Cotton-Top Tamarin Facts!

Cottontop Tamarin (Saguinus oedipus) in Zoo Duisburg. © Raimond Spekking / CC BY-SA-4.0 (via Wikimedia Commons)

Cotton-Top Tamarin Facts!

Cottontop Tamarin (Saguinus oedipus) in Zoo Duisburg. © Raimond Spekking / CC BY-SA-4.0 (via Wikimedia Commons)

Cotton-top tamarins are tiny, squirrel-sized primates found in northwestern Columbia in South America. The name comes from the white tuft of fur on top of the tamarin’s head. They are listed as Critically Endangered due to habitat destruction and illegal pet trade.

Cotton Top Tamarin And Her Babies
Cotton Top Tamarin Mother And Her Babies. Image credit: Schristia cc2.0

They live in small groups of two to thirteen members, foraging and sleeping up in the trees to protect themselves from predators, which are mainly hawks and snakes. They are always cautious about their surroundings — one tamarin acts as the lookout while the rest of the group rests or feeds. Only the dominant male and female reproduce. The female usually gives birth to twins and the whole pack participates in taking care of them and protecting them.

cotton top tamarin feeding
Cotton top tamarin feeding. Image credit: Chi King cc2.0

Cotton-top tamarins feed on insects and fruit, and occasionally on lizards and birds’ eggs as well. They also like to lick sap off of trees. If they venture down onto the forest floor in search of water they’ll be vulnerable to predators, so most of the water they need is obtained from the fruit they eat, and by licking leaves that are wet with rain or dew. This way keeps them safe up in the trees.

Cotton-Top Tamarin Facts

New World Monkey
Alternative names: Saguinus oedipus, Cotton-top monkey, Cotton-headed tamarin, White-plumed bare-face tamarin, Bichichi, Titi pielroja, Titi blanco, Titi cabeza blanca, Titi leoncito
Where in the world? Northwestern Colombia
Habitat: Tropical forests
Diet: Fruit, seeds, gum, flowers and insects
Size: 8.2 to 10.2 inches long
Weight: 14.5 to 15.9 ounces
Average lifespan: 13.5 years (oldest recorded at 24 years)
Conservation status: Critically endangered

Cotton-top monkeys are best known for the long white haired crest on their head which extends from their forehead to their shoulders.

Dominant females give birth to twins and everyone in the group takes their part in carrying, feeding, protecting and playing with the infants. Interestingly, males can lose up to 11% of their body weight while caring for the infant, whereas the dominant female gains weight after giving birth.

Currently, the cotton-top monkey is listed as a Critically Endangered species and in fact, is numbered among the world’s 25 most endangered primates, with only about 6,000 remaining in the wild. Illegal pet trade, the use of cotton-top monkeys for scientific research and deforestation are considered the main causes.

Taken from IP Factly’s 25 Awesome Apes & Monkeys

YouTube video playlist
Details of the videos featured are underneath.
Follow this link for more monkey videos.

The Playlist:

  1. Protecting Cotton-Top Tamarins by DisneyAnimals
  2. Cotton-top tamarins in the wild by proyectotiti
  3. Cute baby monkey – cotton top tamarin by ZSLvideo
  4. Cotton top tamarins by jonnoble2007
  5. Cotton top tamarins by jonnoble2007
  6. Cotton-top Tamarins by Erin Kendrick



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