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What Is a Silvery Marmoset?

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  • Written By: C.B. Fox
  • Edited By: Susan Barwick
  • Last Modified Date: 30 November 2016
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The silvery marmoset, Callithrix argentata, is a species of monkey native to South America. These primates live in rainforest trees in small family groups. They are intelligent and adaptable, though deforestation is believed to threaten their future. Silvery marmosets are diurnal. They can be observed by humans as they jump between trees, feed and interact with one another.

A small monkey, the silvery marmoset only grows to be about 3 pounds (1,360 g) and 8.7 inches (22 cm) long, excluding its tail. They live to be 17 years old in captivity, though probably considerably less in the wild. The fur of the silvery marmoset ranges from dark brown to silver, as the young are born dark and gradually lose pigment in their fur as they age. The tail of the silvery marmoset remains dark for the duration of the animal's life.

Like other species of marmoset, the silvery marmoset usually gives birth to twins. The babies are born after a 145-day gestation period and the female goes into heat again only a week or so after giving birth. This allows female silvery marmosets to give birth to an average of four young each year. Only dominant females in the troop breed because the pheromones they secrete prevent other females who are lower on the social scale from becoming receptive. All the members of the troop, which usually contains between 10 and 20 members, are responsible for the care of the infants.

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A gumovore, the silvery marmoset feeds on tree sap. These monkeys have small, sharp teeth which they use to pierce the bark of trees, causing sap to come out which they then lap up. Though their primary diet is sap, silvery marmosets are opportunistic and will eat any insects, fruits, eggs and small vertebrates that they come across.

The severity of the threat to wild populations of silvery marmoset is not known. Despite their adaptability, they are believed to be severely endangered due to deforestation of their habitat. Silvery marmosets have been known to eat crops and young trees planted in areas that have been deforested, which has led people who live nearby to view them as pests. This, unfortunately, has led to the targeted destruction of the silvery marmoset.

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