Marmoset is an unusual little monkey that lives in tropical forests. They are distinguished from other representatives of monkeys by their size – these are the smallest primates in the world that can fit on a human finger. They are furry animals with a harmless personality and cute appearance.

Species origin and description

Photo: Marmoset

Photo: Marmoset

Marmoset belongs to the primates of the marmoset family. It is also called Geldi’s marmoset in honor of the naturalist Emil August Geldi. He explored animals in Brazil, so many representatives of the Brazilian fauna are named after him.

The marmoset family includes about 60 species of monkeys, but the marmoset is the only one of its kind. These broad-nosed monkeys live in the New World, mainly in Central and South America, inhabiting tropical forests.

The following common features can be distinguished among representatives of marmosets:

  • they are extremely small in size ;
  • they eat plant foods, especially fruits and soft reeds;
  • the way of life is arboreal, they skillfully climb trees;
  • have a very long, curled tail, which performs the function of balancing;
  • have a thick coat: the coat is dense, silky, sometimes has patterns;
  • on the big toes, like in humans, there is a flat fingernail.

Fun fact: At various resorts, you can often meet people offering a photo with monkeys of the family.

The marmoset family is named in this way for a reason: the monkeys are indeed very playful and willing to make contact with people. They are not aggressive, easily tamed, and kept as pets.

Appearance and Features

Photo: Marmoset Monkey

Photo: Marmoset Monkey

Marmosets are the smallest monkeys in the world. Their weight sometimes does not reach one hundred grams, their height is 20-25 cm, the tail is as long as the torso of a monkey. It twists and does not have a grasping function, but when the monkey jumps from branch to branch, it performs the function of balance.

Depending on the variety, marmosets have a different color. It is usually silver-gray soft fur that forms a small mane around the animal’s head. The thin tail has dark and white horizontal stripes, reminiscent of lemur tails. The marmoset has five fingers and toes, with which it tenaciously grasps objects.

Video: Marmoset

The eyes are small, black, with a pronounced upper eyelid. The muzzle is also covered with fur, which distinguishes marmosets from many species of monkeys. Some varieties of marmosets have white stripes or elongated tufts of hair on the muzzle.

Scientists identify pygmy marmosets as a type of marmoset, but there is still debate about this. Physiologically, they have almost no differences, however, pygmy marmosets are red in color, with shortened fingers and a thicker mane.

Traditionally, the following types of marmosets are distinguished by their color:

  • silver. The coat is interspersed with white hairs, due to which the monkey acquires a silver tint;
  • golden. Similarly, it has interspersed yellow hairs, also white tassels on the ears and horizontal stripes-rings on the tail of a red color;
  • black-eared. Black-brown stripes and black symmetrical tufts of hair at the ears.

Interesting fact: Despite their small head size, monkeys have a fairly developed brain, which makes them attentive and quick-witted animals.

Where does the marmoset live?

Photo: Marmoset Monkey

Photo: Marmoset Monkey

Pocket monkeys live in the following locations:

  • South America;
  • Brazil, where they were first discovered;
  • Bolivia – the Amazon basin;
  • Peru ;
  • Ecuador.

Because of their small size, the monkeys are forced to constantly hide, so their main habitat is the highest crowns of trees, where there are as few predators as possible. For spending the night, marmosets choose tree hollows, keep in numerous flocks-families, in which there are up to six generations.

Marmosets rarely descend to the ground, because there they face a lot of dangers. But these creatures are curious, so they can often be seen near villages and other small settlements. They willingly go down to people and can settle near their dwellings. Black-eared marmosets are especially friendly.

Marmosets are heat-loving animals that prefer an air temperature of at least 25-30 degrees. At lower temperatures, monkeys freeze quickly and can die from hypothermia, as their body is designed to live in the tropics.

For marmosets, air humidity is also important, which should reach at least 60 percent.

What does a marmoset eat?

Photo: Marmosets

Photo: Marmosets

Marmosets are predominantly herbivorous monkeys. But they can make up for the lack of protein with animal food. The difficulty lies in the fact that a monkey that wants to eat some small animal runs the risk of becoming its food.

The diet of marmosets often includes:

  • berries;
  • fruits;
  • flowers of plants, including pollen, which they are very fond of for their sweet taste;
  • young shoots, green leaves;
  • larvae of wood beetles;
  • moths, crickets, other small insects;
  • amphibian fry.

Marmosets have a great need for water, because for their small size they are very energetic and always in motion. In order not to go down to streams and other surface sources of water, monkeys drink dew and water that accumulates after rains in the leaves of trees.

Marmosets have strong incisors – these are their only two teeth. Thanks to them, they can bite through the upper layers of the young bark, extracting nutritious tree sap. Small paws allow them to easily remove worms from crevices in the trunks of old trees.

In terms of nutrition, marmosets have no competitors in the form of other monkeys; they are very small and light, which allows them to easily climb to the very tops of trees and eat fresh fruits, where heavier monkeys cannot climb.

Now you know how to feed the little marmoset monkey. Let’s see how she lives in the wild.

Peculiarities of character and lifestyle

Photo: Little marmosets

Photo: Little marmosets

Marmosets spend all their time on the crowns of trees, jumping between branches in height and length up to 2-3 meters. During the day, these animals feed and groom – they comb out insects and parasites from each other’s wool.

At night, a group of marmosets, which can be about 20 individuals, climb into a hollow or cleft in an old tree, where they spend the night. These monkeys raise their cubs with the whole family, where there are no other people’s children – any monkey can raise any cub.

The calls of marmosets are loud and quite frequent – they are not afraid to attract the attention of predators. The conversations of monkeys among themselves are similar to sonorous chirping, retinues and chirping. When in danger, the monkeys raise a loud screech, notifying all relatives of the approaching predators. In total, there are at least ten signals that marmosets use for negotiations.

Marmosets are not territorial animals. They quietly move around the entire perimeter of the tropical forests, and sometimes seven can meet each other. In this case, the monkeys ignore each other and quietly feed nearby. In the wild, monkeys live for about 10-15 years, and with good maintenance at home, they can live up to 22 years.

Marmosets are extremely non-conflict creatures: they are sociable towards people, willingly make contact, and in case of danger they never use their sharp incisors, but flee.

Social structure and reproduction

Photo: Baby Marmoset

Photo: Baby Marmoset

The family of marmosets includes females and males of all ages. Monkeys do not have a clear hierarchy, they do not fight for position in the pack, unlike the same baboons, but marmosets have a clearly defined leader that fertilizes most females in the family.

The male reaches puberty at 3 years, the female at 2 years. The female herself chooses a male for herself, but most often her choice falls on a potential leader – the largest and hardiest male. Because marmosets live in warm climates, they do not have a mating season and mating games.

Interesting fact: Sometimes a female can choose a male from another family, but give birth in her own family. Such cases are very rare, and this provides genetic diversity for monkeys.

Pregnancy lasts about five months, as a result of which the monkey gives birth to one or two cubs weighing no more than 15 grams. Children cling tightly to their mother’s fur with their claws and travel with her on their stomach, feeding on her milk, and then on their backs, picking off young shoots and soft leaves.

Children are brought up collectively. Both males and females take care of the younger generation, wear them on themselves, comb out their hair. The head male of the flock is mostly busy looking for suitable feeding places and looking out for possible danger.

At three months, children move independently, and by six months they can eat the same food as adults. Monkeys have puberty; like humans, female marmosets begin to mature earlier – at the age of one year, while males – at one and a half years. During this period, marmosets can mate, but not produce offspring.

Natural enemies of marmosets

Photo: Marmoset Monkey

Photo: Marmoset Monkey

Due to their habitat, marmosets are protected from most predators that pose a danger to other monkeys. In particular, the main enemy of monkeys is wild cats, which simply cannot climb to the same height as marmosets. Many large birds are not interested in marmosets because of their size.

But they still face the following predators:

  • boa constrictor;
  • bushmaster;
  • coral snake;
  • vultures;
  • harpies;
  • urubu;
  • margay cat;
  • Brazilian travel spiders;
  • Andean condor;

Most often, monkeys are attacked by birds. Being on the tops of trees, marmosets can lose their vigilance and calmly eat fruits and leaves when a large bird of prey flies on them from above. Harpies and vultures are very fast, so it is not difficult for them to get close to the monkeys unnoticed and quickly grab prey for themselves. Although, as a rule, these monkeys are too small prey for large predators.

Another danger for small monkeys — snakes that hide in dense foliage. Often, marmosets themselves come too close to the snake, not noticing the danger due to their camouflage color. Most snakes will not find it difficult to swallow a marmoset without first strangling it. Some especially large spiders prey on young marmosets. Poisonous spiders and snakes are especially dangerous for these monkeys.

If the marmosets notice the enemy, they begin to scream thinly, notifying their fellows of the approach of a predator. After that, the monkeys scatter, which disorientates the predator, preventing it from choosing a specific prey. Marmosets are not capable of self-defense, and even if a cub is in danger, no one will rush to save it. Monkeys rely entirely on their small size and ability to run fast and jump far.

Population and Species Status

Photo: Marmoset

Photo: Marmoset

In Brazil, the marmoset is in the status of protected national species, and their removal from the country is prohibited by law. This is because marmosets have been sold on the black market as pets and can sometimes sell for as much as $100,000.

However, marmosets are not an endangered species. They readily breed at home. The black market for the sale of monkeys is especially widespread in China. The population of marmosets is also declining due to deforestation, but still remains quite large. In Russia, marmosets can be legally bought from breeders and through various websites. Their maintenance and nutrition entails huge costs, so not many buyers can afford this pet.

Marmosets are caught individually, which causes their high price. You can catch a monkey only by luring it to less tall trees with the help of treats – the monkey willingly goes into a cage or other similar structure, which then slams shut. Wild monkeys are not sold by hand, but prefer to receive offspring from them, which will be fully accustomed to humans.

Nurseries with marmosets are common in South America. Often these monkeys are not difficult to catch, because they themselves willingly make contact. Marmosets have no commercial value, they are not shot for sporting purposes and they are not pests.

The marmoset is an unusual representative of monkeys. She managed to gain popularity among people due to her cute appearance, friendliness and cheerful habits. These sociable animals are adapted to live in the tropical jungle, so having a monkey at home, even in ideal conditions, is depriving an individual of a family and important social ties for it.

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