Cottontop tamarin

TAXONOMY

Simia oedipus Linnaeus, 1758, Colombia. OTHER COMMON NAMES

French: Pinché; German: Lisztaffe; Spanish: Tití blanco. PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICS

Weight: 12.4-15.9 oz (350-450 g); head and body length: 7.9-11 in (20-28 cm); tail length: 12.2-16.1 in (31-41 cm); conspicuous long white hair on the crown.

DISTRIBUTION

Northwestern Colombia, between Rio Magdalena and Rio Atrato.

HABITAT

Tropical rainforest, seasonally dry tropical forest.

BEHAVIOR

Cotton-top tamarins usually live in groups of 3-10 individuals, including 1-2 adults of each sex and immature offspring of different ages. Both sexes may disperse and join neighboring groups. Home-range areas are 19-25 acres (7.8-10 ha), and daily path length is 0.9-1.1 mi (1.5-1.7 km). The diverse and complex vocal repertoire includes long calls of much lower frequency (1-1.5 kilohertz) than those of tamarin species distributed in Amazonia. Scent-marking involves the anogenital and suprapubic glands, sternal marking is extremely rare. The conspicuous crown hair is raised when animals are agitated.

FEEDING ECOLOGY AND DIET

Cotton-top tamarins are primarily frugivorous and insectivorous, but complement their diet with exudates, nectars, and small vertebrates. They use all strata of the forest during feeding and foraging, and may also come down to the ground to feed on fallen fruits.

REPRODUCTIVE BIOLOGY

Breeding is usually restricted to a single female per group, but groups with two pregnant females have been observed. Whether females mate with more than one adult male is not known. Estrus cycle duration is 23-25 days, and gestation length is 180-185 days (longer than other tamarin species). Usually one birth per year takes place between March and June, if pregnancies fail or if infants die, females may conceive a second time and give birth later in the year. Infants are mainly carried by adult males.

CONSERVATION STATUS

Cotton-top tamarins are Critically Endangered due to ongoing habitat destruction and trapping.

SIGNIFICANCE TO HUMANS

Used in biomedical research and popular as pets. ♦

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