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Golden Lion Tamarins

Here are some facts about Golden Lion Tamarins.
Sonia Nair
Golden lion tamarin is a New World Monkey that belongs to the coastal forests of Brazil. These animals are so named, after their reddish orange fur that covers their body.
One of the interesting features of this monkey is the thick and long hair on top of its head that resembles the mane of a lion. This is another reason why the animal is named as golden lion tamarin.
However, the sad fact is that they are classified as endangered animals, as very few members of this species are now alive. This includes around 100 of them in the wild and 500 in captivity. Apart from habitat loss, hunting is cited to be a reason for their reducing population.

Facts about Golden Lion Tamarin Monkeys

Golden lion tamarins are one among the four lion tamarin species that belong to the Atlantic forest regions in Brazil. The other three species of lion tamarins too are endangered. They include golden headed lion tamarins, black lion tamarins and black-faced lion tamarins.
Golden lion tamarin monkeys belong to the genus Leontopithecus in the family Callitrichidae, which consists of around 35 species of small monkeys.
In fact, golden tamarin monkeys are the largest among the different species in the family Callitrichidae. One of the interesting facts about this monkey is that its whole body is covered with red fur. Even the ears, throat and cheeks have fur covering.
It is believed that the sparkling orangish-red coloration of the fur of these animals is a result of large amounts of carotenoids in their diet. It is also said that exposure to sunlight could be a possible reason for their red-colored fur.
  • Golden lion tamarins are small-sized monkeys with a body length of around 13 inches. The tail may have a length of 16 inches. These monkeys weigh around 700 grams. Their body size can be compared to that of a small cat.
  • They are found to have strong and slender limbs with sharp nails that are like claws. These claw-like nails help them in moving from one tree to another. However, their tails are not prehensile.
  • So, golden lion tamarins lead their lives in trees. They are active during the day and are often found in groups with two to nine members. These animals have nesting holes in the trees and they rest inside these holes, during the night. They are also found to use tangled vegetation as their resting spots.
  • Though, they belong to the Atlantic forests in the southeastern areas of Brazil, today, these monkeys are mostly confined to two to three areas. Among them, the most important one is the Po├žo das Antas Biological Reserve in Rio de Janeiro. Golden lion tamarin habitat is the dense forests with tall trees and tangled vegetation.
  • These animals are omnivorous and feed on fruits, nectar and gum from trees. Even insects (like crickets) and small vertebrates are consumed by these monkeys. However fruits remain the main source of food for them. They get water from the foods they eat and the rainwater collected in bromeliads.
  • As they are found in groups, golden lion tamarins stand united, when they fight their predators. Sometimes, they lay flat on tree trunks, in their attempts to rescue themselves from predators that include snakes, ocelots, bamboo rats, wild dogs and owls.
  • These lion tamarins are monogamous and each group consists of an adult male and female with young ones. These animals get sexually mature as they reach the age of 18 to 20 months.
  • The gestation period for these animals is 125 to 135 days. The young ones are taken care of by both parents. It is found that the young ones stay with their parents even after they are weaned. They help their parents in taking care of the smallest members of the family.
  • Individual groups mark their territory with a scent produced from their anal glands. Golden lion tamarins are found to communicate with each other using different types of calls and whines.
  • Even though, their life span is of around eight years, very few members are found to survive their first year in the wild. In captivity, these animals may live longer.
This was a brief compilation of some interesting facts about golden lion tamarins. Measures are being taken to save these monkeys from extinction. Let's hope for the best.