Golden-handed tamarin

Common Name: Golden-handed tamarin

Scientific Name: Saguinus midas

Golden-handed tamarins also known as Midas tamarins get their name from their brightly coloured hands and feet which look as though they have been dipped in golden-yellow paint and are therefore a striking contrast to their otherwise dark fur.

Marmosets and tamarins are distinguished from the other monkeys of the New World by their small size, modified claws, the presence of two as opposed to three molar teeth in either side of each jaw, and by the occurrence of twin births.

Golden-handed tamarins have claws on all digits except for the big toe which has a flattened almost human nail. Their tails are non-prehensile, so they jump rather than swing between trees.

Fast Facts

  • Status

    Least concern

  • Size

    Head – Body: Males: 24.6 cm Females: 25.2 cm; Tail length: 38.5 cm

  • Weight

    515 – 575 g

  • Gestation

    150 days

  • Young


  • Life span

    12 - 18 years

In the wild

Golden handed tamarins are omnivorous moving up to 2km a day foraging between 10 – 20 metres above the ground in the canopy and understory of the rainforest. Their diet is balanced between insects and invertebrates and small to medium sized fruits. In the dry season, when fruit it scarce they supplement their diet with small vertebrates like frogs and lizards, as well as eating nectar and gum.

These small monkeys are endemic to Guyana, Suriname, French Guiana and seen in Brazil, North of Rio Amazonas and east of Rio Negro.

Their preferred habitats are lowland and hilly Guiana Shield rainforest and white sand forest, however, they are found in secondary habitats close to villages.

Despite living in extended family groups, only one female will breed producing twins during the early part of the wet season (October – December). Although the mother will carry her infants initially, both the father and other group members will assist in the nurture and upbringing of youngsters. From three months, youngsters spend less and less time being carried, reaching full independence at five months.

Golden-handed tamarins are prey species for small cats, snakes, and birds of prey. They are rarely hunted by people and appear to be the least preferred food species, although their tails are used for decoration. As people are not perceived as a direct threat golden-handed tamarins are one of the few species usually found in the immediate vicinity of villages.

Compared to other similar species the golden-handed tamarin is very resilient. They are expanding and growing across other areas often to the detriment of other species like the critically endangered pied tamarin whose numbers are in decline.

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