Cotton-Top Tamarin

Cotton-Top Tamarin
Cotton-Top Tamarin
Justin Sullivan/Associated Press

This New World primate is easily distinguished by the crest of white hair on its black head. When it stands on its hindlegs in an aggressive display, these hairs sometimes become erect.

The cotton-top tamarin is arboreal and forages by day, eating fruits, insects, and small vertebrates such as mice and birds.


It lives in groups of three to thirteen.

One of its many vocalizations is a warning whistle that serves to alert others of an aerial predator.

Both sexes help care for the young, and two weeks after birth, the father becomes the primary parent to carry the offspring about. Siblings also help out, affording them a chance to practice parenting skills.

Animal Facts

Name: Cotton-Top Tamarin (Saguinus oedipus)

Family: Callithricidae (Tamarins and Marmosets)

Range: Northern Colombia

Habitat: Lowland tropical evergreen forest

Diet: Insects, fruit and gums

Head and Body Length: 8 to 9.5 inches (21 to 24 cm)

Tail Length: 13 to 16 inches (33 to 40 cm)

Weight: about 1 pound (0.5 kg)

Life Cycle: Mating January to February; gestation 140 to 145 days, usually two young born

Description: Crest of whitish hair; brown back; whitish to yellow underparts; reddish-orange rump and inner thighs; reddish-orange tail with blackish tip

Conservation Status: Endangered

Major Threat(s): Habitat loss and degradation

What Can I Do?: Visit the International Primate Protection League and the Rainforest Conservation Fund for information on how you can help.