Animal Facts

Golden Lion Tamarin

Scientific Name: Leontopithecus rosalia

Fast Fact:

Unique for primates, a golden lion tamarin’s big toe is the only digit that has a nail; all of their other digits have claws.

Golden Lion Tamarin

These arboreal New World monkeys spend their days searching the trees for food, while their nights are spent sleeping in tree hollows. They are one of many species of tamarin, which are also in the same family as marmosets.   

STATUS: They are listed as Critically Endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). They are victims to loss of habitat as well as forest fragmentation, making it difficult for existing populations to thrive. They are also captured for the illegal pet trade.

HABITAT: This tamarin lives in the rainforest on the eastern coast of Brazil.

DIET:  Golden lion tamarins are omnivorous. They maintain a diet of fruit, insects, spiders and small lizards. Throughout the day, they will spend time searching the forest vines and tree bark for food, using their long slender fingers to probe inside the smallest of crevices.   

PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICS: Although they may seem small at a length of about eleven inches and a weight of around one pound, these particular tamarins are the largest of their family, Callitrichidae. Their name is very fitting to their look: their body is covered in golden orange hair, and they have a lion-like mane around their black face. Their tails can reach up to sixteen inches in length and are not prehensile. Males have well-developed air sacs on their throat that they use to produce a variety of loud calls. For example, when they are angry, golden lion tamarins will expose their sharp canine teeth and produce loud shrieks and whistles. They also have different alarm calls to warn of predators, including a separate call for birds which alerts the other tamarins to take cover in the trees.

Ladies First

Tamarins live in groups which contain a dominant female who is the only one to breed, and she often does so with multiple males. These groups are small and often contain several unrelated males and females, usually with more males. Once the female becomes pregnant, she will usually give birth to twins. This commonality for the Callitrichidae family is unique to those species; most other primates give birth to a single infant. Another distinguishing feature of this family is the group cooperation in raising the young. All members of the group contribute to child-rearing, both males and females alike, and the males generally do most of the carrying of the juveniles.   

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