See Our Live Penguin Cam!
Check out Edinburgh Zoo's penguins with our LIVE Penguin Cam.
Plan Your Visit
Find out how to make the most of your trip and book tickets here.
How you can help
The natural world needs our help...and we need yours! Please consider making a donation to support our conservation, education and research work, both within our parks and across the world.
|Common Name:||Eastern pygmy marmoset||Family:||Callitrichidae|
|Latin Name:||Callithrix pygmaea nivieventris||Diet:||Omnivore|
|Native To:||South America||Social Unit:||Group|
|IUCN Red List Status:||Least concern|
Eastern pygmy marmosets at Edinburgh Zoo
Edinburgh Zoo has a large family group of white bellied pygmy marmosets who live in the Magic Forest.
Terminator our adult male was born here in 2009. He has become a mate for our female She-ra who was born in 2007. They currently have two sons from previous years and they have just welcomed a set of twins on 1 January 2013.
Where it can be found at Edinburgh Zoo
Eastern pygmy marmosets in the wild
Eastern pygmy marmosets (Callithrix pygmaea nivieventris) are the smallest primate in the world, and weigh about 6 oz. They are found in Brazil, Ecuador and Peru. Their habitat includes floodplain forest, which is close to rivers, the edges of agricultural fields, secondary growth forest, and also areas of bamboo.
A family group of pygmy marmosets is made up of an adult male and female, the main breeding pair, and offspring of varying ages. The group size can be as many as 15. The adult male and previous offspring carry the newborns, while the female does none of the parental care—she only has to feed them.
A group of pygmy marmosets have a territory which they patrol daily, and will defend it from other pygmy groups that happen to cross into it. They will do this with the whole group working together.
The wild diet of pygmy marmosets is mostly tree gum, and makes up about 60-70 percent of their diet. The bottom jaw of the pygmy marmoset is V-shaped to allow it to make holes in the tree bark. These holes let the tree’s gum flow out, and then the pygmies lick it up. A pygmy group will visit these trees throughout the day to eat the gum.
Other parts of the pygmy marmoset’s diet include fruit, insects, lizards, and spiders. During the dry season, when there are fewer insects and fruits around, nectar is very important to the pygmies.
Pygmy marmosets forage for insects in small and medium-sized trees and in vine tangles. They rarely go down to the ground, but will do so to catch grasshoppers. Larger insects are a favourite food, as they have more protein in them and are worth the extra effort in catching. Pygmies jump on the insects to catch them. They can eat larger insects than would be expected for their small size!
The eastern pygmy marmosets display a threat by turning around and lifting their tail to show their genitalia, and sometimes also urinate while doing this.
Pygmy marmosets often share the same area as spix black-mantled tamarins (S. Nigricollis). These tamarins can benefit from living with pygmy marmosets by visiting the trees that the marmosets have gouged the gum from. Tamarins are unable to gouge the tree bark to get tree gum, because their teeth are U-shaped.
Breeding programme category:
IUCN Red List category: Least concern
View our other animal profiles: