Cotton-top tamarin

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Animal File

Common Name:
Cotton-top tamarin
Scientific Name:
Saguinus oedipus
Size: 30 cm (length)
Weight: 220 - 900 grams
Native to South America
Rain Forest

Conservation Status

Critically threatened

These very distinctive small primates are extremely vocal. They use almost 40 different sounds to communicate with each other and their young. They have 1 or 2 offspring per year and can live up to 15 in the wild and 25 in captivity. Natural predators include hawks and snakes.

However, one of the biggest threats to the survival of this critically endangered species is the pet trade. Due to their small size and “cuteness”, they are thought to be the ideal primate pet. In 2014, two cotton-tops were stolen in a targeted raid on the Zoo. Fortunately, they were found and returned but the 3 month old baby of one of the pair was lost. 

They do need very specialist care and a controlled diet, so do not make good pets. Their diet at the Zoo comprises fruit, vegetables, seeds and marmoset jelly. Special treats include rice and mealworms.


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