Common Marmoset Common Marmoset
Common Marmoset

Scientific Classification

Common Name
common marmoset
Genus Species
Callithrix (beautiful hair/fur) jacchus (Roman god associated with the god of wine)

Fast Facts

A small monkey with large white ear tufts, alternating dark and pale bonds on its tail.
210 mm (8.5 in.); tail roughly twice as long as body
Male: 256 grams (9.0 ounces) average
Female: 236 grams (8.3 ounces) average
Gum (15% of total diet), fruit, animal prey
Approximately 148 days
Sexual Maturity
Male:  16 months
Female:  12 months
Life Span
Average approximately 17 years
New World/South America
Plantations, scrub; home range needs at least 50 gum trees
Global: Unknown
IUCN: Not listed
CITES: Appendix II
USFWS: Not listed

Fun Facts

  1. "Marmoset" is derived from the French "marmouset" which means, loosely, shrimp or dwarf. An apt name, considering they are the smallest of the true monkeys (the lightest of the true monkeys is the pygmy marmoset).
  2. These monkeys use their specialized claws to establish a firm grip on tree trunks and gnaw little holes in the bark with their lower incisors and canines. This causes the tree to produce more sap, which is used to seal injuries to the bark. This tree sap is a valuable source of carbohydrates and minerals.
  3. Common marmoset is considered the best species able to adapt to human changes in their environment.
  4. The species was first introduced by humans in southeastern Brazil where it has propagated so successfully it is regularly observed in the marginal park districts of Rio de Janeiro.
  5. Marmosets live in mixed sex groups of up to 13 individuals. Only the head male and female will produce offspring. The mechanism that supposedly suppresses reproduction in lower-ranking females is still being studied.
  6. The differences between monkeys and apes are easy to see once you know what to look for. Apes do not have a tail and are generally larger than most other primates. They have a more upright body posture as well. Apes rely more on vision than on smell and have a short broad nose rather than a snout, as Old World monkeys do.
  7. Old World monkeys are generally from Africa and Asia while New World monkeys are from the Americas. In Old World monkeys, the nostrils face downward and are narrow. New World monkeys have round nostrils facing to the side. Old World primates are usually larger than New World's. Many of the Old World monkeys are partly terrestrial.

Ecology and Conservation

Callitrichids are not hunted for food, nor do they compete with local populations for food. Their preservation is primarily dependant upon the continued existence of uninterrupted forest habitat.

Since they breed well in captivity, marmosets are often used in medical and biological research labs. Such practices put pressure on their populations.


Anderson, Sydney. 1982. Simon and Schuster's Guide to Mammals. Simon and Schuster, New York.

Kleiman, Devra G. 1978. Biology and Conservation of the Callitrichidae. Smithsonian Institute, Washington, DC.

Parker, Sybil P. (ed.). Grzimek's Encyclopedia of Mammals. Vol. II. New York: McGraw-Hill Publishing Co., 1990.

Preston-Mafham, Rod and Ken. 1999. Primates of the World. Sterling Pub., New York.

Rowe, Noel. 1996. The Pictorial Guide to the Living Primates. Pogonios Press, NY.