Tuesday, May 17, 2016


The importance of cotton as a commodity cannot be overstated. We need it! We wear it! We fought over it during the civil war! So, in the immortal words of Eli Whitney, “Keep your cotton-pickin’ hands off my Tamarin!” Oh, that’s not the way it went, but today it’s the way we’re going to say it, because this week we’re meeting a critically endangered primate called the Cotton-Top, or Cotton-Headed Tamarin.

Photo credit: Lisa Hoffner, Wildeyedphoto.com

At one time, this odd looking primate could be found throughout Colombia. Now, it has been confined to the northwestern corner of the country. Deforestation is their greatest threat. Their jungle home has been cleared for roads, agriculture, housing and food production. The trees have been taken down for timber, and charcoal. The fragmented forests that remain after this destruction, are too small to support a healthy tamarin population. As a result, the numbers of this magnificent little primate have declined significantly. over the last few decades. Current population estimates are just 6,000 in the wild.

The Cotton-Topped Tamarin is a very social animal. It lives in groups of 3 to 13 members. They are very territorial and mark their home boundaries, and will become combative with other groups who stray too close to their home range.

These tamarins are territorial, scent marking their home ranges and defending them with showy confrontations, fluffing up their fur and making loud calls to scare away intruders and attract individuals from their own group.” (Macdonald, D. (2001) The New Encyclopedia of Mammals. Oxford University Press, Oxford)

This primate, which weighs less than a pound, is diurnal (active during the day), and arboreal. It eats fruit, insects, vegetation, small mammals and bird eggs. It gets all the moisture it needs by licking leaves wet with dew or rain.

Like other primates, much of their free time is spent grooming each other. They run their claws through each other’s fur looking for and removing any small particles or bugs they may find there.

Photo credit: petsfoto.com

Conservation is key to ensuring the survival of the Cotton-Topped Tamarin. This short video gives you some information about this primate, and what we can do to protect it.

 If you’d like to learn more about this primate, visit the following sites:

My thanks to arkive.org for some of the information and photos. I do hope you’ll return next week for a look at another unusual animal.


Jeanne E. Rogers, Award Winning Author
The Sword of Demelza and The Gift of Sunderland
Middle-Grade Fantasy Where Endangered Animal Heroes Roam the Pages!


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