Apr 6
Photo of cotton-headed tamarin crouched on branch

Cotton-headed tamarin (Saguinus oedipus)

Species: Cotton-headed tamarin (Saguinus oedipus)

Status: Critically Endangered (CR)

Interesting Fact: The cotton-headed tamarin is named for the long white crest of fur around its otherwise black face.

One of South America’s most endangered primates, the cotton-headed tamarin is found only in Colombia, where it lives in tropical rainforests and dry deciduous forests. This small monkey lives in groups of up to 13 individuals, but only one dominant female in the group breeds, with the other group members helping to care for and carry the young. Like other tamarins and marmosets, the cotton-headed tamarin has claws rather than nails on most of its fingers and toes, allowing it to climb trees more easily, and its long tail aids with balance as the tamarin moves through the forest.

The main threat to the cotton-headed tamarin is the clearance of forests for timber, charcoal, agriculture and human settlement. Many of the remaining patches of forest may be too small to maintain tamarin populations in the long term. This species has also been collected for the pet trade and for biomedical research, but its export has now been banned. Proyecto Tití, a conservation programme for the cotton-headed tamarin, undertakes a range of conservation actions for this species, including field research, education projects, and developing agricultural training programmes and alternative incomes for local communities.

Find out more about cotton-headed tamarin conservation at Proyecto Tití.

Find out more about primate conservation at the IUCN/SSC Primate Specialist Group and Neotropical Primate Conservation.

See images and videos of the cotton-headed tamarin on ARKive.

Liz Shaw, ARKive Text Author