The Bearded Emperor Tamarind monkey is a subspecies of the Emperor tamarin. It is notable for its funny looking, drooping white moustache. Females and youth also have the moustache. The rest of the bearded tamarin's fur is gray, often dotted with yellow or brown spots. It is omnivorous, with its diet consists of plants and animals alike. At full physical maturity, these monkeys will grow to up to 10 inches and weigh one pound, with a long 15-inch tail. The bearded tamarin has claws on its fingers and toes except the big toe, which instead has a nail. It sprints on all fours.
The diet of the bearded tamarin is comprised in large part by carbohydrate-rich plants, with supplementary small animals and insects in smaller proportions. Of the plants they feed on, fruit, nectar, and tree sap are their favorites. They eat insects such as locusts, beetles, snails, crickets, butterflies, spiders and ants. They also may plunder a bird’s nest for eggs, or catch and eat small reptiles, like lizards and tree frogs. In dry seasons they eat more nectar than during wet seasons. According to the Durrell Wildlife Conservation Study, 95 percent of the bearded tamarin diet is comprised by fruit during the wet seasons.
Habitat and Range
The bearded tamarin is native to Central and South America within tropical rain forests, particularly in such regions as the southwest Amazon Basin in Brazil, eastern Peru, and northern Bolivia. They live in open, tree-covered habitats. According to a Macalester College study, they live in trees below 80 to 95 feet in height, which are common in the Amazonian jungle. The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), in its 2015 Redlist, reported that the emperor tamarin species is not under significant risk of going extinct. However, the IUCN notes that rapid deforestation, due in large part to logging and infrastructure construction, may threaten the species in the near future, and they are in threat of being captured for the illegal pet trade.
The bearded tamarin is most active during the day, and it is an animal constantly in motion. Their small sizes make them agile creatures, and enables them to leap from branch to branch. The Bearded tamarin is social, and lives in groups of two to fifteen monkeys. Each group is led by the eldest female, followed by mature males. They are playful and, when relaxing, they will groom one another’s fur. When there is a danger, the bearded tamarin lets out shrieks and shrills to warn others in the group. It is a highly territorial monkey, and will zealously defend its territory against other tamarins or other smaller monkeys.
Sexually maturity for the bearded tamarin will be reached at 16 to 20 months, at which time they will begin breeding. When a female is ready to mate, she emits pheromone chemicals, which alert the males of her presence and sexual readiness. The chemicals also inhibit ovulation in other females in the group. Within a given group, it is the two oldest males and the oldest female who are the ones to actually breed and reproduce. Their gestation periods last between 140 and 145 days. In one birth, a female bearded tamarin will typically give birth to two to three young ones. The role of caring for them is taken on by every bearded tamarin in the group. This "it takes a village" approach encompasses all aspects of rearing the young bearded tamarins, ranging from sharing food to playing and grooming.