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Marmosets

( Originally Published 1936 )

The Marmosets agree with man, with the Old World apes and the monkeys in the number of teeth, but have true claws, not nails, on their feet, and their tails are rather large and bushy, but not prehensile. Indeed, they are rather catlike in their general appearance, just as baboons have a superficial resemblance to dogs. They feed on fruits and insects, and live in trees. They are timid, but easily tamed, and are often made pets of in their native country. Marmosets are the smallest of the quadrumana, not much exceeding six inches in length without the bushy tail, which is considerably longer than the body. They inhabit various parts of Central and South America.

Marmoset (Hapale Jacchus)

This species, which is common in many parts of South America, is rather variable in colour, but the typical form is slaty grey. There are broad, black bands on the tail, and less distinct ones on the back. In front of the ears are large tufts of white hairs, and the face is more or less varied with black. See Plate Some years ago a lady living in New Haven possessed a pair of these monkeys, and the female gave birth to two young—tiny creatures not more than two inches in length, exclusive of the tail. They uttered curious little cries, very like the call of young robins in a nest. In the same cage with the mother lived a female Marmoset of another species, who took a violent fancy to the little ones, and when allowed the use of the room in which they lived would run happily about with the foster babies clinging to her. These monkeys were carried around by their owner in a small basket and often taken on her daily excursions about the town. On one occasion, while visiting a circus, one of the Marmosets escaped from its basket and ran to the top of the circus-tent pole, refusing to be coaxed down. Several men had finally to remove the pole, but before it touched the ground the monkey leaped a considerable distance to the earth, and took refuge under a leopard's cage. It was at length recovered with much difficulty.

In captivity Marmosets exhibit none of the disagreeable habits of the larger monkeys, being some-what bird-like in character, uttering peculiar cries and poking about with their sharp little fingers in search of small objects that might be eatable. Al-though the creature is so diminutive, it can inflict a rather severe bite, the teeth being enormously large in proportion to the size of the head. They do comparatively well in confinement, some specimens having been kept in good health for seven or eight years. The pair mentioned were very fond of bananas and of boiled tapioca. They were never fed upon bread, a usual diet for monkeys in captivity, but one that is highly unnatural, inducing disorders of digestion, which are often fatal. Starchy food when given in a form that is not chewed thoroughly is indigestible. In a natural state, animals get starchy food either in very small quantities, or in such form that it has to be thoroughly masticated before it can be swallowed.

Lion Tamarin (Midas leoninus)

The Tamarins are about the same size as Marmosets, measuring about seven or eight inches to a foot in length. They are found in many parts of South America, but seem to be most abundant in the forest regions along the Amazon, living in the high trees and feeding on fruit and insects. In general habits they resemble the marmosets, with whom they are closely allied. The face is naked, and the fur on the body varies in colour, being usually mottled with grey or brown. Several species, including the one represented, are distinguished by a large mane which falls back from the forehead and about the neck, giving the little creature the curious lion-like appearance to which it owes its name. See Plate 3, Fig. 13.



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