Cotton-top Tamarin Saguinus oedipus (S. o. oedipus)


Status: Endangered


The cotton-top tamarin is a small monkey about the size of a squirrel.† It weighs less than 0.5 kg (1 lb).† The speciesí most distinguishing characteristics are the crest and mane on its head, both white. Its face is black, and its temples and the sides of its head are covered with short silvery hairs. Its back is primarily black or brown, while the underparts of the body, arms, and legs are predominantly white. Fruits and insects comprise the majority of the cotton-top tamarin's diet. It is arboreal and diurnal, arising an hour after dawn and retiring well before dark.† Foraging generally takes place in mid-lower strata of the forest. Sleeping sites are in the upper canopy, where a cotton-top tamarin sleeps on a wide branch or forking branches or amid tufts of leafy vegetation.

Distribution: †endemic to Colombia.


THREATS: From 1960 - 1975, as many as 30,000 - 40,000 cotton-top tamarins were exported to the USA, in addition to those exported to other countries. This export trade was primarily for biomedical research, mainly because the cotton-top tamarinís tendency to develop colon cancer made it an ideal subject for in-depth studies. All exportation from Colombia has been outlawed since 1974, but some illegal exportation continues. Currently, deforestation for agriculture, fuel, and housing is the greatest threat to the survival of the cotton-top tamarin. Collection for the local pet trade in Colombia and continuing illegal exportation are also of concern.


POPULATION: Less than 2500.