Cotton-headed Tamarin Saguinus oedipus

Cotton-headed Tamarin Saguinus oedipus

Cotton-headed Tamarin Saguinus oedipus

Critically Endangered

Location: Colombia

Also known as the Cotton Top Tamarin, the Cotton-headed Tamarin lives in the humid forests in the south to dry deciduous forest in the north of Colombia. Although they are recorded from primary and secondary forests.

Cotton-headed Tamarins are plucky #primates living in the rainforests of #Colombia critically endangered on @IUCNredlist threats incl. #palmoil #deforestation. You can help with a #Boycott4Wildlife of supermarket brands

The habitat of the Cotton-top Tamarin Saguinus oedipus is used for large-scale agricultural production (i.e. cattle) and farming, logging, oil palm plantations, and hydroelectric projects that fragment the cotton-top tamarin’s natural range.

Marmosets and tamarins are distinguished from the other monkeys of the New World by their small size, modified claws rather than nails on all digits except the big toe, the presence of two as opposed to three molar teeth in either side of each jaw, and by the occurrence of twin births. They eat fruits, flowers, nectar, plant exudates (gums, saps, latex) and animal prey (including frogs, snails, lizards, spiders and insects).

Tamarins live in extended family groups of between four and 15 individuals, but usually 2-8. Saguinus oedipus lives in groups of 2-9. Neyman (1977, 1979) observed groups of 3-13, Savage et al. (1996a,b) observed reproductively active groups that ranged in size from 3-6 and Gonzalez (2014) observed groups 1- 9. Generally, only one female per group breeds during a particular breeding season.

Habitat destruction through forest clearing is the main cause of this collapse, and the cotton-top has lost more than three-quarters of its original habitat to deforestation,[2] while the lowland forest in which it lives has been reduced to 5% of its historical range.

The illegal pet trade and scientific research have also been cited as factors by the IUCN. While biomedical studies have recently limited their use of this species, illegal capture for the pet trade still plays a major role in endangering the cotton-top.


Conservation efforts for these critically endangered small primates is underway. Read more about Proyecto Tití in Colombia.

Further Information


Rodríguez, V., Defler, T.R., Guzman-Caro, D., Link, A., Mittermeier, R.A., Palacios, E. & Stevenson, P.R. 2020. Saguinus oedipus. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2020: e.T19823A115573819. Downloaded on 31 January 2021.


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Published by Palm Oil Detectives

Hi, I’m Palm Oil Detective’s Editor in Chief. Palm Oil Detectives is partly a consumer website about palm oil in products and partly an online community for writers, artists and musicians to showcase their work and express their love for endangered species. I have a strong voice for creatures great and small threatened by deforestation. With our collective power we can shift the greed of the retail industry and influence big palm oil to stop cutting down forests. Be bold! Be courageous! Join me and stand up for the animals with your art and your supermarket choices!

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