The smallest primate
Marmosets are small monkeys that live high up in the canopies of South American rainforests. There are more than 20 species, and most could fit comfortably in an adult human’s hand.
Marmosets have soft and silky hair, and many have tufts of hair or manes on either side of their faces, which are sparsely furred or naked, according to the Animal Diversity Web (ADW). There is a wide variety of colors among marmosets, from black to brown to silver to bright orange. Their hands and feet resemble those of squirrels, according to the ADW. Except for the big toe, which have nails, their digits have sharp claws. Also, the big toe and the thumb are not opposable. Marmosets, as well as their close cousins, tamarins, are considered to be the most primitive monkeys because of these anatomical characteristics, according to Dennis O’Neil, a professor of behavioral science at Palomar College in San Marcos, California.
The pygmy marmoset is smallest marmoset — and the smallest monkey. Its length is 4.6 to 6.2 inches (12 to 16 centimeters) and it weighs 3 to 5 ounces (85 to 140 grams). Its tail length is 6.8 to 9 inches (17 to 23 cm), about twice its body length. Goeldii’s marmoset is one of the larger species, with a length of 8 to 9 inches (21 to 23 cm), and a tail length of 10 to 12.5 inches (25.5 to 32 cm), according to the ADW. They weigh 13.8 to 31.3 ounces (393 to 860 g).
Pygmy marmoset is able to leap 15 feet into the air. Another interesting feature is ability to rotate its head for 180 degrees.
It can be found in Brazil, Peru, Columbia and Ecuador. Marmosets tend to stay in the treetops and behave a lot like squirrels. They have long tails — longer than their bodies, usually — but unlike other New World monkeys (capuchins and squirrel monkeys, for example), their tails are not prehensile; that is, marmosets can’t use their tails to grasp things. However, their tails do help them keep their balance as they scamper among the branches. Pygmy marmosets live in dense, tropical rainforests, lowland forests and areas that are ꜰʟᴏᴏᴅed for more than three months during the year. Number of pygmy marmosets in the wild is still stable. Luckily, these animals are not sᴇᴠᴇʀᴇly affected by habitat loss (which is the major ᴛʜʀᴇᴀᴛ for most animals). Other than habitat loss, normal behavior of pygmy marmosets in the wild is disturbed by tourist expeditions. Pet trade is another factor that affects number of pygmy marmosets.
Marmosets are active during the day and spend their time foraging. They are social animals that live in small groups, called troops, made up of four to 15 relatives and are often territorial. A territory for a common marmoset troop, for example, can range from 5,000 to 65,000 square meters (1.2-16 acres), according to the National Primate Research Center at the University of Wisconsin.
Pygmy marmosets are quiet animals. They sometimes produce clicking sounds in communication and high-pitched whistle as a warning of the upcoming danger.
Pygmy marmosets eat both plant and animal-based food (omnivores). They eat different type of fruit, nectar, leaves and small invertebrates (such as insects). They use their lower canines to drill the bark and induce leakage of the sap. This sticky liquid is favorite food of pygmy marmosets.
Pygmy marmosets are monogamous, which means that male and female mate for a lifetime. Pygmy marmosets reach sexual maturity at the age of 1 or 1.5 year. Each couple of pygmy marmosets has two litters per year.
Pregnancy lasts 119 to 140 days and ends with two babies (rarely one or three). They will spend first two months of their life on the father’s back. Mother is responsible for feeding and cleaning of youngsters.
Pygmy marmosets live 10 to 12 years in the wild and up to 16 years in captivity.
Let’s have a look on this cute creature: