Not everyone is familiar with such a representative of flora and fauna as tamarin. They are the natives of South America. Tamarins are small-sized monkeys that are representatives of the marmoset family. They have a very memorable, bright appearance. These primates are among the smallest in the world. This type of monkey is divided into several subspecies. Representatives of different subspecies may differ in color, size and habitat.

Species origin and description

Photo: Tamarin

Photo: Tamarin

Tamarins are chordate animals, belong to the class of mammals, primate order, marmoset family, tamarin genus.


The most ancient ancestors of all monkeys are primate-like mammals – purgatorius. According to the discovered finds, their remains date back to the Pleocene. They were discovered on the territory of modern America. These are very primitive creatures that gave rise to other, more adapted and highly developed creatures – plesiadapis and tupai.

Video: Tamarin

The first existed during the Paleocene and Eocene in Europe and North America. Their appearance resembled mice or rats. They had an elongated muzzle, a thin, long body and a long tail. These animals lived in trees and fed on insects and various types of vegetation.

Tupai lived on the territory of modern Asia during the Eocene and Upper Paleocene. They had the structure of teeth and limbs, which is as close as possible to the anatomy of modern primates. In the future, in the process of evolution, animals were distributed over different regions. Depending on the habitat, they have formed certain features of the lifestyle and external signs. According to these features, primates were divided into different species.

Appearance and features

Photo: Tamarin Monkey

Photo: Tamarin Monkey

The body length of one adult is from 19 to 35 centimeters. Primates have very long tails. Its size is almost equal to the size of the body and ranges from 20 to 40 centimeters. Regardless of the subspecies, its representatives differ from other monkeys in their bright and non-standard appearance and unusual combination of colors. Animals have very thick and soft fur. Its color can be very diverse.

The characteristic color for small primates:

  • yellow;
  • white;
  • black;
  • milky;
  • brown;
  • various shades of red;
  • honey;
  • gold and its various tones .

A characteristic feature of this particular type of primate is the amazing combination of all kinds of color variations. Some individuals and subspecies have very well-defined eyebrows, nose contours, mustaches, beards, toes, etc. There are representatives of individual subspecies that have such an unusual combination of colors that from afar they are often mistaken for unusual outlandish birds.

Depending on the subspecies, the faces of monkeys are completely devoid of vegetation or, conversely, completely covered with hair. The body weight of one adult individual averages 300-400 grams. Most subspecies of this species are distinguished by the predominance of black. It is worth noting that this color is characteristic not only as a coat color, but also as a skin color.

Where does tamarin live?

Photo: Emperor tamarin

Photo: Emperor tamarin

Monkeys choose tropical forests with dense vegetation as their habitat. A prerequisite is a large number of fruit species of trees and shrubs. Most representatives of this species live in the forests of the new world. They are the original inhabitants of South America.

Geographical regions of the tamarins:

  • Central regions of South America;
  • Costa Rica;
  • Northern Bolivia;
  • Amazon;
  • Colombia;
  • Brazil;
  • Peru.

Most of the time the animals spend in dense thickets. Small size and tenacious paws with a long tail allow the animals to climb to the very top and enjoy ripe fruit on top of the tallest trees. Monkeys prefer warm, dry climates. They do not tolerate a sharp change in climatic conditions, cold, and high humidity very well.

Monkeys practically do not spend time on the surface of the earth. The tops and dense crowns of trees help not only to find enough food, but also to escape from numerous predators.

What does a tamarin eat?

Photo : Oedipus tamarin

Photo: Oedipus tamarin

The main part of the diet consists of plant foods. However, the monkeys will not refuse food of animal origin, for example, various insects.

Tamarins food base:

  • fruits;
  • flowers;
  • flower nectar;
  • eggs of some species of birds;
  • some small reptiles;
  • amphibians – lizards, frogs;
  • various insects: locusts, grasshoppers, crickets, cockroaches, spiders.

Monkeys are considered almost omnivores. In artificial conditions, they can be fed with a wide variety of products: ripe, juicy fruits, vegetables, insects, larvae, chicken and quail eggs. Boiled lean meat and cottage cheese are also added to the diet in small quantities.

Tamarins practically do not drink water. They fill the body’s need for fluid with the juicy ripe fruits of various trees and shrubs. An obligatory component of the diet is green vegetation, shoots and leaves of young plants, shrubs.

Peculiarities of character and lifestyle

Photo: Lion tamarin

Photo: Lion tamarin

Animals are very fond of climbing various trees and shrubs. At various altitudes, they spend most of their time. Small monkeys are diurnal animals. They wake up with the first rays of the sun and are very active during daylight hours. As soon as the sun begins to set, they go to sleep, choosing the most convenient place on the branches of trees or vines. A long tail helps tamarins to move from branch to branch, hang on vines. It also serves as a balancer during jumps.

Tamarins do not tend to lead a solitary lifestyle. They live in groups. The number of one family or group is from five to twenty individuals. Monkeys are very lively, frisky and mobile animals. They actively communicate with each other with the help of facial expressions, various postures, fluffing of wool. Primates also tend to make a variety of sounds. They can chirp like birds, or whistle, sometimes hiss or squeak. If they feel the approach of serious danger, they emit loud, very piercing cries.

Each family has a leader – the most mature and experienced female. The task of males is to provide food for themselves and their family members. Each family occupies a certain territory, which it fiercely defends when strangers appear. Individuals of each clan mark their territory by nibbling the bark on trees and shrubs. Even small tamarins are very jealous of protecting their territory. Often they also fight for their territory, using sharp claws and teeth. Tamarins spend a lot of time cleaning the wool of their relatives. This pastime allows you to get rid of parasites and gives a relaxing massage.

Social structure and reproduction

Photo: Baby tamarin

Photo: Baby tamarin

Representatives of this species reach sexual maturity at the age of one and a half years. From that moment on, they create pairs, breed and give birth to offspring. The mating season for monkeys begins in the middle or at the end of winter. Males look after their other half and begin to show her signs of attention in every possible way, expecting reciprocity. Females are not always in a hurry to reciprocate. They can observe the efforts of males for quite some time, and only after some time answer them. If a pair is formed, mating occurs, after which pregnancy occurs.

Pregnancy lasts 130-140 days. Cubs are born in late spring, early summer. Female tamarins are highly fertile. They usually give birth to two babies. When they reach the age of six months, they are ready to breed again and can give birth to another twin.

Cubs grow and develop quite quickly. At the age of two months, babies are already quite deftly moving through trees and vines and are already independently getting their own food. It is customary in every family to jointly look after the younger generation and raise it. Adults give the kids the most delicious and juicy pieces of fruit. When babies appear in the family, all its members show excessive caution and monitor their safety.

Until the age of two, the younger generation is close to their parents. After that, they are quite ready to lead an independent lifestyle. However, they do not tend to leave their family. They remain in the group and do their usual things, help raise the growing offspring.

In the conditions of zoos and nurseries, little monkeys get along very well with married couples. Given favorable conditions and enough food, they give birth twice a year.

Natural enemies of tamarins

Photo: Brown-headed tamarin

Photo: Brown-headed tamarin

Under natural conditions, in the thick of tropical forest thickets, little monkeys have quite a few enemies. Dangerous and numerous predators lie in wait for them almost everywhere. Monkeys are saved by the speed of reaction and the ability to climb to great heights.

Natural enemies of tamarins:

  • predatory species of birds: hawks, eagles, South American harpies;
  • jaguars;
  • acelotes;
  • ferrets;
  • jaguarundi;
  • reptiles are all kinds of predatory giant snakes.

In addition to various predators, various poisonous insects, spiders, frogs and lizards pose a considerable danger to small monkeys. They do not hunt tamarins, but the latter have a very curious temperament. Wanting to refresh themselves with an unknown creature, or satisfy their hunger with deadly representatives of the local flora and fauna, they are in mortal danger. A particular danger threatens young individuals, who, due to their irrepressible temper and excess energy, strive to grab everything that moves. Often they receive a lethal dose of poison, which causes the death of animals.

Family members are closely watching the situation around. At any approach of danger, they emit a heart-rending, piercing cry that warns all family members that it is time to escape. The unusual, exotic appearance of monkeys attracts a large number of poachers. They hunt down animals, catch them for the purpose of selling them to private individuals on the black market or for sale in zoos and nurseries. In addition to poaching, human activity contributes to a reduction in the number of animals. Humans destroy the natural habitats of animals.

Population and species status

Photo: Tamarins

Photo: Tamarins

According to scientists, the main danger for animal populations – deforestation of tropical forests. The status of tamarins depends on the subspecies. Most species are not threatened with extinction.

Among the subspecies of tamarins, there are subspecies that are threatened with extinction:

  • Golden-shouldered tamarin — has the status of “close to extinction”;
  • White-footed tamarin — endangered;
  • Oedipus tamarin — this subspecies has been given the status of Critically Endangered.

Fun fact: Animals most often have round, dark, deep-set eyes. The ears are small, rounded, and can be completely covered with hair. The animals have very strong limbs with well-developed muscles. On the front and hind legs are long, thin fingers with long, sharp claws.

Tamarins are a type of monkey that needs protection. Many subspecies are threatened. On the territory of monkeys, hunting and trapping of animals is prohibited at the legislative level. Violation of this requirement entails criminal and administrative liability. The authorities periodically organize raids, which are carried out on the territory of local markets.

Protection of tamarins

Photo: Red Book tamarin

Photo: Red Book tamarin

During such raids, animals are often released and sold by poachers. Animals are released into their natural habitat, and violators of the law are subjected to well-deserved punishment. In the habitats of small monkeys, it is forbidden to cut down the forest. However, this law does not apply everywhere. In some regions, minerals and valuable natural minerals are being mined, and therefore it is too unprofitable to stop the destruction of subtropical forests.

Interesting fact: When kept in a zoo, animals are in a state of stress . In such situations, animals can eat food that is inedible for them.

Many individuals of tamarins are kept in nurseries and national parks. There, employees and specialists try to create the most comfortable conditions for them, under which their life expectancy will increase, and productivity will not be reduced compared to natural conditions.

Tamarin is an amazing little monkey. Unfortunately, many of the subspecies are on the verge of extinction, or are recognized as an endangered species. Today, people must make a lot of efforts to preserve and increase the number of individuals so that our descendants have the opportunity to see animals not only in pictures.

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