Golden-mantle saddleback tamarin (Saguinus tripartitus)

Golden-mantle saddleback tamarin among branches
IUCN Red List species status – Near Threatened NEAR

Top facts

  • The golden-mantle saddleback tamarin is named for the bright golden-orange fur around its torso.
  • Unlike most other primates, tamarins have claws instead of nails on all digits except the big toes.
  • Unlike the related marmosets, tamarins are not able to gnaw holes in wood to stimulate the flow of gum, so can only eat gum from pre-existing wounds on trees.
  • The golden-mantle saddleback tamarin gives birth to twins which together weigh up to 25% of the female’s body weight.
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Golden-mantle saddleback tamarin fact file

Golden-mantle saddleback tamarin description

GenusSaguinus (1)

The golden-mantle saddleback tamarin (Saguinus tripartitus) is a small New World primate with a black head, white face and a characteristic saddle-like mantle of bright golden-orange fur around its torso. The rest of the golden-mantle saddleback tamarin’s back is a mixture of grey, white and orange, while its underparts and limbs are orange, and the feet are blackish-orange (2).

Like other tamarins, the golden-mantle saddleback tamarin has a relatively long body, long legs and a long, non-prehensile tail (4) (5), which in this species is black with orange below at the base (2). The head is rounded with a short, blunt muzzle (5). As in other tamarin monkeys, there are few differences in size or appearance between the male and female golden-mantle saddleback tamarin (6).

Unusually for primates, tamarins have claws rather than nails on all their digits except the big toes (4). This adaptation allows the golden-mantle saddleback tamarin to cling to the sides of large tree trunks and to move through its environment by quadrupedal walking, running, jumping and leaping (4) (5).

The golden-mantle saddleback tamarin was previously considered to be a subspecies of the saddleback tamarin (Saguinus fuscicollis) (1) (2) (7). However, it is quite distinct in appearance (2), differing mainly in its golden mantle and in the prominent chevron mark between and above its eyes, which is usually absent in the saddleback tamarin (7).

Also known as
golden-mantled saddle-back tamarin, golden-mantled tamarin.
Chichico Amarillo, Chichico De Manto Anaranjado, Chichico De Manto Dorado, Pichico Barba Blanca, Tamarino De Espalda Dorada.
Head-body length: 21.8 - 24 cm (2)
Tail length: 31.6 - 34 cm (2)

Golden-mantle saddleback tamarin biology

The golden-mantle saddleback tamarin is a diurnal species (2) that feeds on fruit, insects, nectar, and plant sap and gum, as well as some small vertebrates (1) (5) (9) (10). Nectar may be particularly important to tamarins during the dry season, when fruit availability is lower (4) (9).

This species lives for approximately 6 years in the wild (11) and is found in extended family groups of about 4 to 15 individuals (1). The golden-mantle saddleback tamarin is thought to be mainly polyandrous, with a female mating with more than one male (12).

The female golden-mantle saddleback tamarin gives birth to twins (1) (4) (5) (12) which are cared for by all group members (6) (12). Males play an active role in caring for the young (4) (5) and are primarily responsible for transporting them around (4). Unusually for a primate, breeding within the group is usually limited to a dominant female and one or two dominant males, with subordinate males and females being prevented from reproducing. Offspring remain in the family group for an extended period (6).

Like other tamarins, the golden-mantle saddleback tamarin is likely to communicate with other group members via chemical scent marking, to signal information on individual identity, reproductive status and social rank. Scent is also thought to help prevent subordinate individuals from breeding, by influencing their hormone levels (6). The golden-mantle saddleback tamarin also communicates vocally, with calls that resemble the chirp of a small bird (5).


Golden-mantle saddleback tamarin range

The golden-mantle saddleback tamarin is found in the upper Amazon Basin (1), where it occurs between the Napo River and Curaray River in northern Peru and eastern Ecuador, west to the Andes Mountains (1) (2) (8).

In Ecuador, the range of the golden-mantle saddleback tamarin occurs mostly within the Yasuní National Park and the Indigenous Reserve of Huaorani (9).


Golden-mantle saddleback tamarin habitat

The golden-mantle saddleback tamarin’s habitat includes rainforest, seasonally flooded forest, riparian forest, remnant forest and secondary forest in the Amazonian lowlands (1) (2).

Like other tamarins, the golden-mantle saddleback tamarin usually moves around in the middle and lower levels of the forest, and uses tree holes to sleep in at night (5).


Golden-mantle saddleback tamarin status

The golden-mantle saddleback tamarin is classified as Near Threatened (NT) on the IUCN Red List (1) and is listed on Appendix II of CITES (3).

IUCN Red List species status – Near Threatened


Golden-mantle saddleback tamarin threats

The part of the Amazon where the golden-mantle saddleback tamarin is found is remote and has so far suffered relatively little impact from human activities (1). However, the presence of petroleum in the region has prompted construction of the Pompeya-Iro highway, which could potentially threaten the future of the forest and its wildlife (1).

Some of the forests inhabited by the golden-mantle saddleback tamarin may also be under threat from logging, mining, cattle ranching and coca (Erythroxylum coca) production (13).


Golden-mantle saddleback tamarin conservation

The golden-mantle saddleback tamarin is found in the Yasuní National Park in Ecuador, but has not been recorded in any protected areas in Peru (1). Any international trade in this small primate should be carefully controlled under its listing on Appendix II of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) (3).

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

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Active during the day.
A mating system in which a female mates with several males during one breeding season.
Capable of grasping.
Describes an animal that walks on all four feet.
Relating to the banks of watercourses.
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.
A population usually restricted to a geographical area that differs from other populations of the same species, but not to the extent of being classified as a separate species.
Animals with a backbone, including mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians and fish.


  1. IUCN Red List (August, 2012)
  2. Emmons, L.H. (1997) Neotropical Rainforest Mammals: A Field Guide. Second Edition. University of Chicago Press, Chicago.
  3. CITES (February, 2012)
  4. Fleagle, J.G. (1999) Primate Adaptation and Evolution. Second Edition. Academic Press, New York.
  5. Ankel-Simons, F. (1999) Primate Anatomy: An Introduction. Academic Press, San Diego, California.
  6. French, J.A. and Fite, J.E. (2005) Enrichment for Nonhuman Primates: Marmosets and Tamarins (Callitrichids). University of Nebraska at Omaha, Omaha. Available at:
  7. Thorington Jr, R.W. (1988) Taxonomic status of Saguinus tripartitus (Milne-Edwards, 1878). American Journal of Primatology, 15: 367-371.
  8. Rylands, A.B., Matauschek, C., Aquino, R., Encarnación, F., Heymann, E.W., de la Torre, S. and Mittermeier, R.A. (2011) The range of the golden-mantle tamarin, Saguinus tripartitus (Milne Edwards, 1878): distributions and sympatry of four tamarin species in Colombia, Ecuador, and northern Peru. Primates, 52: 25-39.
  9. Kostrub, C.E. (1997) Preliminary field observations of golden-mantled tamarins, Saguinus tripartitus, in eastern Ecuador. Neotropical Primates, 5(4): 102-103.
  10. Heymann, E.W. (2000) Field observations of the golden-mantled tamarin, Saguinus tripartitus, on the Río Curaray, Peruvian Amazonia. Folia Primatologica, 71(6): 392-398.
  11. Primate Info Net - The Life Spans of Nonhuman Primates (January, 2012)
  12. Kinzey, W.G. (1997) New World Primates: Ecology, Evolution, and Behavior. Aldine Transaction, Piscataway, New Jersey.
  13. WWF WildFinder: Terrestrial Ecoregions - Northern South America: northwestern Brazil, southern Colombia, and northern Peru - Neotropic (NT0163) (February, 2012)

Image credit

Golden-mantle saddleback tamarin among branches  
Golden-mantle saddleback tamarin among branches

© John Norton

John Norton


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