Cotton-Top Tamarins

Cotton-Top Tamarins

Range and Habitat:  Forests of Colombia, South America

Diet:  Primarily insects and fruit

Life Span:  Up to 13.5 years in the wild; up to 24 years in captivity

Status in the Wild:  Critically Endangered

Threats to Survival:  
Cotton-top tamarins are protected in Colombia now, but they are still listed as Critically Endangered because of habitat loss due to agriculture and urban sprawl.

Interesting Facts

  • These tiny New World monkeys are one of the most endangered primates in the world.  Although once numerous in the forests through South America, it is believed there are less than 6,000 animals remaining in the wild.
  • They derive their name from the shock of white hair on top of their heads.  Each tamarin has its own unique “hair do.”
  • Tamarins have excellent eyesight which helps them forage for food in the rainforest.  Because of their diminutive size, they are extremely vigilant, always watching for predators.  As the group rests during the day, one member of the group always stays alert and on watch, warning the others if it senses danger.
  • Cotton-top tamarins can produce more than 38 different vocalizations!
  • Prior to the early 1970s, 20,000 to 40,000 cotton-top tamarins were taken from the wild for biomedical research and the pet trade.
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