Marmosets in the wild

Where Can I See the World’s Smallest Monkey?

The Tiny Pygmy Marmoset

Extraordinary animals fascinate humans. Weather it’s a tiny puppy, exotic bird, or a massive gorilla, something about unique physical or behavioral attributes attracts the eye. In this vein, marmosets recieve a lot of attention for their tiny size, exotic habitat and big personality. In South America, 22 species of marmosets reside in the trees, but the pygmy marmoset (also known as the finger monkey) is the world’s smallest true monkey.

Exploring the forest canopy near the Amazon River, pygmy marmosets live a life far above the rest of the world. Their habitat ranges throughout the western Amazon Basin, including Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru and Bolivia, and their population depends on the available tree and food resources.  Following the river’s shoreline, they use the trees as a source of food, protection and shelter.

An Arboreal Habitat 

Pygmy Marmosets

Among the Trees

Tree-dwelling, or arboreal animals have different adaptations than those who live on the forest floor. For pygmy marmosets, everything from the shape of their body to the color of their fur is innately used to live among the leaves. Long tails used for grasping branches, brown striped fur, and even their long claws are used to maneuver around branches and hide from predators. With bodies that have evolved for life among the trees, pygmy marmosets are one of the most exotic arboreal animals in the Amazon.

The trees also provide food for these tiny animals, which indulges the marmoset’s sweet tooth. Their diet is based around the tree gum or sap that they find underneath the bark, a good source of water, nutrients and sugar. Their sharp teeth gnaw on the tree bark and long claws dig the sap out of the the hole. To round out their sugar-filled diet, they munch on nectar and fruit when it’s available. Even butterflies, also drawn to the tree sap, can become their lunch.

Pygmy Marmosets: Active & Social

Like humans, most monkey species are social creatures. Their need for companionship, touch and community keeps their groups tight-knit. Family groups of 2-9 pygmy marmosets typically include a male, 1-2 females and their offspring. With twins being born twice per year, parenting responsibilities are shared with the group. The frequency that twins are born has been studied by scientists to help human parents as well. Marmoset babies are extremely small, and twins are known to (adorably) take piggyback rides on their parent’s back as they scamper through the trees. Their active, social personalities make marmosets even more intriguing.

Seeing exotic animals in the wild is a big draw of visiting the Amazon Rainforest. From birds to monkeys, the fauna in this region is unlike anywhere else in the world. In Ecuador, pygmy marmosets are found throughout the Amazon Rainforest, especially close to the river. With an Achuar naturalist to guide hikes, motorized canoe rides, and kayaking, guests on Gondwana’s Amazon Awakening tour will get a first hand look at the biodiversity of the rainforest.

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