Silvery-brown bare-face tamarin (Saguinus leucopus)

Adult silvery-brown bare-face tamarin
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Silvery-brown bare-face tamarin fact file

Silvery-brown bare-face tamarin description

GenusSaguinus (1)

The silvery brown bare-face tamarin, named for the sparse hair on its face, has a soft, dense, brown pelage (5), and a patch of white fur on all four feet, hence its alternative common name of white-footed tamarin (6). Like all tamarins, this species has forelimbs shorter than its hind limbs, long hands and feet, and modified claws on each digit except for the big toe (5). The silvery brown bare-face tamarin has acute sight, good hearing and smell (5), and scent glands on its body which are used to mark its territory (6)

Also known as
silvery-brown tamarin, white-footed tamarin.
Tamarin À Pieds Blancs.
Tamarín De Manos Blancas, Tití Gris.
Head-body length: 23 – 25 cm (2)
Tail length: 38 cm (2)
Male weight: 494 g (3)
Female weight: 490 g (3)

Silvery-brown bare-face tamarin biology

The silvery brown bare-face tamarin, like other tamarins, lives in extended family groups comprised of between 4 and 15 individuals (1). Active during the day, the silvery brown bare-face tamarin can be found in trees and shrubs searching for food such as insects, soft fruits, nectar and plant exudates. Superbly adapted to its arboreal lifestyle, this species moves with agility, running with quadrupedal leaps through the tree canopy, and uses tree holes and cavities to shelter during the night (5).

Silvery brown bare-face tamarin females mate with more than one male during the breeding seasons, a system which is known as polyandry (9). Females will give birth to one to three young after a gestation period of between 130 and 150 days. The males assist in rearing the offspring and carry all the young on their backs. Sexual maturity is reached at 12 to 18 months (5).


Silvery-brown bare-face tamarin range

The silvery brown bare-face tamarin is found in Colombia, between the eastern banks of the lower Río Cauca and the western part of the middle Río Magdalena in the north of the country (7).


Silvery-brown bare-face tamarin habitat

This species inhabits both tropical dry and tropical humid forests (2).  It is usually found at the edges of forests, close to streams, and is present in both primary and secondary forest, as well as forest in some urban areas (7) (8).


Silvery-brown bare-face tamarin status

Classified as Endangered (EN) on the IUCN Red List (1) and listed on Appendix I of CITES (4).

IUCN Red List species status – Endangered


Silvery-brown bare-face tamarin threats

The Colombian forests in which the silvery brown bare-face tamarin lives are being rapidly degraded and fragmented, due to logging, the expansion of agriculture, cattle ranching, mining, and the development of roads. Individuals are also taken from the wild to be sold at markets as pets (2). The combination of these threats has reduced the population of silvery brown bare-face tamarins by over 50 percent in the last 18 years, leaving the species in a precarious position where any further reduction could have a cataclysmic effect (2).  


Silvery-brown bare-face tamarin conservation

Currently, there is only one reserve, the Canon del Rio Alicante, where the silvery brown bare-face tamarin can be found. However, this area is poorly protected and the land has been exploited for the benefit of local people. Therefore, a method of protecting this animal whilst allowing development in surrounding communities is needed. A campaign is currently underway for the creation of a protected area for the species in the north-east of the department of Antioquia, Colombia, which would also benefit the variegated spider monkey (10) (11).

A captive breeding programme for the silvery brown bare-face tamarin was initiated in 2006, but the programme has experienced problems with reproduction and survival of individuals in captivity. A conservation action plan has been created for this species which outlines actions such as the continuation of captive breeding, education programmes, population surveys and studies of habitat use. It is hoped that through such actions, the threats on this beautiful primate may be reduced (1)

View information on this species at the UNEP World Conservation Monitoring Centre.

Find out more

To find out about conservation efforts in Colombia visit:



This information is awaiting authentication by a species expert, and will be updated as soon as possible. If you are able to help please contact:

This species information was authored as part of the Arkive and Universities Scheme.


An animal which lives or spends a large amount of time in trees.
Substances that ooze out of plants, such as gum, sap, resin and latex.
The coat of a mammal, composed of fur, hair or wool, covering the bare skin.
Primary forest
Forest that has remained undisturbed for a long time and has reached a mature condition.
Secondary forest
Forest that has re-grown after a major disturbance, such as fire or timber harvest, but has not yet reached the mature state of primary forest.


  1. IUCN Red List (March, 2010)
  2. Defler, T.R. (2004) Primates of Colombia. Conservation International, Washington, DC, USA.
  3. Hernández-Carnacho, J. and Defler, T.R. (1998) Some aspects of the conservation of non-human primates in Colombia. Primate Conservation, 6: 42-50.
  4. CITES (March, 2010)
  5. Nowak, R.M. (1999) Primates of the World. The John Hopkins University Press, Baltimore, Maryland.
  6. Hildyard, A. (2001) Endangered Wildlife and Plants of the World. Marshall Cavendish Corporation, Tarrytown, New York.
  7. Poveda, K. and Sanchez-Palomino, P. (2004) Habitat use by the white-footed tamarin, Saginus leucopus: a comparison between a forest dwelling group in Mariquita, Colombia. Neotropical Primates, 12(1): 6-9.
  8. Poveda, K., Cadena, A. and Sánchez, P. (2001) Habitat use by two groups of white footed tamarins (Saginus leucopus) in Mariquita, Colombia. The XVIIIth Congress of the International Primatological Society, Adelaide, South Australia.
  9. Sussman, R.W. and Kinzey, W.G. (1984) The ecological role of the Callitrichidae: a review. American Journal of Physical Anthropology, 64: 419-49.
  10. Morales-Jiménez, A.L. (2007) Second Workshop on Captive Management of the Silvery Brown Tamarin in Colombia: Veterinarian Management Standardization. Fundación Biodiversa Colombia, Bogotá, Colombia.
  11. Morales-Jiménez, A.L. and Rivadeneira, S.J. (2006) Saving the Humid Forest of the Magdalena Valley: A Reserve for a Critically Endangered Ecosystem. Fundación Biodiversa Colombia, Bogotá, Colombia.

Image credit

Adult silvery-brown bare-face tamarin  
Adult silvery-brown bare-face tamarin

© Alba Lucia Morales Jimenez

Alba Lucia Morales Jimenez


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