5 Types of Small Monkeys

Monkeys share many characteristics with humans which makes them endearing to many people. And many others either have different types of small monkeys as exotic pets or seek to have them, mostly because they are cute. Besides, owning an unpopular monkey feels like gold.

All 5 types of small monkeys that we reviewed for you can be found in South America.  Here is the list of the world’s beloved small monkeys:

1. Pygmy Marmoset

The top on the list of the types of small monkeys is the Pygmy marmoset. They are the smallest monkeys in the world. They are so small that an adult member of this species fits in the palm of an adult human’s hand. The word ‘marmoset’ was acquired from the French word ‘marmoset’ -which means ‘dwarf’. They are also known as referred to as pocket monkeys or finger monkeys.

source: Earth.com

They are a new world monkey – the term “new world monkey” refers to monkeys found in South and Central America. They are indigenous to South America where it lives in the rainforest canopy.

They have stunning white ear tufts and a banded tail, the common marmoset has dense, vibrant hair. They have claw-like nails on their fingers, like tamarins, and a true nail on their thumb. Their tail is longer than their body.

  • Nutrition – Pygmy marmosets’ major source of nutrition is gum or tree sap.  Their incisors are specially designed to puncture trees and trigger sap flow, and their dentition is specialized for eating on the gum. Now, you see more reasons why trees are important and how the depletion of natural resources affects life. They feed our furry friends.

These monkeys’ powerful lower canines can cut through tree bark. They also eat a broad variety of foods, including nectar, fruit, leaves, and insects.

  • They are Arboreal – They are acrobatic where they reside in the woods of southeastern Brazil. Pygmy marmosets may leap up to five meters (16 feet) across branches while moving around on all fours.

    Their tail serves as a support and helps the animal balance when moving through the trees.
  • They are Territorial. They do not migrate seasonally. They scent-mark their territory to defend it from intruders.
  • Group Size – One or two adult males and one or two adult females, including a single breeding female and her young, make up a group of pygmy marmosets, which can have anywhere from two to nine individuals.
  • Communication – These animals often communicate through vocalizations to show danger, attract mating, or train youngsters.

    Thus, brief calls are used to interact with individuals nearby, while longer ones are used to remain in touch with tribe members who are far away.
  • Reproduction – These animals do not have a mating season and instead reproduce all year. A troop’s dominant female gives birth every 5 to 6 months. They mate around 3 weeks after giving birth.

    The gestation phase lasts 4.5 months and yields 1-3 babies on average. The reproductive maturity age is about 1-1.5 years.
  • Growth – The newborns are mostly cared for by their father, who carries them on his back, while the mother is only responsible for washing and feeding during the 3-month breastfeeding phase.
    The group members exhibit a cooperative infant care system.
  • As a Pet – If you are looking for a gypsy monkey to purchase as a pet, they are in short supply on the market for buying.
    When it comes to possessing one of these beasts in the United States, each state has its own set of rules. And sometimes, each county. So make sure that you find the correct information about your area.

When you own one as a pet, it is crucial to create an environment that resembles its own natural habitat. You can feed them fruits, insects, and smaller reptiles.
A young pygmy marmoset should be fed every two hours for at least two weeks. It’s crucial to understand their natural diet since it provides them with the essential protein, calcium, and other nutrients they require to thrive.
This helps them keep their overall health.

Behavior – They generally cuddle close when resting at night. Their sleeping areas are hidden behind dense vine growth at heights ranging from 7 to 10 meters.
Reciprocal combing is a crucial element of their existence since it improves bonding among group members.

Currently, this specie is threatened in some locales by factors such as the pet trade as types of small monkeys are.

2. Common Marmoset

source: world land trust

This species, one of the types of small monkeys is a new world monkey too. The Common Marmoset originated from East Central Brazil.

It has a white blaze on the forehead and white ear tufts. That’s why it is also called the White-tufted-ear Marmoset or Cotton-eared Marmoset. And has along with it, thick, colored fur.

They have nails that resemble claws on their fingers, similar to tamarins, and a true nail on their thumb. They have claw-like nails on their toes and flat nails (ungulae) on only their large toes. They also have big, chisel-shaped incisors.

  • Aerobeal – They are very acrobatic on the trees. They can sprint through branches on four legs while hanging onto trees straight and jumping between them. They have claw-like nails called tegulae, just like the other members of the genus Callithrix. Tegulae are suited for this kind of movement.
  • Nutrition – Just like the pygmy marmoset, this little monkey differs from others in that it eats plant secretions as well as insects, fruit, mushrooms, flowers, seeds, and smaller animals. It gets at the gums by chewing a hole in the tree and then lapping the secretions up.
  • Reproduction – If the circumstances are favorable, a common marmoset’s dominant female can reproduce rather frequently. Females are ready to reproduce again roughly 10 days after giving birth following a 5-month gestation period. This means that they may give birth twice a year, mostly to nonidentical twins. Thus, extra family members are required to assist raise the young.
  • Growth – The breeding male (most likely the father) begins to handle the twins, and the entire family takes care of them. In the following weeks, the children spend less time on their mother’s back and more time wandering about and playing. At three months, infants are weaned. At 5 months, they engage more with family members other than their parents.

Marmosets achieve adult size and sexual maturity at 15 months but cannot reproduce until they are dominant.

  • Communication – Marmosets employ the gaping mouth stare and scowl to communicate. Marmosets flatten their ear tufts close to their skulls to show fear or subordination.
  • Group Size – Typically, a marmoset family consists of one or two breeding females, a breeding male, their young, and any adult relatives who are their parents, or siblings and offspring. It is usually a group of 3 to 15 monkeys.
  • Size and Weight – Males of this diminutive monkey typically measure 7.40 inches in length, while females are somewhat shorter at 7.28 inches. Additionally, males weigh about 9.03 ounces, whilst females average 8.32 ounces.
  • As a Pet – Being so high maintenance, caring for common marmosets can be challenging. They are loving and playful while young, but, like other monkeys, they may develop into violent adults. They need a rigorous diet rich in certain nutrients and access to UV rays every day to maintain their health.
  • Behavior – Only a select handful of the common marmosets’ extended families are permitted to reproduce in a group. Marmosets leave their natal groups as adults and not as adolescents.

When a breeding male dies, family groupings merge into new groups. Breeding individuals are more dominant within family groupings. The dominance of the breeding male and female is shared. Age determines the social position of the members of the group.

3. Golden Lion Tamarin

source: rainforest alliance

They are the Callitrichidae specie monkeys from the New World

With its characteristic golden mane and tiny stature, the golden lion tamarin is named after its beautiful golden mane and red-orange fur. Males and females have the same appearance.

Despite being very small, the golden lion tamarin is still the largest of the Callitrichidae family

Golden lion tamarins are endemic to Brazil’s coast and can only be found in the jungles of southern Rio de Janeiro.

  • Nutrition – Golden lion tamarins consume a variety of flowers, fruits, nectar, and tiny animals such as bugs, spiders, and lizards. To access food, golden lion tamarins use their long, thin claws to dig into cracks.
  • Aerobeal – Rarely do I descend to the forest floor. They sleep in tree holes to save body heat and protect themselves against night attackers.
  • Territorial – Tamarins scent-mark their territory by rubbing their torsos and backsides repeatedly on surfaces in their region.

    This marking is caused by glands that emit an oily, dank-smelling material. They also use vocalizations to defend their particular territories.
  • Group size – In the wild, this species normally lives in family groups of two to eight individuals; normally an adult breeding pair and one or more sets of their offspring in the group. Copulated pairs are monogamous.
  • Communication – Tamarins make warning sounds in reaction to potentially dangerous. They have cries that distinguish flying predators from land predatory animals.
  • Growth – The entire group works together to nurture the children. Mothers will carry their young for the first two weeks, after which the father will carry them.
  • Reproduction – These tamarins usually give birth to twins but the average newborn mortality rate is around 42%. Gestation lasts around 126-130 days.
    The young are weaned between 4 months of age and reach sexual maturity between 18 months.
  • Behavior – They are most active during the daytime. At night, golden lion tamarins sleep in the holes of trees. As well as being lovely and warm, this spot allows them to hide from predators at night.

    Similar to the Common Marmoset, the male, and female in the family group have roughly equal dominance.

They have been known to survive much longer in human care. They have been reported to live for more than 20 years in zoological environments. The oldest ever golden lion tamarin was 31 years at San Antonio Zoo in Texas, United States.

Golden lion tamarins are impacted by many factors – habitat degradation, predators, and illegal trades. They are preyed upon by bigger predators otherwise golden lion tamarins live for 10 to 15 years.

Their predators are bigger mammals and big snakes. The export of Golden lion tamarins is illegal. However, it is still ongoing.

4. Roosmalen’s Dwarf Marmoset

 It is the second smallest species of monkey. The Roosmalens dwarf marmoset is also known as the black-crown dwarf marmoset native to the Amazon forest in Brazil.

The crown is usually black, earning the name black-crowned dwarf marmoset.

The upper parts of Roosmalens’ dwarf marmoset are mostly dark olive-brown, with light, dull yellowish undersides. A white wreath of hair surrounds the flesh-colored face. It has claws rather than nails.

  • Size – Adults are about 15 inches long in adulthood including a 9 inches tail, and they weigh about 6 oz.
  • Nutrition – Like other marmosets, Roosmalens’ dwarf marmoset feeds on tree sap.
  • Reproduction – This is something remarkable about the Roosmalens’ dwarf marmoset; it gives birth to a single infant rather than twins, unlike the marmoset among the types of small monkeys.
  • Behavior – Marmosets are particularly territorial, however, this is not the case with the Roosmalens’ dwarf marmoset, where numerous females in a group have young rather than one dominating female.

5. Silvery Marmoset

Silver Marmosets are a spectacular breed among the types of small monkeys because they have some differences from other marmosets.

The third smallest monkey among the types of small monkeys. They dwell in Brazil’s eastern Amazon Rainforest.

The Silvery Marmoset has an extremely dark tail, which has earned it the nickname “Black-tailed Monkey.” Except for a black tail, the silvery marmoset’s fur is silver-white, and fewer are dark brown.
It has striking bare flesh-colored ears.

Silvery marmosets have sharp claws instead of nails though they have nails on their thumbs, helping them climb. Silvery marmosets have specialized dentition for burrowing into tree bark. Their lower incisors are sharp and chisel-like, allowing them access to tree excretions.

  • Size – Silvery marmosets are squirrel-sized. Adults are 7.1 to 11.0 inches long. The average body length is about 20 inches and adults weigh from 11 to 14 oz.
  • Nutrition – The diet of the silvery marmosets is mainly tree sap. They also eat bird eggs, fruit, and bugs.
  • Diurnal – Like humans, they are active during the day and sleep at night.
  • Arboreal – They are originally rainforest dwellers, but developments have caused them to spread. They spend the night in tree hollows huddled together away from predators.
    Silvery marmosets can spend their entire lives in trees without descending to the ground.
  • Group size – They live in tiny groups of 4-12, with one being the dominant female and sole breeder.
  • Territorial – They are territorial and use smell glands to mark their territory. They chase off intruders with shouts and scowls.
  • Reproduction – To The offspring are weaned by six months, with full maturity occurring around two years of age. Then they can reproduce.
  • Behavior – Like other marmosets, the entire family assists in the rearing of the infants.

The stated lifetime is around 16 years.


The sizes of types of small monkeys are thrilling. And their behavior is spectacular. The fact that an adult pygmy marmoset – the smallest of the types of small monkeys can fit into the palm of a human adult’s hand makes it just remarkable.

Types of Small Monkeys – FAQS

What small monkey makes a good pet?

Capuchin monkey, Pygmy marmoset, and Squirrel monkey. Capuchin monkeys are one of the most common to keep as pets. They are intelligent and mischievous but can’t be potty trained. Pygmy marmosets are the smallest monkey in the world, they are kept as companions and need constant attention. Squirrel monkeys are considered to be very smart, very social, and need attention a lot.

How do I get a small monkey?

First, check out your state laws and your city or even county laws because they vary oftentimes. Then, you should check out your local shelter. Many people buy from black marketers but that’s illegal.


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