Monkeys: Cotton-top

Cotton-top Tamarin (Saguinus oedipus)

cotton-top tamarin
Named after their recognisable white fur. This tuft of white fur stretches from their heads and goes down to their neck and shoulders. They are 21 -25 cm tall. They are one of the smallest monkeys – weighing 0.55kg – 1.10kg. They have a 30 – 44 cm long tail. Males and females are of similar size. On the tip of each finger, they have small, but extremely sharp claws. Therefore, they are fast and very skilful climbers. Black skin covers their face, sometimes black and grey. Their bodies are covered in white fur, with the exception of their feet and palms. In captivity, they can reach the age of 24, while in nature, on average, they reach 13 years of age.

Habitat and breeding:

They only live in a small area on the edges of the tropical forests of Northwest Columbia. They prefer to live on the altitude of 5 m with a thick undergrowth and in treetops, up to 20 m high. These monkeys live in groups of 2-9 individuals. They are very sociable but cautious as they have many enemies. When the group rests, one individual is on the lookout for possible predators. A couple always leads the group. There is a dominant female, which releases a special pheromone to prevent sexual activity of other females in the groups.

Even the older members of the groups are looking after the dominant couples´ offspring. The dominant couple has 1 - 2 offspring. The gestation last for up to 180 days. The offspring can move onto their own after 4 weeks. At 5-7 weeks of age, they start to eat solid food. At 18-24 weeks of age, they become entirely independent. Sexual maturity is reached at the age of 2. If an »outside« monkey mates with females from the group, only one female of the newly formed group will have offspring.

Nourishment:

Tree leafs, fruit, tree juice and resin, small seeds and sprouts. They also eat bugs and plant excretions. They are an important disperses (carriers of seeds) in the tropical ecosystems.

Interesting:

Selling these monkeys is strictly prohibited as they are extremely endangered due to the destruction of their natural habitat. Currently, they are enlisted as highly endangered species and are one of the rarest primates on our planet - only 6000 individuals living in the wild. It is assumed that in 1976 around 400.000 of them were caught and removed from the wild for biomedical purposes. When Cites ensured the highest level of protection for them, people stopped trading them. They are among the 25 most endangered primates.


Dusan Kreslin
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