Saguinus midasMidas tamarin

Geographic Range

The red-handed tamarin lives in northern Brazil, Guyana, French Guiana, and Surinam.


The red-footed tamarins live in trees with small crowns (less than 15 m in diameter).

Physical Description

The head and body measure from 20.5 to 28 cm, the tail from 31.5 to 44 cm. There is no obvious sexual dimorphism. The face is black with long hairs. It does not have the whitish fur around the mouth that is characteristic of other tamarins in the long-tusked tamarin group. The body is also black, except for the hands and feet, which are orange-red or yellow. There are claws on all digits except for the big toe, which has the flattened nail characteristic of primates. Also, the thumb lacks a saddle joint and is not opposable. There are specialized scent glands in the midchest and around the genitalia, the secretions of which are used to mark territory and convey information about identity, status, and sexual receptivity of individuals.

  • Range mass
    400 to 550 g
    14.10 to 19.38 oz


The young are cared for by all adult members of a group, with males and other females assisting at birth and caring for the young when they are not being suckled. There is usually only one breeding female and two or more breeding males in a group. The suppression of reproductive activity in non-dominant females is a result of inhibitory behavior of the dominant female combined with loss of ovulatory capacity in the subordinate female.

Adult tamarins reach sexual maturity at age 16-20 months. One, usually two, or rarely three young are born after a gestation lasting 140-145 days. The young weigh about 45 grams at birth. Weaning occurs at age 2-3 months. Red-footed tamarins live to the age of 10 or more years.

  • Range number of offspring
    1 to 3
  • Average number of offspring
  • Range gestation period
    140 to 145 days
  • Range weaning age
    2 to 3 months
  • Range age at sexual or reproductive maturity (female)
    16 to 20 months
  • Range age at sexual or reproductive maturity (male)
    16 to 20 months

The young are cared for by all adult members of a group, with males and other females assisting at birth and caring for the young when they are not being suckled. Females nurse their young for two to three months.

  • Parental Investment
  • pre-fertilization
    • provisioning
    • protecting
      • female
  • pre-hatching/birth
    • provisioning
      • female
    • protecting
      • female
  • pre-weaning/fledging
    • provisioning
      • female
    • protecting
      • male
      • female


  • Average lifespan
    Status: captivity
    21 years


Red-footed tamarins live in groups of 2-6, consisting of mixed ages and both sexes. They are active by day and hold a territory of approximately 10 hectares. Within the group, there is little intragroup aggression (even among breeding males) and much cooperation and tolerance. They are mostly arboreal, and leap from tree to tree or tree to ground, and have been known to make leaps from as high as 20m to the ground without any sign of injury.

Communication and Perception

Food Habits

Like most tamarins, the red-footed tamarin eats mainly insects, ripe fruit, and plant exudates such as sap, gum, and resin. It also includes nectar, tender vegetation, spiders, small vertebrates, and birds' eggs in its diet. Prey is killed with a bite to the head.

  • Animal Foods
  • eggs
  • insects
  • terrestrial non-insect arthropods
  • Plant Foods
  • leaves
  • fruit
  • nectar
  • sap or other plant fluids

Conservation Status

The destruction of tropical rainforest threatens the habitat of the red-footed tamarin, ultimately threatening the livelihood of the species.

Other Comments

The main enemies of the red-footed tamarin are small cats, birds of prey, and snakes.


Emily Cloyd (author), University of Michigan-Ann Arbor, Phil Myers (editor), Museum of Zoology, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor.



living in the southern part of the New World. In other words, Central and South America.

World Map


Referring to an animal that lives in trees; tree-climbing.

bilateral symmetry

having body symmetry such that the animal can be divided in one plane into two mirror-image halves. Animals with bilateral symmetry have dorsal and ventral sides, as well as anterior and posterior ends. Synapomorphy of the Bilateria.


uses smells or other chemicals to communicate

cooperative breeder

helpers provide assistance in raising young that are not their own

  1. active during the day, 2. lasting for one day.
dominance hierarchies

ranking system or pecking order among members of a long-term social group, where dominance status affects access to resources or mates


animals that use metabolically generated heat to regulate body temperature independently of ambient temperature. Endothermy is a synapomorphy of the Mammalia, although it may have arisen in a (now extinct) synapsid ancestor; the fossil record does not distinguish these possibilities. Convergent in birds.


offspring are produced in more than one group (litters, clutches, etc.) and across multiple seasons (or other periods hospitable to reproduction). Iteroparous animals must, by definition, survive over multiple seasons (or periodic condition changes).


having the capacity to move from one place to another.

native range

the area in which the animal is naturally found, the region in which it is endemic.


an animal that mainly eats all kinds of things, including plants and animals


Referring to a mating system in which a female mates with several males during one breeding season (compare polygynous).


rainforests, both temperate and tropical, are dominated by trees often forming a closed canopy with little light reaching the ground. Epiphytes and climbing plants are also abundant. Precipitation is typically not limiting, but may be somewhat seasonal.


specialized for leaping or bounding locomotion; jumps or hops.


reproduction that includes combining the genetic contribution of two individuals, a male and a female


associates with others of its species; forms social groups.


uses touch to communicate


defends an area within the home range, occupied by a single animals or group of animals of the same species and held through overt defense, display, or advertisement


reproduction in which fertilization and development take place within the female body and the developing embryo derives nourishment from the female.


Nowak, R. 1999. Walker's Mammals of the World. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press.

Walters, J., K. Immelmann. 1990. Marmosets and Tamarins. Pp. 183-204 in S Parker, ed. Grzimek's Encyclopedia of Mammals. New York: McGraw-Hill Publishing Company.

Wilson, D., D. Reeder. 1993. Mammal Species of the World. Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institution Press.