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Tamarin empereur © MNHN - F-G Grandin

Emperor tamarin

A small South American primate, the emperor tamarin, Saguinus imperator, is thus named because of its long moustache which resembles that of German Emperor Wilhelm II!

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Class, order & family :

Mammalia, Primates, Callitrichidae

Genus :


Species :


Lifespan :

10 to 15 years

Height and weight :

25 cm long + 40-cm tail; 500 g at the most

Gestation :

4.5 months, 2 babies

Natural habitat :

tropical forest canopies

Diet :

fruit, nectar, resin, insects, small frogs

Native region :

Peru, Brazil, Bolivia

Conservation programme :


Statut UICN: 

LC, Least concerned

Mode de vie

Emperor tamarins live in mixed groups of 3 to 10 individuals. Within the group, only one female, the alpha, will reproduce, even secreting pheromones that suppress ovulation in other females. She can mate with several males who then take complete care of the young. The young are attached to their parents’ backs for 7 months before they are able to get by on their own.

The emperor tamarin, who is skilled in spotting flying predators (birds of prey), will willingly work together with brown-mantled tamarins, who are better able to see approaching dangers on the ground (such as snakes and cats). Moreover, their vocalisations and warning calls are mutually intelligible! Tamarins travel one to two kilometres per day to search for food. They also help to disperse seeds across the forest.

Signes distinctifs

The emperor tamarin can be easily identified by its long white moustache. Its coat is greyish-black while its tail is red. As with all of the other tamarins, its tail is used for balance as it moves through the trees.

Aside from its big toe which has a flat nail, all of its digits end in claws, which help them climb trunks or dig into bark.


This species was jokingly named “emperor” in reference to the moustache of the German emperor, Wilhelm II.

Deforestation is the greatest threat to their populations.

Tamarin empereur © MNHN - F-G Grandin
Tamarin empereur © MNHN - F-G Grandin
Tamarin empereur © MNHN - F-G Grandin
Tamarin empereur © MNHN - F-G Grandin
Tamarin empereur © MNHN - F-G Grandin