14 Finger Monkey (Marmoset) Facts

The Animal Kingdom contains a wide range of fascinating creatures from frill-necked lizards to the Mexican walking fish. You must have heard of finger puppets, but today we will introduce you to the ever-intriguing Marmosets, more commonly known as finger monkeys.

These exotic animals are tiny creatures resembling a monkey that will, without a doubt, have you wrapped around their finger (pun intended). They have quickly become popular pets and are high in demand because of their playful nature. If you are wondering about these adorable mini-monkeys, we have all the information you need to know. Read on to learn some interesting things about Marmosets.

1. Finger Monkeys’ Tails Are Twice The Length Of Their Bodies

Marmosets are the smallest true monkeys weighing only about 100 grams or 3.7 ounces. The average body weight of an adult female is usually more than that of an adult male. Even more interesting is that the tail of these finger monkeys is at most times longer than the entire length of the rest of their bodies. Their heads and bodies can grow up to a combined size of 4.5 to 6 inches. The tails of finger monkeys can grow anywhere from 7 to a maximum of 9 inches! 

2. They Can Leap 15 Feet Into The Air!

These new world monkeys originate from the tropical habitats of rainforests in the Western Amazon. They can be found in Colombia, Brazil, Ecuador, and Peru. Marmosets spend more than half their time tree gouging and are well-adapted to do so since they are able to leap 15 feet into the air. Instead of having fingernails, they have claws that allow them to scamper tree trunks and branches with speed and ease.

They need water to survive but are not known to be strong swimmers. Due to this, they congregate around small ponds and lakes to keep away from the strong currents of the rivers.

3. Finger Monkeys Have Existed On Earth For 3 Million Years

The name “Marmoset” is derived from the French word “marmouset,” which loosely translates to shrimp or dwarf. Finger monkeys are further categorized into Cebuella Pygmaea (also referred to as the Western pygmy marmoset) and the other one known as Cebuella Niveiventris (also known as the Eastern pygmy marmosets). These two species are separated in the range by rivers in Central and South America. Both of these species have been evolving separately for around 3 million years. Their scientific name Callithrix is derived from Ancient Greek and translates to ‘beautiful fur.’

4. Finger Monkeys Are Highly Adaptable

The highly adaptable nature of marmosets and their openness to change in varying environments is one of the most prominent reasons for the continuation of their population. The common marmoset is considered the best species with the ability to adapt to human changes in their environment. Their high birth rate and low infant mortality rate are also two main contributing factors.

These finger monkeys have successfully managed to keep themselves off the endangered list of animals. According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), these new world monkeys are a species of least concern which means that their numbers are plentiful enough to sustain the species. 

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5. Marmosets Live In Communities & Are Very Social Animals

Marmosets are a tight-knit group of animals. They bond with each other by engaging in several activities including, but not limited to, grooming each other, sourcing food together, and sleeping huddled together close to where they eat. Finger monkeys keep themselves occupied with such activities from waking up till late afternoon. They usually make roosts at night and then retreat back to their sleeping areas.

6. Finger Monkeys Can Make Sounds We Can’t Even Hear

Humans aren’t the only animals that enjoy gossip. Finger monkeys have mastered the ability to communicate through long distances by making a bird-like call. They can also alter their calls according to their social environment, imitate the calls of other group members, and come up with new calls for a new mate. Some of their vocalizations lie within the ultrasonic spectrum, which is not audible to humans. Marmosets also communicate with each other through visual cues and scent marks. 

7. Finger Monkeys Feed On Tree Gum

The diet of finger monkeys includes flowers, fruits, insects, small lizards, spiders, and several other small reptiles. Although, their diet is primarily made up of  tree gum which earns them the name “gummivores” or “exudativores.” They also enjoy any fluid from trees and prefer tree sap, resin, etc.

They are known to gnaw little holes in the bark of the trees with their lower incisors and canines. This causes the tree to produce more sap, which is used to seal injuries to the bark. The tree sap is a valuable source of carbohydrates and minerals. With limited home ranges, marmosets have evolved to feed on tree sap as they can not rely solely on fruits. Their digestive tracts have also adapted to digest gum. 

8. Marmosets Live In Family Groups Known As Troops

Being the very social animals they are, it comes as no surprise that finger monkeys form family groups. Normally, each family group comprises of 2 to 6 individuals, but marmosets can live in mixed-sex groups of up to 13 individuals.

The troop usually consists of a single male, a female, and children. There may be other adults in the group, but only the head male and female will produce offspring. Since the females can get pregnant at any time of the year, there is no specific time when marmosets decide to leave the troop. Typically, finger monkeys are monogamous, meaning they mate for life. 

9. Finger Monkeys Can Be Very Aggressive & Territorial

Do not let their miniature size fool you…these finger monkeys are the loudest among other small breeds. Marmosets can be expected to resort to aggressive yelling and screaming if not petted or fed at their designated time. Female marmosets specifically tend to display high rates of aggression toward adult female intruders. While the dominant males show aggression toward other male finger monkeys who try to mate with their female finger monkeys. 

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10. Marmoset Babies Babble Just Like Human Babies

One of the most intriguing facts about the marmosets is their impressive language skills. Similar to human infants, the baby marmoset babbles at the initial stage after being born to hone its communication skills. Vocalization is crucial for their survival, and just like humans, it is imperative for their babies to learn how to talk. 

11. Almost All Finger Monkeys Are Born Twins

As they are known to form stable social groups, it is no surprise that most marmosets are born as twins. The gestation period of a marmoset is approximately four and a half months. The breeding female will then produce twins twice a year in most cases. Sometimes finger monkeys may give birth to one or three babies, but twins are the most common.

Female finger monkeys can have up to 4 succeeding litters in a lifetime. When marmosets are babies, their fathers bear the responsibility of being the primary caretaker. The baby finger monkeys ride on the back of the father, who also carries the babies to their mother when it is time to nurse them. 

12. They Fall Out Of Trees And Become Prey

These arboreal animals have evolved to best adapt to their surroundings by growing claws to move around trees, and have a better grip on tree branches instead of opposable thumbs like other monkeys. While their infant mortality rate is as low as 25%, the main reason for that number is infants falling to the ground after slipping away from their mothers. 

13. They Can Turn Their Head Backwards Halfway

Marmosets have the ability to turn their heads 180 degrees backward which helps them get a 360-degree view of the surrounding areas while looking for predators on the tree branch. Despite this, finger monkeys can quickly fall prey to hawks, snakes, ocelots, and especially eagles.

14. Finger Monkeys Have A Lifespan Of Nearly 20 Years

A healthy finger monkey can be expected to live in captivity for anywhere between 15 to 20 years. Even though these animals are not typically considered pets, they have now been domesticated for many years with humans.

Although they are not suitable pets if you have small children or are not around much since these mini-monkeys need lots of attention and like to stick to their routines. They can be temperamental at times and may misbehave by biting or scratching. Since they live such long lives, keeping them as a pet is considered a long-term commitment that should not be taken lightly.

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Nadine Oraby

My name is Nadine; I am a passionate writer and a pet lover. People usually call me by the nickname “Joy” because they think that I am a positive and joyful person who is a child at heart. My love for animals triggered me to create this blog. Articles are written by vets, pet experts, and me. Thanks for visiting. Your friend, Nadine!

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