Geoffroy's Tamarin (Saguinus geoffroyi)

The Geoffroy's tamarin has nonopposable thumbs and the nails of the digits are claw-like except for the first digit on each toe. Unlike the marmosets, this species, like all tamarins, has canines that are larger than the incisors, and their teeth morphology does not allow them to gnaw into the bark for gum (exudates) like the marmosets (Fleagle, 1988). The mean adult body mass for this species is 486 grams (Dawson, 1976).

The Geoffroy's tamarin lives in dry deciduous forests (Kinzey, 1997). This species is found in the countries of Colombia, Costa Rica, and Panama.

The Geoffroy's tamarin forages for a number of food items including: insects, ripe fruits, gum (exudates), and nectar (Kinzey, 1997). When they feed on exudates (gum) they cling vertically with their claws embedded into the bark of the tree (Kinzey, 1997). They can only forage upon exudates (gum) that is already coming out of the tree by other means (Kinzey, 1997). This species forages for insects in the lower canopy and shrub layer, and finds its prey on the leafy substrates of small flexible branches (Garber, 1993). In order to avoid nocturnal predators the Geoffroy's tamarin carefully selects its sleeping site (Dawson, 1979) as well as going into torpor (Moynihan, 1970). The Geoffroy's tamarin swallows seeds whole, but they come out intact in the feces. Garber and Kitron (1997) proposed that there could be three reasons for the Geoffroy's tamarin to do this: swallowing seeds whole make them less vulnerable to aerial predators (don't have to take time to chew), swallowing seeds may enhance feeding efficiency, and swallowing seeds may be used to expel parasites from the digestive tract. This is an arboreal species.

This diurnal species walks or runs quadrupedally through the forest, and is capable of leaping between branches (Snowdon and Soini, 1988). This species can also cling to the side of the tree, embedding its claws into the bark (Kinzey, 1997).

The Geoffroy's tamarin has a multimale-multifemale social system (Kinzey, 1997). The groups consist of unrelated adults, and the main mating system is polyandry, with monogamy and polygyny being reported (Kinzey, 1997). The offspring are cared for by all adult group members, which includes the males (Kinzey, 1997).


This species scent-marks in areas where group home ranges overlap (Dawson, 1979).

circumanal marking: This is when a Geoffroy's tamarin rubs the substrate with the circumanal areas in a sitting position; this is the most frequent marking behavior for this species (Epple et al., 1993).

suprapubic marking: This is when an individual presses the suprapubic pad against a substrate and deposits secretions by pulling itself along or by pushing itself with its feet (Epple et al., 1993).



The Geoffroy's tamarin gives birth to twins like most callitrichids (Kinzey, 1997).

Dawson, G.A. 1976. Behavioral Ecology of the Panamanian Tamarin, Saguinus oedipus (Callitrichidae, Primates). University Microfilms International, Ann Arbor.

Dawson, G.A. 1979. The Use of Time and Space by the Panamanian Tamarin, Saguinus geoffroyi. Folia Primatologica. Vol. 31, 253-284.

Epple, G., Belcher, A.M., Kuderling, I., Zeller, U., Scolnick, L., Greenfield, K.L., Smith III, A.B. 1993. Making Sense Out of Scents: Species Differences in Scent Glands, Scent-marking Behaviour, and Scent-mark Composition in the Callitrichdae. in Marmosets and Tamarins: Systematics, Behaviour, and Ecology. ed. Anthony B. Rylands, Oxford University Press.

Fleagle, J. G. 1988. Primate Adaptation and Evolution. Academic Press.

Garber, P.A. 1993. Feeding, Ecology, and Behaviour of the Genus Saguinus. in Marmosets and Tamarins: Systematics, Behaviour, and Ecology. ed Anthony B. Rylands. Oxford University Press.

Garber, P.A. and Kitron, U. 1997. Seed Swallowing in Tamarins: Evidence of a Curative Function or Enhanced Foraging Efficiency? International Journal of Primatology. Vol. 18, (4), 523-538.

Kinzey, W.G. 1997. Saguinus. in New World Primates: Ecology, Evolution, and Behavior. ed. Warren G. Kinzey, Aldine de Gruyter, New York.

Moynihan, M. 1970. Some Behavior Patterns of Platyrrhine Monkeys II. Saguinus geoffroyi and Some Other Tamarins.Smithson. Contr. Zool. (28), 1-77.

Snowdon, C.T. and Soini, P. 1988. The Tamarins, Genus Saguinus. in Ecology and Behavior of Neotropical Primates, Vol. 2 PP. 223-298. Eds, R.A. Mittermeier, A.B. Rylands, A.F. Coimbra-Filho, and G.A.B. da Fonseca. Washington, DC: World Wildlife Fund.

Last Updated: May 27, 2007.
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