Marmoset vs. Tamarin

Marmoset vs. Tamarin

Marmoset and tamarin are types of small monkeys that belong to the family Callitrichidae. There are 22 species of marmoset and 18 species of tamarin that can be found in tropical rainforests and open forests of Central and South America. Unlike other monkeys, marmosets and tamarins have sharp claws instead of nails on their fingers (only big toes are covered with nails). This primitive feature is essential for arboreal lifestyle that is typical for these animals. Many marmosets and tamarins are classified as endangered due to accelerated habitat loss. Despite many similarities in the morphology and lifestyle, marmosets and tamarins differ in few aspects that can be used for identification of each group:


Marmosets can reach 5 to 12 inches in length (not including 7 to 16-inches long tail) and 3.5 to 18 ounces of weight. Pygmy marmoset is the smallest species of monkey in the world with 5 to 6 inches in length and 3.5 to 4.5 ounces of weight. Tamarins can reach 5 to 12 inches in length (not including 10 to 17-inches long tail) and 7.7 to 32 ounces of weight.

Color of the Fur

Marmosets are covered with soft fur that usually consists of grey, yellow and brown hairs. Many marmosets have ear tufts and dark bands on the tail. Tamarins also have very soft coat that can be completely black, golden or combination of black, brown and white fur. Prominent mustaches and manes around the face are typical for many tamarins.

Teeth and Diet

Marmosets have large incisors which are equal in length with canine teeth. Unusual size of teeth facilitates drilling of holes in the trees and extraction of tree sap and gum - their favorite food. Aside from plant exudates, marmosets like to eat insects, snail, small birds and lizards. Tamarins have short incisors and long canine teeth which are designed for biting and chewing. They like to eat fruit, spiders, birds eggs and insects.

Life in the Group

Both marmosets and tamarins are active during the day (diurnal animals). Marmosets live in family groups made of 3 to 15 animals. Each group consists of 2 adult females, one adult male and their offspring. Tamarins live in large groups of up to 40 animals. Each group is made of one or more families.


Pregnancy in marmosets lasts around 150 days and ends with 1 to 3 babies. Pregnancy in tamarins lasts 140 days and ends with twins. Both marmosets and tamarins are devoted parents which raise their offspring with a help of all members of the group.


Marmosets are more aggressive than tamarins. They are especially aggressive when they protect their territories and family members.

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