeding females may also help out, the fathers do most of the work. Some have pointed out that this behavior is more similar to some birds than to other primates! This behavior probably helps improve the survival of the babies and the group for various reasons:
· To share the physical burden of the babies, which can be very large in size relative to the adults.
· To share the tasks of looking out for predators, looking after infants and foraging. Adults often share food with babies, juveniles and sometimes even adult children.
· The experience also gives juveniles good practice to become better parents when they grow up. Juveniles removed too early from their social group later make poor parents.
· In addition to the father helping raise the young, the older siblings also assist in the care of the newborns, primarily in transporting them about. In this way older offspring learn to care for their own young in the future.
· Usually twins (60%), sometimes triplets (20%), occasionally one (10%), rarely 4, each weighing approximately 30 grams
· Gestation: about 4 months, weaned in 2 months.
· The mother usually becomes pregnant within 2 weeks after giving birth!
· Females mature in 2 years, males in 1 year.
· Offspring, which are sexually mature, tend to stay with the family group for a while, but as a general rule, they do not breed.
· It is believed that the pheromones of the dominant female inhibit ovulation in the subordinate females within the group.
· These subordinate females detect the pheromones of the dominant female by smelling her tail after being threatened.
· The male often increases contact with the female, such as grooming or snuggling, as she nears this time.
· The female will in turn increase her interaction towards the male a few days prior to the actual mating.
· Young primates are very dependent. Marmosets & Tamarins are no exception. Infants must be nursed, carried and watched until they are old enough to take care of themselves. For some primates, this may be an extensive period. In the common marmoset this period lasts approximately four to eight weeks.
· In most primate species, the mother is the sole provider of care for the young. The common marmoset differs from most primates except mammals; lesser apes and its close relatives (tamarins) because the father and other group members, including older offspring, regularly carry young infants. The mother will also hold and carry the young, but she devotes much of her time and energy to nursing rather than just carrying.
· Caring for infants is a particularly large investment in time and energy for the marmoset. The "family structure" of the marmoset social group is important for successful infant rearing as large groups rear more infants than smaller ones. While infant marmosets develop in a relatively short time, and thus the length of time involved in infant care by marmosets may seem less than observed in other primates, the intensity of marmoset infant care is more than is observed in most other primate species (expect in tamarins).
· When infants are present, specific activities involving their care may be observed. Of these, carrying, transferring, accepting, rejecting and rubbing-off are most easily seen.
· Carrying: All group members participate in this activity and may carry one or both infants. Because the infants have yet to grow the characteristic white ear tufts and because their fur blends with that of the adults, they are not easily distinguished while being carried. As the infants get older and more active it becomes easier to see them.
· Transferring & Accepting: After being carried for a period of time, the infants are transferred from one group member to another. When infant transfer occurs, the infants will crawl from one individual to another. The marmoset accepting the infants will position itself so that the transfer is easier for the infants. If an infant is not being carried it will cry (ngä) to signal that it wants to be carried. When this happens, the accepting adult will again position itself so that the infant can crawl on. So, while infant marmosets are aided onto a carrier, they are not picked up and held during transfer and acceptance.
· Rejecting & Rubbing-off: As infants get older and larger, they are encouraged to become more independent and are carried less frequently. An infant is rejected when an adult refuses to carry the infant as it attempts to climb on. Rejecting may involve non-wounding biting and cuffing by the adult to further discourage the infant. If the adult is already carrying the infant, it may try to remove the infant by rubbing the infant off as a sign of rejection. The infants may cry frequently and persist in their efforts to be carried. When infants become large enough to be more independent, rejection by older carriers becomes commonplace and is a natural and important part of the infant's development.
THE GROWING MARMOSET:
· As with all primate species, parental ability is a learned behavior and therefore this experience is important. By 4 to 6 weeks old, the young become interested in solid food and begin to sample items that the parent is eating.
· By 2.5 to 3 months, the young are almost self sufficient from a feeding point of view, but they continue to sleep on their parents' back until they are four months old. Permanent teeth begin to push through at 3.5 to 4 months of age, beginning with the molars, and are completed by 7 to 8 months with the emergence of the canines.
· Sexual maturity is reached between 9 to 13 months in the male, and 18 to 24 months in the female. The estrous cycle averages every 15 to 17 days with no menstruation occurring.
· Communication by sight, or visual communication, is very important among primates, including marmosets. Examples of visual communication include facial expressions, body posture, raising body hair, and moving ear tufts. Body posture, moving ear tufts, and facial expressions become especially important during mating, aggressive and play encounters.
· Examples of some important visual cues for the common marmoset are:
· Piloerection: During piloerection, a marmoset will cause its body hair to stand on end or its body hair will erect over a specific area (such as the tail). This type of behavior is found in many primates, as well as many other animals. Piloerection allows the marmoset to give the impression of larger body size. A marmoset may piloerection during aggressive and sexual interactions or when encountering a strange object.
· Facial Expressions: Marmosets have many different facial expressions, and they are all an important means for communicating information. Some examples include:
· The "relaxed" face. (seen when calm or resting)
· "Head-cock stare" (seen when observing an object, prey or another monkey)
· "Play" face (seen during play encounters)
Facial submit (submissive behavior seen during aggressive encounters)
· Body Posture: Sometimes the position in which a monkey is standing, sitting, or even holding its tail, delivers information to another individual. Some examples of body postures seen in the common marmoset include:
· "Leg stand" - When in this position the marmoset is standing on its hind legs. The hands may or may not be outstretched. This is used in response to a foreign object or unknown sound. This provides the animal with better visual perspective.
· "Cringe" - Marmosets often cringe as a submissive gesture.
· Tail positions: In some primates, these are an important means of communication. For example, certain primates use an erect tail as an aggressive display. In the common marmoset, however, the tail is primarily used for balance during locomotion.
· Communication by sound, or auditory communication, occurs through vocalizations. Each primate species has a unique set of vocalizations. These can be used to communicate important information about (1) group location, (2) warning about a predator, (3) contestants involved in aggressive encounters, and (4) parents and offspring interactions.
· The common marmoset has its own set of vocalizations. Learning to recognize the individual sounds takes patience and a careful ear. Individual sounds have been identified for the common marmoset and are named according to how they sound:
· Ngä: An infant cry to obtain attention. Also a submissive call in adults.
· Erh-erh: Aggressive vocalization.
· Trill, twitter, trill phee, phee: All thought to be involved with establishing and maintaining contact between animals within, and sometimes between, social groups.
· Smell is an important means of communication for all primates, including humans. Marmosets have a better developed sense of smell than humans.
· Communication by smell is called olfactory communication. The most common type of olfactory communication is scent marking. Marmosets and many other primates' scent mark by rubbing their scent glands (located in the chest and anogenital regions) over an area they want to mark. Other marmosets will then sniff or lick these markings to obtain the "message".
· Scent marks identify an individual, its sex, species and many other attributes, including fertility status, or even if it recently had a fight. Scent marks by marmosets in the same social group may help to identify their group's territory.
· Play is a common and important behavior that occurs not only in primates, but in many other animal species as well. While play behavior is seen more frequently among the younger animals, adults may also play.
· It is usually very easy to recognize when primates are playing. Play, however, involves many different behaviors and can occur among many different combinations of group members.
· For younger primates, play may help in the development of social and motor skills and it often involves patterns of behaviors which will become important in adulthood.
· Marmosets exhibit three types of play:
· Play with an object
· Solitary play
· Social play
· When engaged in play a marmoset often displays a "play face" with its mouth open and relaxed -- the teeth are obvious, but the lips are not retracted. The "play face" is observed in many primate species.
· While playing together, marmosets may chase one another, pounce on one another or wrestle with one another. Sometimes they may even bite one another. The biting, however, is inhibited, non-wounding and non-aggressive.
· It is important to distinguish play behavior from aggression and submission. When marmosets are acting aggressively or submissively, they do not exhibit a "play face". Instead they often have their teeth bared (the lips are retracted) and will cackle, scream or squeal. Additionally, the biting and wrestling in fights causes wounding. Such disputes occur in both free-living and captive groups and are a normal part of primate social life.
AGGRESSION AND SUBMISSION:
· Aggression and submission in marmosets occurs under many different circumstances and includes a variety of aggressive and submissive behaviors.
· Aggression and submission commonly involves competition over resources (mates, food, territory) and the establishment or maintenance of social rank. While low-level, vocal aggression can be common in some primate species, all-out fighting is rare. Fighting often leads to serious injury to one or all contestants and is therefore very costly. For this reason, primates are more likely to rely on threats and displays more often than actual physical combat.
· The common marmoset, like many other primate species, is not particularly aggressive and fighting is rare. When aggression does occur, it is usually associated with both aggressive and submissive behaviors and vocalizations.
· Aggressive behaviors include:
· Frown stare
· Ear-tuft flick
· Submissive behaviors include:
· Facial submit
· Animals avoiding each other
· Ear-tufts flattened
· Two common vocalizations associated with aggressive encounters are ngä (which is submissive) and erh-erh (which is aggressive).
· Grooming is a very important behavior among all primates. Marmosets, like other primates, groom each other (allogrooming) and themselves (self grooming). Grooming serves two functions:
· Hygienic grooming allows primates to remove dead skin, debris, and parasites living on the skin.
· Social grooming is an important form of social contact. It helps to strengthen and form social bonds among group members and may even be used to ease tense interactions.
· Common marmosets groom frequently. However, each episode usually lasts for a few minutes.
· In addition to grooming, other types of social contact are important for common marmosets. They may often be seen nuzzling, hugging, licking or huddling with one another.
· Just as humans rest, so too must other primates. Marmosets spend a large part of their day involved in this activity. A marmoset is said to be resting when it is not moving and is not engaged in any activity.
· When resting, the marmoset may be awake and alert. During these times the monkey may be sitting or lying on its stomach with its tail in a relaxed and uncoiled position.
· Marmosets will rest both in and out of physical contact with other group members.
· For all primates in the wild, searching for and consuming food takes up a large portion of the day. The common marmoset is no exception. In their natural habitat, a marmoset may devote up to 50% of the day searching for and feeding on foods such as insects, fruits and tree gums and saps. Like other forest-dwelling primates, marmosets do not come down to the ground to drink. Instead they rely on water collected in the trees.
· For captive marmosets, food is provided at specific times, usually once or twice a day. These times may be marked with heightened activity among group members. In captivity, marmosets usually do not have a natural source of tree gums and saps. However, they may still exhibit tree-gnawing behavior if an appropriate substrate is available.
· For many captive primates feeding time may also be a period of heightened aggression with individuals attempting to secure the most food and/or the most desirable selection. Marmosets are rarely aggressive. However, with preferred foods, such as grapes, marshmallows, or bananas, marmosets may display some aggression
· In the wild: During dry months, much of a wild marmosets diet comes from feeding on gum, the sticky substance trees use to seal the damage done by marmosets gouging holes in the bark.
· In captivity it is very important to give the marmoset the right types of food and the right amounts. The diet should ideally consist of 2-5% insects, 5-10% hi protein, 15-20% fresh fruit and vegetables and 75-80% commercial marmoset diet.
· The Marmosets natural diet consists of fruit, flowers and worms.
· They also feast on a variety of insects.
· Plant exudates and gums are also consumed, the marmosets has dentition adapted for gouging holes in plants in order to get to the gum.
· I feed my Marmosets the following:
· Morning: Yogurt - fruit flavored, porridge, oatmeal with Marmoset Powdered Diet, variety of fresh fruits, and baby fruit juice in an extra water bottle.
I leave dryed fruits, nuts and food for them for the day. Meal worms, crickets, grasshoppers (protein, once or twice a week) we call it hunting day. I get a couple dozen crickets and some mealworms or grasshoppers and turn them loose on the sun porch and let the marms and tams go hunting for them. It's a natural behavior and they have such fun doing it. Dried fruits, fresh fruit/veggies.
· Afternoon: Cheese, boiled egg, meat like boiled chicken or turkey.
· Night: Fresh vegetables, potatoes, sweet potatoes, pasta, rice, bread, just about anything you are having for dinner. The more foods you introduce your marmoset or tamarin to when they are young the less finicky they will be as an adult. *NOTE : NO ONIONS
· Vitamin D3: Vitamin D3 is extremely important to New World primates. They require more then average and it needs to be added to their diet.
· Vitamin D3 needs to be given orally as supplement in their diet, however in order to metabolize the calcium properly they require a special lighting, best source is through natural, unfiltered sunlight (Ultra Violet rays). But in some areas this is not possible year round so you must substitute this natural light with artificial lighting.
· Metabolic bone disease such as rickets is the result of a D3 deficiency. In extreme cases, the major organs can also be affected.
> Big no-no: The one is Cockroaches, they carry a virus that attacks the Heart, Liver and Kidneys and cause death. Another is onions which cause a type of anorexia that emaciates them over a period of time.
· Marmoset wasting disease.
· Herpes: Marmosets, as with all Callitrichids, appear to be extremely sensitive to the various forms of the herpes virus. As a result, these monkeys should be kept isolated from other primate species, which often carry their own form of the virus. They are extremely susceptible to herpes simplex, the common fever blister in humans, and it is FATAL to marmosets, they die a horrible slow and excruciatingly painful death, and there is nothing that can be done for them. Symptoms of herpes are frequently shown by sores around the mouth and in the mouth, diarrhea, loss of appetite, depression, dehydration, nasal discharge and swollen eyelids.
· Shelves, ropes and branches provide marmosets with some diversity in their captive environment, it is also important to provide some variation in the lengths and widths of these objects.
· The stability of the objects should vary so that the marmoset can learn to adapt to those objects that move when jumped onto and those that stay still.
· This increases both physical and mental stimulation which in turn helps to alleviate boredom, as well as helping in the development of proper co-ordination and physiological development (the development of the muscular system).
· When keeping marmosets indoors, especially in the winter when heating is used, it is important to keep the humidity level up to at least 50 to 75%, this is especially so if they are youngsters.
· Marmosets being housed individually should be kept at a temperature of 26.6 to 27.7 degrees C.
· Those maintained in pairs or groups can withstand lower temperatures as they draw body heat from each other.
· Marmosets mark their territories in the wild by "scenting", this is also done in captivity by rubbing their scent glands against a perch or some other object in the cage, note these preferred areas.
· Cleaning and disinfecting the cage is extremely important for good health, and to alleviate odors.
· However, do avoid washing the areas of the cage frequently which are most often used for scent marking purposes.
· Marmosets have been known to develop behavioral problems and skin lesions due to an over stimulated need to scent-mark their territory in a sterile environment.
· It is advisable to wash these areas on a rotation basis, where you wash certain objects one time and the other objects the next, by doing this, the monkey will always feel "at home".
· The same is true when replacing perches and branches etc.
· Never replace them all at once, but rather work the new ones in a couple at a time.
· With all this discussion on scent, it should be noted by anyone planning on keeping Callitrichids that they are rather smelly, and this should be a major factor when deciding if the care of these creatures is for you.
· When providing bedding for these little creatures, care must be taken that you do not give them bedding with loose fibres, as these can become entwined around their little fingers and toes cutting off circulation.
· It is important to provide covering for marmosets, which are housed primarily outdoors.
· In their natural habitat, large birds frequently prey on them; as a result they rely heavily on dense foliage for cover and protection.
· If they are not provided with cover, over at least half the enclosure, marmosets feel insecure and this may lead to problems related to stress.
TAKING YOUR MARMOSET OR TAMARIN TO THE VET:
· As with all pets, and of course primates, marmosets must sometimes be caught for medical reasons, transportation or relocation.
· Remember: they become very easily stressed to their maximum limits, possibly causing harm to themselves or their companions, or resulting in their own death.
· Even though they are small, they still have claws and very sharp teeth.
· The handler would be well advised to wear gloves for his/her protection.
· Depending on how accustomed the animal is to being handled, decide which restraint method to use.
· If the monkey is fairly tame and approachable, one may need only pick the individual up in gloved hands, or throw a towel over its body, securing it.
· Some might be coaxed, trapped or chased into their sleeping box and then transferred to a carrier.
· In more difficult situations, a net may be necessary.
· A small cloth net is best for this so as to lessen the chances of claws being caught in the mesh.
· Always avoid stressing the monkey as much as possible.
· When terrified, they can run about the cage resulting in a fall or impact from hurling themselves into a solid object.
· Try to remain in one specific area and if possible, have someone outside the cage distracting the monkey while the net is quickly slipped over it.
· If the monkey or its entire family is being relocated to a new environment, include some of the objects which may have been scent marked, such as the sleeping box, perches etc.)
· This will lessen the confusion and reduce the amount of stress associated with the move.