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Pygmy Marmoset Diet

Sonia Nair
Pygmy marmosets are the smallest monkeys in the world with interesting features and adaptations. Read on to know more about the diet of these animals.
Pygmy marmosets are actually monkeys that are natives to the rainforests of South America. They are so named after their small size, which is around 5 to 6.5 inches in length, excluding the ringed tail that may be around 6 to 8 inches long.
These cute, little animals weigh around 100 to 150 grams. So, now you can imagine the size of pygmy marmosets, which are sometimes described as squirrel-like in looks. However, these mammals are not closely related to squirrels though their style of movements may resemble the latter.
These monkeys have tawny coat with small black markings. They have large almond-shaped eyes and a vertical white marking on their nose. Such white marks are found on either sides of the mouth too. Pygmy marmosets have various adaptations that help them in their arboreal life. Even their diet is found to be linked to trees.

What Does a Pygmy Marmoset Eat

Now, you know that these animals spend most of their time on trees. Besides their small size that helps them to move swiftly, these animals have claw-like nails that can support them in clinging to branches. These claws are so strong that these animals are sometimes seen using them for supporting their body weight.
The long tail of this animal is not prehensile and is not so useful in locomotion. Another adaptation of this animal is the long incisors of this animal. These teeth are not used for locomotion, but for collecting food.
  • As mentioned above, these animals have long and strong incisors, which they use to gnaw into tree trunks so that they can feed on the oozing sap of the trees. These animals have an enlarged cecum that helps them to digest these exudate.
  • In short, the main ingredients of pygmy marmoset diet are the exudate from trees and vines. This may include gums, latex and resin. It has been observed that these animals make holes of around 10 to 20 millimeters width and a depth of 0.2 to 0.8 inch.
  • From the nature of the holes on the tree trunks, it can be inferred that these animals start from the base of the trunk and work upwards. The holes near the base are found to be older and the top ones are fresh.
  • Apart from tree exudate, these monkeys feed on insects and their favorite one is the grasshopper. They also feed on moths, spiders, butterflies, lizards, snails, frogs, beetles and ants. These animals are also found to feed on fruits, flowers, nectar and buds, in small amounts.
  • So a major part of their diet is tree exudate. This may amount to 60 to 80%. Around 10 to 15% consists of insects and the remaining include fruits, flowers and nectar. They need fresh water regularly and this is mainly derived from the flowers and leaves.
  • Those in captivity are fed with vegetables like cauliflower and peas, baby cereals, canned food, meat, fish, insects, rice, yogurt and boiled eggs.
The above said was only a brief overview about pygmy marmoset diet. It is said that such a diet is aimed at deriving vitamin A and D3, which are vital for these animals to survive.
It may not be possible to provide them with this type of diet in captivity and so, it is not advisable to raise them as pets, unless you have a sound knowledge about pygmy marmoset care (in some regions, these animals can be raised as pets, if you obtain special permission for the same).
Taking care of a pygmy marmoset can be a difficult task. Besides that, they are active animals that are found to live in groups in their wild habitat. Solitary life inside a cage may not be enjoyed by the animal. So, it may not be wise to choose one as a pet. If you are interested in knowing more about this animal, you may conduct a deep study about them.