Meet the smallest monkey in the world
Monday 20 June 2005
Check out a model family on your next visit to London Zoo, by paying a visit to our Happy Families enclosure to see our pygmy marmosets
The pygmy marmoset is the smallest monkey in the world; adults grow to a height of 11-15cm and have a 17-22cm long tail. Extremely agile, our pygmy marmosets move swiftly, running, leaping and jumping, using their sharp claws to cling to branches. In the wild they eat mainly tree sap, which they gather by boring a hole in tree bark, and supplement their diet with small lizards, insects and fruit.
As in the wild, our pygmy marmosets live in a small family group: mum and dad and their three daughters. Once they reach sexual maturity, pygmy marmosets form monogamous couples and usually give birth to fraternal twins. When the twins are two weeks old, their father and older siblings begin to take their share of the parental responsibilities by carrying the babies on their backs between feeds.
Pygmy marmosets come from northern South America and live in seasonally flooded rainforest, near rivers and sometime on the boundaries of farmland. Active during the day, these tree dwellers are rarely seen on the forest floor. At present pygmy marmosets are not endangered partly because of their ability to adapt to changes to their habitat caused by human disturbance.
There are many species of marmoset in the world, some, critically endangered like the Geoffroy’s marmoset. To ensure the continued survival of many of the world’s threatened species, breeding programmes, like those in operation at the Zoological Society of London (ZSL) are essential.