Pygmy marmosets are brilliant animals, and their first couple of years leave a significant imprint. As social animals, they thrive in small groups and are happiest when they’re with their kind. They should not be kept alone as this leads to boredom, inactivity, and stereotyped behaviors.
Known for their playful nature, marmoset monkeys are also famous for neuroscientists. Their small size and sophisticated social behavior make them ideal for research into neurological disorders like autism and Parkinson’s disease. The monkeys’ ability to communicate using high-pitched chirps and facial expressions makes them easier to train than more giant primates. They’re also easy to breed in captivity. Female marmosets produce twins more frequently than other New World monkeys. The mother and other group members care for the babies intensively, which is called cooperative rearing. Researchers have discovered that marmosets’ less-furrowed brains make it easier to study their neural circuitry, and they have an innate interest in working for their food. If a pet marmoset isn’t stimulated enough with food-based enrichment, it can become bored and exhibit stereotyped behavior such as pacing or running around in circles.
These monkeys love playing with each other, but they also like to gnaw on tree bark to stimulate the flow of plant juices and exudates. They also eat fruit, seeds, flowers, fungi, and animal food such as snails, grasshoppers, lizards, and frogs. Marmosets are good at communicating with each other and can quickly form bonds with humans. They use vocalizations called phone calls to communicate over short distances. They can also communicate with each other using facial expressions, such as a partially open mouth that signals alarm or a frown that indicates aggression or submission. Marmosets spend most of their waking hours in the trees, so they are not ideal pets for people who cannot give them the attention they need. This is why these animals are better off in the wild, where they can swing from vines and play with other monkeys. In captivity, these monkeys are often ignored and prone to biting and throwing tantrums in response. They are also noisy, and their high-pitched screams will quickly get annoying.
They’re Easy to Care For
They are cooperative breeders, which means both parents care for infants, and other group members help rear them (cooperative rearing). They can also be trained to complete all sorts of cognitive tests.
In the wild, marmosets live in groups of up to 15 close relatives. Males emigrate from the family group to find breeding females as they reach adolescence, but the remaining family members usually remain together throughout their lives. The monkeys eat various foods, but fungus and tree gum comprise a large portion of their diet. They have a unique adaptation for eating this food source: By clinging to the side of a tree with their claw-like nails, they can gnaw holes with their incisor teeth, stimulating the flow of gum and other edible plant exudates. Other group members may lick the food from the holes or scoop it with tongues. The marmosets’ mouths are covered with exceptional taste buds that can detect these dissolved chemicals. They can even sense the chemical composition of a plant and tell when it is sweet or bitter.
They’re Easy to Train
These little monkeys can cooperate with husbandry procedures using positive reinforcement training. They can also learn tricks and even be taught to play fetch. Marmosets are omnivorous and live in extended family groups called troops of 3-15 monkeys (on average, nine members). This group usually includes three generations: the breeding pair, their babies, and other adult offspring. The troops also include a range of nonbreeding males and females and other related individuals. Like other primates, pygmy marmosets communicate with each other using a repertoire of vocalizations. These include chattering and trilling in high-pitched voices, squeaks, and calls to warn of danger or other urgent messages. They also use visual signals, such as facial expressions, to convey their mood or contentment, aggression, or submission. They appreciate cage furniture that allows them to exercise, climb and explore. For example, wooden dowelling and branches of trees are ideal for environmental enrichment and can be hung from the cage ceiling. They will also enjoy flat perches, feeding sites, and a trapeze to help them practice their natural locomotor behavior.
They’re Easy to Maintain
Marmosets are highly social animals that need to live in groups, and they can be very destructive when not given the attention they require. They communicate using vocal signals, visual cues, and olfactory information to convey their emotions and intent. They use a repertoire of vocalizations, including “phone calls,” which are loud, high-pitched whistles. These are a response to unexpected movements or threatening situations. Marmosets are also very deliberate in their selection of sleeping locations. They choose secure locations and offer cover from predators such as cats, hawks, and snakes. Marmosets are highly adaptable and can live in various habitats, including dry secondary forests, riverine forests, savanna forests inland, and urban areas.