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Cotton-top Tamarin

Saguinus oedipus

Luscious Locks

The cotton-top tamarin is easily recognized by the crest of white fur from the nape flowing over their shoulders. Their backs are covered in brown or black fur while their under parts are white. About the size of a squirrel, they weigh under a pound and are about 9 inches long.

About the Species

The cotton-top tamarin is one of the most endangered primates in the world.

Cotton-top tamarins gain an endangered status from issues with deforestation for agricultural purposes and from the pet trade. Since their diet consists primarily of seasonal fruits, they play a key role in seed dispersal and helping the forests continue to grow. Proyecto Titi, started in 1985 by Dr. Ann Savage, is working to raise public awareness of the plight of cotton-top tamarins. The organization works closely with the native Colombians to help save the critically endangered primate through educational opportunities such field research, community programs, and assessments of habitat. Cotton-top tamarins live in large family groups where older siblings help care for younger babies, a process called alloparenting. This helps them develop skills they will need in raising their own family, in addition to relieving some of mom's stress!

Words From the Experts


Cotton top tamarins are highly social animals. They live in large family groups where the young adults in the troop help with the raising and teaching of the younger babies. If you ever see them grooming each other, that is how troop members bond with one another!



Did You Know?

Cotton top tamarins have over 38 different vocalizations. On your next visit to the Central Florida Zoo, stop by their exhibit and keep an ear out for many different types of vocalizations!


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Native to Colombia

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Small tropical forests, primarily in the trees but will forage

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14–20 oz | 9 inches from head to tail with 16 inch tail

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Fruit, plants, nectar, gums, insects, frogs, and lizards

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Birds of prey, snakes, human deforestation

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Natural Defenses

Claw-like nails, which helps with jumping and leaping

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Usually give birth to twins with a gestation period of about 6 mo

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Critically Endangered

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Life Expectancy

Approximately 13.5 years

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