The Emperor Tamarin

10th July 2010

The Emperor Tamarin is a tamarin allegedly named for its similarity with the German emperor Wilhelm II. The name was first intended as a joke, but has become the official scientific name. This tamarin lives in the southwest Amazon Basin, in east Peru, north Bolivia and in the west Brazilian states of Acre and Amazonas.

 

The fur of the Emperor Tamarin is predominantly grey colored, with yellowish speckles on its chest. The hands and feet are black and the tail is brown. Outstanding is its long, white mustache, which extends to both sides beyond the shoulders. The animal reaches a length of 24 to 26 cm, plus a 35 cm long tail. It weighs approximately 300 to 400 g.

 

This primate inhabits tropical rain forests, living deep in the forest and also in open tree-covered areas. It is a diurnal animal, spending the majority of its days in the trees with quick, safe movements and broad jumps among the limbs.

 

The Emperor Tamarin lives together in groups of two to eight animals. The oldest female leads the group above several mature males. The mutual grooming plays an important role for bonding and socializing. The animals often associate themselves with other tamarins like the Brown-mantled Tamarin. It has various cries which help them to promptly recognize interlopers.


The diet of the Emperor Tamarin is similar to that of other tamarins. It is an omnivore, primarily eating fruits, insects and sap. It also eats bird eggs and small vertebrates (such as tree frogs). Due to its small weight it can reach food at the far end of branches, which are not accessible to heavier animals.

 

The Emperor Tamarin lives a polyandrous life, i.e. the mature female mates with all of the males of her harem. Gestation is 140 to 145 days, and births are typically twins (although triplets happen on occasion) as is typical of tamarins.

 

All the males, father or not, help with the birth, care, and support the young, carrying them and bringing them to the mother to nurse. At approximately three months they are weaned, and towards end of the second year they are fully mature. Its life expectancy is over 15 years.

 

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