Pygmy Marmoset (Callithrix pygmaea)
- Type: Mammal
- Family: Cebidae
- Habitat: Tropical rainforest, preferably seasonally flooded riverine forests
- Location: Western Amazonia; Columbia, Ecuador, Brazil, Peru, and Bolivia
- Diet: Tree sap, gums, insects, and fruits
- Average lifespan in the wild: 12 years
- Size: Head and body 4.7-6 in (12-15.2 cm); tail 6.8-9 in (17.2-22.9 cm)
- Weight: 4.20 oz (119 g)
Even though they are the smallest of all the monkeys, pygmy marmosets can leap more than 16 feet. At only 5.35 inches and 4.2 ounces on average, they expertly maneuver through the canopy, scampering vertically up trees using their sharp claw-like fingernails. All other primates have flat fingernails, but pygmy marmosets’ specialized claws are much better for gripping limbs while feeding on tree sap. The diet of pygmy marmosets is largely comprised of tree exudates – the sap, gum, resin or latex that oozes out of plants. The incisors, which are narrow and elongated, help these tiny animals gnaw holes in tree trunks to release sap. Insects and fruit supplement their diet.
Pygmy marmosets live in social groups of two to nine individuals. The dominant female is the only female in the group to mate. Every member in the group aids in the care of offspring. For the first two weeks of their lives, babies are always carried. After that time, they are left in a hole or hidden tangle of vines while the adults forage for food. As the offspring grow, they spend a great deal of their time playing in the trees. When they reach adulthood, they either remain in their natal group as a non-breeding subordinate or venture out to join a new group.
Pygmy marmosets have a v-shaped lower jawbone, and thus a pointed face. Their tales are very long compared to their bodies, measuring about eight inches and banded with faint black and tan rings. The length of their head and body combined is always shorter than the length of their tail. Their fur is a brownish yellow, and dense tufts of hair sweep back from the forehead.
Did you know: Pygmy marmosets give birth to fraternal twins at an unusually high rate — while most primates give birth to only one offspring at a time, up to 70 percent of pygmy marmosets’ births are to fraternal twins.
Photo by Malene Thyssen