Interesting facts about golden lion tamarins

golden lion tamarin

The golden lion tamarin also known as the golden marmoset is a small New World monkey.

It is native to the Atlantic coastal forests of Brazil.

Golden lion tamarin reside in dense forest that is entangled with many vines and has a high density of fruit.

They occupy the closed canopy, often remaining 10 to 30 meters (33 to 100 feet) off the ground.

The golden lion tamarin is an endangered species. The range for wild individuals is spread across four places along southeastern Brazil, with a recent census estimating 3,200 individuals left in the wild and a captive population maintaining about 490 individuals among 150 zoos.


The lifespan for sugar golden lion tamarin is about 15 years in the wild, and 20 years or more in captivity.

This small monkey is between 20 and 37 cm (8 and 13 inches) long with a tail length of between 31 and 40 cm (12 and 15 inches). It weigh around 620 g (1.37 lb).

The golden lion tamarin gets its name from its bright reddish orange pelage and the extra long hairs around the face and ears which give it a distinctive mane.

As with all New World monkeys, the golden lion tamarin has tegulae, which are claw-like nails, instead of ungulae or flat nails found in all other primates, including humans.


Tegulae enable tamarins to cling to the sides of tree trunks. They also move quadrupedally along the small branches, whether through walking, running, leaping or bounding. This gives it a locomotion more similar to squirrels than primates.

The golden lion tamarin is active for a maximum of 12 hours daily.

Tamarin groups use hollow tree cavities, dense vines or epiphytes as sleeping sites.

It uses different sleeping dens each day. By frequently moving their sleeping nests around, groups minimize the scent left behind, reducing the likelihood of predators finding them.


The golden lion tamarin is omnivorous. It eats spiders, snails, small lizards, eggs, small birds, fruits and vegetables. They eat insects using their long, slender fingers to probe into crevices in the tree bark. This technique is called “micromanipulation.”

Golden lion tamarins are a social species. In the wild, they are found in groups of 2-8, often made up of family members.

They are highly territorial and groups will defend their home range boundaries and resources from other groups.


The mating system of the golden lion tamarin is largely monogamous. Females give birth usually to twins after a gestation of 130 to 135 days. The rearing of youngs is a cooperative effort by all in the group.

The home of the golden lion tamarin is one of the most densely populated parts of Brazil. The major cause of the animal’s decline has been — and continues to be — the clearing of its forest habitat.

The species was listed as Endangered by the IUCN in 1982.


At one time, people captured and sold golden lion tamarins as pets. Their rapid decline in numbers has thwarted many people’s desires for these exotic pets.

The golden lion tamarin is one of the rarest of all mammals in the wild.

There is hope because they have been bred successfully in captivity and this is continually raising their numbers. Reintroduction into the wild has been successful.

The National Zoo in Washington, D.C. and the Rio de Janeiro Primate Center have exchanged golden lion tamarins in an effort to prevent members of the same family from mating. This helps keep captive populations of the animal as genetically diverse as possible.

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