Brazil, Colombia, Peru, Ecuador, and northern Bolivia in South America


Along rivers and tropical forests

Mini monkeys

High in the rain forest canopy of South America lives a tiny animal that dodges behind tree trunks and branches, alternately freezing and dashing, just like a squirrel. It also has brown fur and a long tail like a squirrel—but it's really a pygmy marmoset, the world's smallest monkey! Marmosets and their cousins, the tamarins, are some of the tiniest primates around, but pygmy marmosets are different enough to be classified apart from other marmoset species.

An amazing tail

A full-grown pygmy marmoset could easily sit in an adult human's hand, and it weighs about as much as a stick of butter. But there is nothing tiny about a pygmy marmoset's tail: it's longer than its body! The tail is not prehensile, but it helps the little monkey keep its balance as it gallops through the treetops.

The word marmoset comes from the French word “marmouset,” meaning “shrimp” or “dwarf.”
The pygmy marmoset is the smallest monkey but not the smallest primate—that's the mouse lemur.
The pygmy marmoset's claw-like nails are called tegulae. The flat nails that other primates have are called ungulae.

A family group of pygmy marmosets lives in an off-exhibit area of the Zoo.

If the current rate of habitat destruction can be slowed, these tiny monkeys will have a big chance at long-term survival in their forest home.

You can help us bring other primate species back from the brink by supporting the San Diego Zoo Global Wildlife Conservancy. Together we can save and protect wildlife around the globe.