Ornate titi monkey (Callicebus ornatus)

Synonyms: Callicebus cupreus ornatus
GenusCallicebus (1)

Classified as Vulnerable (VU) on the IUCN Red List (1) and listed on Appendix II of CITES (2).

The ornate titi monkey is the smallest member of the Pitheciidae family, a group that includes the titis, uakaris and saki monkeys. It has a thick, dense, fluffy, red coat, with lighter coloured fur across the brow and covering the hands and feet. The tail is dark reddish-brown at the base, fading to white towards the tip and, like most titi monkeys, the tail is longer than the length of the body. Male and female ornate titi monkeys do not differ significantly in appearance (3).

The ornate titi monkey is endemic to Colombia (1).

The ornate titi monkey typically occurs in lowland tropical forests, from sea level up to about 1,000 metres, in areas where the canopy is between 15 and 20 metres in height (4).

This diurnal primate lives in family groups of two to six individuals, including a monogamous pair (5), and in these social groups grooming may account for approximately ten percent of the day’s activity. The closeness of these groups is also illustrated by the fact that individuals have been known to intertwine their tails as they sit together (6). As a territorial species, the ornate titi monkey performs duet calls in the morning in order to mark its territory (6). It is primarily an arboreal species that searches amongst the treetops for its diet of fruits (often unripe), insects and leaves, and rarely forages on the ground (6) (7).

The ornate titi monkey breeds seasonally and usually gives birth to a single offspring (7), once a year, during the rainy season (5). A rather unique feature of the ornate titi monkey is that it is the male that provides the majority of the parental care; the male will carry the infant shortly after birth and the infant only returns to the female to feed (6). 

The ornate titi monkey is considered vulnerable to extinction as populations are thought to be declining (1). Unfortunately this species inhabits areas that are being rapidly colonised by humans, and is thus being affected by the associated habitat destruction and fragmentation (1) (4).

Whilst the ornate titi monkey is known to occur in La Macarena National Park and Tinigua National Park (1), even those populations within protected areas are not safe from the threat of habitat destruction, as the activities of insurgents and civil unrest in Colombia has meant that any laws are hard to enforce. Educational campaigns have been recommended as a valuable tool to be used in the conservation of this species, as well as convincing each local land owner of the importance of protecting their own areas of forest (8).

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  1. IUCN Red List (March, 2010)
  2. CITES (March, 2010)
  3. van Roosmalen, M.G.M., van Roosmalen, T. and Mittermeier, R.A. (2002) A taxonomic review of titi monkeys, genus Callicebus Thomas, 1903, with the description of two new species, Callicebus bernhardi and Callicebus stephennashi, from Brazilian Amazonia. Neotropical Primates, 10: 1-51.
  4. Fleagle, J.G. (1999) Primate Adaptation and Evolution. San Diego Academic Press, San Diego.
  5. Fedigan, L.M. (1992) Primate Paradigms: Sex Roles and Social Bonds. The University of Chicago Press, London.
  6. Macdonald, D.W. (2006) The Encyclopaedia of Mammals. Oxford University Press, Oxford.
  7. Hutchins, M. and Schlager, N. (2004) Grizmek’s Animal Life Encyclopedia. Volume 14, Mammals III. Gale Cengage, Washington.
  8. Defler, T.R., Rodriguez, J.V. and Hernández-Camacho, J.I. (2003) Conservation priorities for Colombian primates. Primate Conservation, 19: 10-18.