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Last updated date: 17th Apr 2024
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Marmoset Monkey - World’s Mini Monkeys

Far up in the rainforest canopy of South America is a tiny monkey. Yes! Marmoset animals are basically small monkeys that reside high up in the canopies of South American rainforests. There are over 20 species, and most could accommodate comfortably in an adult human's hand.

It avoids behind tree trunks and branches, dashing and freezing, just like a squirrel. It also consists of brown fur and a long tail like a squirrel—however; it's a pygmy marmoset, the world's tiniest monkey!

Marmosets and their cousins, the tamarins, are a few of the mini primates around. A fully-developed pygmy marmoset could accommodate an adult human's hand, and it weighs around fundamentally a stick of butter. But there is nothing mini about a pygmy marmoset tail: it's longer than its body! The tail is not covetous, but it facilitates the little monkey to keep its balance as it gallops through the treetops.

Take a glance at the common marmoset monkey diagram below:

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Pygmy Marmoset Monkey

Both male and female pygmy marmosets wear an orange-brown coat. Each hair consists of stripes of black and brown, referred to agouti coloring. This coloration provides them with superior camouflage. The pygmy marmoset's ears are covered with mane of hair. Most primates contain flat nails on the ends of their fingers, accompanying opposable thumbs that enable them to grasp objects. Pygmy marmoset fingernails are like claws that enable them to climb up and down tree trunks. They do not have prehensile thumbs.

The pygmy marmoset monkey is the smallest marmoset — and the smallest monkey. Its length measures between 4.6 to 6.2 inches and it weighs between 3 to 5 ounces (85 to 140 grams). Its tail length is 6.8 to 9 inches about twice its body length.

Goeldii's marmoset monkey is one of the larger species, having a length of 8 to 9 inches and a tail length of 10 to 12.5 inches. They weigh about 13.8 to 31.3 ounces (393 to 860 g).

Marmoset Monkey Full Size & Description

Marmosets contain soft and silky hair, and many possess tufts of hair or manes on either side of their faces, which are moderately furred or naked. There is a huge variety of colors among a marmoset animal, from brown to black to silver to bright orange.

A Marmoset animal is disposed to stay in the treetops and conduct oneself a lot like squirrels. They consist of long tails — longer than their bodies, generally — but unlike other New World monkeys (squirrel and capuchin monkeys, for instance), their tails are not opposable; that is, marmosets can't use their tails to clutch things. But, their tails do help them keep their balance as they dash among the branches.

Their hands and feet bear a resemblance to those of squirrels. Other than the big toes, which have nails, their digits consist of sharp claws. In addition, the thumb and the big toe are not prehensile. Marmoset monkeys, as well as their close cousins, tamarins, are regarded to be the most primitive monkeys owing to these anatomical features.

Habitat of Common Marmoset 

These mini monkeys spend most of their time in the trees of South America. Many species reside in the rainforest encapsulated by the Amazon River, or in the tropical forests through the Atlantic coastline.

They live in the Amazon area of Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, and northern Bolivia. They make their home and live in woodland trees or bamboo thickets close to or alongside rivers and floodplains. A Pygmy marmoset monkey prefers living in dense rainforests where there are ample hiding places among the plants. Each marmoset flock possesses a small home range of less than half an acre. They feed on only a few trees.

Habits of Common Marmoset 

Common Marmosets are diurnal (active during the day) and spend their most time foraging. They are social animals that live in small groups, known as troops, composed of 4 to 15 relatives and are commonly territorial. Territory for a common marmoset troop, for instance, can range from 1.2-16 acres.

Diet of Common Marmoset 

Marmosets are omnivores meaning that they eat a variety of foods. Their diet includes insects, small animals, tree sap and fruits. Pygmy marmosets are fond of the sap of trees. They saw holes into the bark to obtain the sap with their teeth and can make thousands of holes in a small selection of trees.


Marmoset animals often give birth to twins. This is uncommon; all other primate species generally give birth to only one infant at a time. Sometimes they submit single births or triplets, but these are not very common. The exception is the Goeldi's monkey, who does not deliver twins. 

The gestation period is 4 to 6 months. Male marmosets are commonly the main caregivers to the offspring and remain loyal to their family. They won't leave, even when allured by a sexually mature female.

Just surrounded by a monogamous pair of marmosets will prevent younger ones from sexually maturing. So, they must leave their troop to mate, but customarily, just the monogamous female in the group will conceive in a year. Marmosets live around 5 to 16 years in the wild.

Did You Know?

  • A Common marmoset monkey can give birth to non-identical twins, which is actually a peculiar trait for primates. 

  • Marmosets are quite commonly used for research on human disease and ageing since their bodies are very close to those of humans.

  • Some people prefer to keep Marmosets as pets, but they are highly difficult to care for. For example, they need a very particular diet and access to UV light to remain healthy.

  • Common marmoset monkeys are regarded to be the best species able to adapt to human changes in their environment.

  • A Common marmoset monkey was first introduced in southeastern Brazil by humans where it has cultivated so successfully

  • The species are regularly spotted in the marginal park districts of Rio de Janeiro.

Fun Facts on Marmoset Animal

  • "Marmoset" is derived from the French "marmouset" which implies shrimp or dwarf. An apt name, reckoning they are the tiniest of the true monkeys (the lightest of the true monkeys is the pygmy marmoset).

  • Marmoset monkeys use their specialized claws to launch a firm grip on tree trunks and gnaw little holes in the bark using their lower canines and incisors. This induces the tree to yield more sap, which is then used to seal injuries to the bark. 

  • This tree sap is a precious source of minerals and carbohydrates.

  • Common Marmosets live in mixed-gender groups of up to 13 individuals. 

  • Only the head male and female marmoset animals will produce offspring.

  • The process that allegedly represses reproduction in lower-ranking females is still under study. 

  • Pygmy marmoset families have territories tagged by scent. This notifies neighboring troops to leave each other alone.


Since they are so small, pygmy marmoset monkeys can become prey for cats, snakes, hawks, and harpy eagles. That is the reason they scamper from one safe spot to the next. Their neck is pliable, and they can turn their head backwards to locate predators. They are conscious about their movements in order to avert off drawing the attention of predators. But when they require moving, pygmy marmosets are quick, leaping some feet to avoid the predators which would like to make a meal out of them.

FAQs on Marmoset

Q1. What is the Ecology and Conservation of Marmoset?

Answer: Callitrichids are not poached for food, nor do they compete with domestic populations for food. Their preservation is chiefly dependent on the continued existence of steady forest habitat. Because they breed well in captivity, a marmoset monkey is commonly used in medical and biological research labs. Such practices impose pressure on their populations.

The competency to climb is crucial for pygmy marmosets because tree sap is their favourite food. They dash up and down trees and thick vines headfirst and scoop out a hole in the bark or vine with their serrated lower teeth, using an up and down hacking motion. When the sap splashes up in the hole, they lap it up with their tongue. Pygmy marmosets can make up to 1,300 holes in certain trees! Sometimes they lie in wait for insects, particularly butterflies that feed at the sap holes. The marmosets also eat fruit and nectar from flowers.

Q2. What is the Conservation Status of the Common Marmoset?

Answer: The Buffy-headed marmoset monkey is the only marmoset registered as endangered, as per the International Union for Conservation of Nature's Red List of Threatened Species. It is approximate that there are only about 2,500 mature individuals left. Many species are registered as vulnerable. Few of these include Goeldi's marmoset, Rondon's marmoset and the black-crowned dwarf marmoset.

Wied's marmoset is registered as near threatened. It is believed that the species has lost 20 to 25 % of its population over the last 18 years. The slump is mostly because of habitat loss.

Q3. What is the Family Life of a Common Marmoset?

Answer: A Pygmy marmoset monkey lives in broadened families, called troops, of up to nine monkeys with an average of five members. In general, the troop consists of a breeding pair, their babies, and any of their adult kids. The parents remain together for life. Living in a group is beneficial for pygmy marmoset monkeys. There are more pairs of eyes to locate predators, and everyone helps attend to the little ones. For added safety, the troop spends the night among thick vines or in a tree hole.

A mother marmoset animal's gestation period is about 4.5 months. The female marmoset can give birth every 5 to 7 months. She typically has two babies, but in zoos, marmoset monkeys have had three or even four babies in one litter. Each newborn marmoset is the same size as a human thumb! The father helps in the delivery of the babies, cleans them up, and then takes their care. Male marmoset carries the newborns piggyback style for the initial two weeks, bringing them back to the mother for nursing. Older siblings may extend help, too. When they are somewhat older, the babies hide while the rest of their family looks for food until they are grown and strengthened enough to travel with the group.

In general, the young marmosets reconcile and can follow the group by three months of age. It takes them approximately two years to grow as large as the adults.

Q4. How Do Pygmy Marmosets Communicate?

Answer: Marmoset monkeys communicate with each other by chirping and chattering in high-pitched voices. They can make sounds in a soprano that are so high-pitched enabling humans to hear them. Certain calls and squeaks express threats or other urgent monkey messages. They also make faces to convey emotions like contentment, surprise, or danger by moving their lips, ears, eyelids and hair around the face. These mini monkeys are sought-after to groom one another, and that enables them to establish social bonds. They are over-particular about keeping their fur in good shape. 

Q5. What is the Difference Between Marmosets and Apes?

Answer: The differences between monkeys and apes are easy to observe once you know what to look for. Apes do not possess a tail and are usually larger than most other primates. They even possess a more upright body posture. Apes are dependent more on vision than on smell and bear a short broad nose instead of a snout, as Old World monkeys do.

Old World monkeys are usually from Asia and Africa while New World monkeys are from the Americas. In Old World monkeys, the nostrils are narrow and face downward. While the New World monkeys have round nostrils facing to the side. Old World primates are generally bigger than New Worlds. Many of the Old World monkeys are somewhat terrestrial.