Common marmoset

Callithrix jacchus

Fact titleFact data
Super powers
Agility and adaptability
Agile, teamworker, vocal, sensitive sense of smell, omnivore.
Favourite food
Tree sap

In this story, a young marmoset and his family scrape a living on the dusty backstreets of Rio de Janeiro. As a youngster in the group, he is still learning the importance and rules of marmoset family life and how to survive outside his natural forest home. All being well, he will stay with his troop and assist with family duties until he’s mature enough to leave and find a group of his own.

Short-distance ultrasonic calls are used to prevent eavesdropping by prey or predators
Hidden Kingdoms

Standing at only 7 inches tall, the key to the survival of these miniature monkeys is working cohesively as a team to find food, look out for predators and keep one another warm.

When a female of the troop has young there are often two mouths to feed as they frequently give birth to non-identical twins. Remarkably the infants weigh around 20 to 27% of the mother’s total weight and are energetically very demanding. So it is all hands on deck for other members of the troop to help care for the young.

Highly adaptable, they have a variety of survival skills learned in their traditional forested habitat, which make them successful city residents too: an omnivorous diet means they are not fussy-eaters; they can switch sleeping sites; sharp claws help them cling vertically to trees and telegraph poles; they easily get used to the presence of people; they have a high reproductive rate; and a capacity to learn quickly.

With a specialised scent organ (also known as a ‘second nose’) common marmosets have a well-developed sense of smell and are said to be able to determine the ripeness of fruits by smell alone.

They also have excellent communication skills and keep track of one another by calling. Short-distance ultrasonic calls are used to prevent eavesdropping by prey or predators, whereas higher amplitude calls are produced in response to increased levels of white noise. In the city, noise levels are often well above those found in the wild and interfere with their ability to communicate. Marmosets will increase their range of sounds by 10-fold in noisy environments but when they simply cannot compete they find a quiet spot and rest.

In a city fraught with danger, the young marmoset becomes separated from his family - lost and alone, he must find his way to his family and dodge the perils that lurk around every corner.