Pygmy marmoset (Cebuella pygmaea)

Pygmy marmoset

On the primate island within the aquarium inside our Tropical House: Energy for Life.

Fast facts

Status Least Concern

Size Head - body length: 12-16 cm; tail length: 17-23 cm

Weight Males: 110 g Females: 122 g

Gestation 20 weeks

Young Usually twins

Life span 11-12 years

What do I eat?

Pygmy marmosets mainly eat invertebrates and plant exudates (sap, gum, latex). They sometimes also eat small vertebrates such as lizards and birds. Pygmy marmosets have special dental adaptations so they can gnaw holes in the bark of certain trees and vines to stimulate gum production.

Where do I live?

These animals are found in Peru, Bolivia, Brazil, Ecuador and Colombia. They are mostly found in river-edge forest. Pygmy marmosets generally travel in the dense vegetation of the lower layers of the forest. They forage for insects and feed in the middle layer of the forest.


Pygmy marmosets generally give birth to twins. There will be one breeding female in a group who usually gives birth twice a year. This female is dominant over all group members. Newborn pygmy marmosets weigh 13-15 g and their head to body length is 51-63mm. Pygmy marmosets are ‘cooperative breeders’ ,meaning that most group members help care for the infants, which are carried for the first 1½ to 2 months of their life. As they get older they may be left on their own for increasing periods of time as the group forages. Group members will offer food to infants while they are learning to catch their own prey. Pygmy marmosets are able to breed from about 1 ½ years of age.


It is thought that capuchin and squirrel monkeys prey on pygmy marmosets, because the marmosets give alarm calls and flee if they see them approaching. Other potential predators include hawks and falcons, forest cats and snakes.


Pygmy marmosets are common and have a fairly wide distribution range. They don’t currently face any major threats, although in some parts of their range there is localized habitat loss which may be causing some declines. 

Did you know?

The pygmy marmoset is the world’s smallest monkey.

Pygmy marmosets have sharp, claw-shaped nails on all their digits except for their big toe.

Pygmy marmosets are sometimes referred to as ‘gummivores’ because gums form an important part of their diet.

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Fantastic day out

We had a fantastic time at the zoo yesterday. It was the first time we had been into the tropical house, and we were so surprised to see so many animals, birds, butterflies and beautiful plants there. We packed so much in, and saw so many animals, including great views of… Read full reviewTeresa, 19th August 2018