Animal Facts

Emperor Tamarin

Scientific Name: Saguinus imperator

Fast Fact:

The emperor tamarin was named for Emperor Franz Joseph of Austria, who had a similar looking moustache.

Emperor Tamarin

Although emperor tamarins weigh less than one pound, they have a gregarious attitude that makes them seem much larger.

Status: The emperor tamarin is listed as Least Concern by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

Habitat: Emperor tamarins are native to extreme southeastern Peru, northwestern Brazil and northwestern Bolivia. They are found along the edges of the forests as well as in the tall tropical rainforests.

Diet: Tamarins are omnivorous. They eat fruit and large-bodied insects such as grasshoppers. They also eat leaves, shoots, small vertebrates and exudates such as gums, sap and resin.

Physical Characteristics: The emperor tamarin is gray with a silvery-brown crown and a reddish-orange tail. A prominent feature is the elongated moustache. They are slender and small, weighing nine to 14 ounces.

Pregnancy for emperor tamarins lasts for 140-145 days. They normally give birth to twins although single births and triplets also occur. The infants weigh 19% of the mother’s weight. That is equivalent to a 120 pound human giving birth to two 11 ½ pound infants. Females become sexually mature at 18 months and males at two years.

It Takes a Village

The father helps with the birth. The mother cleans the babies and the father chews off the umbilical cord and consumes the placenta. After the first or second week, the mother only carries the babies to nurse them. The father and the other members of the group carry them on their backs until they are about twelve weeks old. After being weaned, the babies beg for food from all of the family members. At one year of age, they begin to forage for food themselves.

Emperor tamarins live in groups of two to as many as fifteen animals. Only the dominant female gives birth to infants. It is believed that the female secretes chemicals that suppress ovulation in the other sexually mature females. In any case, as long as they are in their own family group, non-dominant adult females do not ovulate. Once they are introduced to unrelated males, they begin to ovulate and usually become pregnant within eight days.

Rocket Fuel