Geoffroy’s marmoset (Callithrix geoffroyi)

Also known as: Geoffroy’s tufted-ear marmoset, white-faced marmoset, white-fronted marmoset
Spanish: Tití De Caba Blanca
GenusCallithrix (1)
SizeHead-and-body length: 20 cm (2)
Tail length: 29 cm (2)
Male weight: 230 – 350 g (2)
Female weight: 190 g (2)

Classified as Least Concern (LC) on the IUCN Red List (1), and listed on Appendix II of CITES (3).

Geoffrey’s marmoset is an exceptionally distinctive monkey, most readily recognised for its conspicuous white cheeks, forehead and throat, which contrast starkly against its elongate black ear-tufts, tan to black face, and dark coat (2). The body is greyish-black mottled with yellow-orange on the upperparts, brown on the underparts, and the long black tail is lightly ringed (2) (4). Like all marmosets, Geoffroy’s marmoset has incisor teeth that are specially adapted to carving out small holes in the trunks of trees, through which they drink the sap and gum that oozes out, which are an important food source (5).

Restricted to small fragments of Atlantic rainforest in East-Central Brazil (Bahia, Espirito Santo and Minas Gerais states) (4) (6).

Found in lowland tropical and subtropical rainforest, frequently where there is secondary growth (1) (7) (8).

Like many primates, Geoffroy’s marmoset is a gregarious, social animal, and typically lives in family groups of eight to ten individuals, consisting of the dominant female, her mate and their offspring, with breeding usually restricted to the dominant pair (2) (5) (6). Young remain within a group, even when adult, and help care for their siblings. These ‘helpers’ gain valuable breeding experience, which may be used when suitable habitat becomes available for them to establish their own territory, as part of a dominant, monogamous breeding pair (5). Dominance is enforced by scent-marking, scolding, cuffing and eye command. This is accentuated in the female by pheromones produced in her scent glands, which inhibit ovulation in subordinate females, preventing them from breeding as long as they remain within the group (6). The dominant female typically gives birth to twins, although singletons and triplets also occur, after a gestation period of around 140 to 148 days (2) (5) (6). The father carries the young, which are completely dependent for the first two weeks (5) (6). After this, all members of the group take turns in carrying. Infants are weaned and independent by five to six months, by which time they are capable of collecting their own food (6). Sexual maturity is reached at about 15 to 18 months of age (6), and individuals live around 10 years (5).

These diurnal, arboreal animals spend the day roaming around territories that may be up to 5 hectares in size, and sleep at night in tree holes or other shelters. Home ranges are overlapping and, although they are not defended, they are marked using scent, which is often smeared around favourite gum holes in trees. The diet includes plant gums and saps, nectar, fruit, insects, invertebrates and other small animals (5). This species has also been known to follow swarms of army ants, which flush many organisms up towards the trees, making them available for the marmosets (8).

Geoffrey’s marmoset has declined in numbers as a result of habitat destruction, capture for the pet trade, for exportation to zoos and for biomedical research, and persecution due to an assumption that they carry yellow fever and malaria (5) (6). Today, habitat destruction poses the greatest threat to this rare primate, which has left it restricted to small forest fragments (5) (6).

Conservation measures are unknown.

For more information on Geoffroy’s marmoset see:

Authenticated (05/02/2007) By Matt Richardson, Living Primates (four vols.) - in press.

  1. IUCN Red List (July, 2014)