Pied Tamarin

Saguinus bicolor

Last updated: May 27, 2024
Verified by: AZ Animals Staff
Berendje Fotografie/Shutterstock.com

Only found in one area of Brazil!


Pied Tamarin Scientific Classification

Scientific Name
Saguinus bicolor

Read our Complete Guide to Classification of Animals.

Pied Tamarin Conservation Status

Pied Tamarin Locations

Pied Tamarin Locations

Pied Tamarin Facts

Main Prey
Fruit, Insects, Rodents
Distinctive Feature
Small body size and long, thin tail
Lowland tropical forest
Hawks, Snakes, Wild Cats
Average Litter Size
  • Troop
Favorite Food
Only found in one area of Brazil!

Pied Tamarin Physical Characteristics

  • Brown
  • Red
  • Black
  • White
  • Tan
Skin Type
Top Speed
24 mph
8 - 15 years
220g - 900g (7.7oz - 32oz)
18cm - 30cm (7in - 12in)

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“One of the 25 Most Endangered Primates”

Pied tamarins are endangered primates in northwest Brazil. The Yoda-looking species, who enjoy strong social bonds, also go by Brazilian bare-faced tamarins.

Primates in Peril list pied tamarins as one of the 25 most endangered primates. Furthermore, according to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, the species’ population has dropped more than 80 percent over three generations, making these tamarins Critically Endangered.

Urban sprawl and rural expansion are exceptionally destructive to the species, and many conservation groups are working to ensure tamarin survival.

Incredible Pied Tamarin Facts!

  • Pied tamarins only live in a quadrant of restricted rainforest in Brazil. However, conservationists are worried that lawmakers may sacrifice protected areas in favor of expansion.
  • Pied tamarins are New World monkeys — a taxonomic grouping of five primate families found in the tropical regions of Central America, South America, and Mexico.
  • The biggest threat to Brazilian bare-faced tamarins is habitat destruction linked to Manaus — a bustling metropolis in the heart of the Amazon Rainforest.
  • Pied tamarins are one of the only species in its genus with hairless faces.

Pied Tamarin Scientific Name

Saguinus bicolor is the scientific name for these tamarins. Saguinus is a portmanteau of the Portuguese word “sagui,” which translates to “small monkey,” and the Latin suffix “inus,” meaning “of or pertaining to.” Bicolor refers to the animal’s dual-toned fur.

Colloquially, pied means “having two or more colors,” and tamarin describes species in the marmoset — the small monkey — family. Most have distinctive fur tufts around the shoulders and neck — in addition to hairy faces. However, pied tamarins stand apart from the marmoset pack with their hairless mugs.

Pied Tamarin Appearance and Behavior


At 7 to 11 inches and only weighing about 430 grams — just short of a pound — these tamarins are small compared to other primates. However, they’re one of the larger tamarin species — and have proportionally large claws!

Pied tamarins’ necks and shoulders are wreathed in shaggy white fur. But, from the waist down, they don almond-colored coats.

These tamarins’ black hairless faces, large distinct ears, and round eyes make for a very “Yoda-esque” visage.

Speaking of eyes, females of the species can see more colors than males because the former enjoy trichromatic vision and the latter only dichromatic.

As for the rest of their features, these tamarins sport flat noses with sideways nostrils and have 32 teeth. Plus, instead of fingernails, claws extended from pied tamarins’ toes — except on the big toe.

Pied Tamarin (Saguinus Bicolor) - jumping off a tree branch

Pied tamarin or Saguinus bicolor hopping on a branch


These tamarins are social animals that live in small cooperative groups of up to 15 individuals, but most have between five and seven members.

A matriarchal, polyandrous species, pied tamarin clusters are led by alpha females who are the only lady members of the tribe to mate and give birth. Other females in the group exhibit reproductive instincts, but they self-suppress urges.

Pied tamarins are highly territorial animals that use body language and high-pitched vocalizations to alert friends and scare enemies. A journalist embedded with researchers in the Amazon once described the monkey’s chatter as sounding like a “boiling teapot doing morse code.”

Diurnal, arboreal, and quadrupedal, Brazilian bare-faced tamarins spend their days foraging in trees using all four limbs for locomotion.

Additionally, like most primates, these tamarins use a multi-faceted communication system involving scent markings, body language, and a series of whistles and chirps. Grooming is central to their lives and plays a major role in maintaining social balance.

Pied Tamarin Habitat

Pied tamarins only live in one Brazilian region in and around Manaus, Amazonas. The real-life Wakanda of South America, Manaus is a booming, high-tech city smack in the middle of the Amazon Rainforest.

The rivers Amazon, Cuieiras, Negro, and Urubu outline the species’ historical region. The species can be found 27 miles north of Manaus and up to 62 miles east.

The bare-faced monkeys prefer lowland rainforests and typically hang in elevations between 32 and 40 feet. Currently, various preservation initiatives protect tamarin habitats. However, conservationists worry about politicians dismantling current protections and, by extension, eliminating area endangered species.

Pied Tamarin Diet

These tamarins are omnivores that enjoy figs, flowers, fruits, insects, spiders, frogs, lizards, and bird eggs. However, they prefer to feast on plants and fruits.

Scientists who work with these tamarins in captivity have had difficulties developing ideal diets for their subjects. As a result, many of the small monkeys living in zoos and labs struggle with breeding and reproduction. However, the more we learn about nutrition, the more progress researchers are making.

Pied Tamarin Predators and Threats

Small wild cats, birds of prey, and snakes are the tamarins’ natural predators. Dogs and cats introduced to the region by humans also attack the small primates.

Food competition is another major headache for pied tamarins. Red-handed and golden-handed tamarins also occupy the same area, eat the same foods, and may be displacing pied tamarins.

But ultimately, habitat destruction is the species’ main threat. Manaus, the city in pied tamarins’ historical region, is expanding, as are surrounding farmlands — and the concomitant road-building and field clearing are destroying the monkey’s natural homes. Electrocution is also on the rise.

Pied Tamarin Reproduction, Babies, and Lifespan


Only alpha females reproduce in these tamarin groups, and they mate with several males. Gestation lasts between 140 and 170 days, 80 percent of births produce twins, and dad does most of the infant care. Mothers step in when the baby needs to nurse, but the father and other group members handle the rest.


Baby tamarins aren’t independent and cling to their parents for about 21 days. Newborns mostly stick to their fathers, except when it’s time to eat, and they’re handed off to mom. Additionally, other members of the traveling pack will take turns carrying and caring for babies.

What are baby pied tamarins called? Like humans, brand new monkeys are called “infants.”

When infants reach a month old, they start exploring a bit on their own but still spend six to seven weeks strapped to someone else.

Females reach reproductive maturity at 18 months; for males, it takes 20 months.


In the wild, these tamarins typically live 10 years. In captivity, many survive to about 19.

Pied Tamarin Population

Even though conservationists don’t have a firm count on the number of remaining pied tamarins, experts consider the animal Critically Endangered because their population has decreased by at least 80 percent over the past three generations.

Primatologists now mostly agree that these tamarins have three subspecies: S.b. bicolour, S.b. ochraceus, and S.b. martinsi. They all have slightly different coloring but live in the same region.

Pied Tamarins in U.S. Zoos

Currently, 170 tamarins live in zoos worldwide. In the United States:

This is not an exhaustive list. To find a zoo near you with these tamarins, turn to a search engine.

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Pied Tamarin FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) 

Are Pied Tamarins Carnivores, Herbivores, or Omnivores?

Pied tamarins eat everything from figs to lizards, making them omnivores. However, the bare-faced monkeys prefer plants, fruits, and veggies over meat.

What Is the Scientific Name for the Pied Tamarin?

The scientific name for pied tamarin is Saguinus bicolor. Saguinus comes from Portuguese and Latin and refers to small monkeys. Bicolor is a reference to the species’ two-shade fur.

How Many Teeth Do Pied Tamarins Have?

Pied tamarins have 32 teeth.

What Family Are the Pied Tamarin In?

Taxonomically, pied tamarins are members of the Callitrichidae family, consisting of lion tamarins, tamarins, and marmosets. They’re also New World monkeys, a group of five primate species endemic to tropical regions of Central and South America, plus Mexico.

Are Pied Tamarins Endangered?

Yes, pied tamarins are flirting with extinction. Since the hairless-faced monkeys only live in one small area of Brazil, they’re vulnerable. The IUCN categorizes the small primates as Critically Endangered.

How Many Pied Tamarins Are Left in the World?

Despite being an endangered species, scientists don’t have a firm count on the number of animals remaining. What they know is that the population has plummeted by over 80 percent over three generations — a concerning decline.

How Much Do Pied Tamarins Weigh?

Pied tamarins are very light. The bare-faced primates weigh about 430 grams. In imperial measurements, that’s 15 ounces, or just under one pound — about the same as a baseball.

What Kingdom do Pied Tamarins belong to?

Pied Tamarins belong to the Kingdom Animalia.

What phylum to Pied Tamarins belong to?

Pied Tamarins belong to the phylum Chordata.

What family do Pied Tamarins belong to?

Pied Tamarins belong to the family Callitrichidae.

What order do Pied Tamarins belong to?

Pied Tamarins belong to the order Primates.

What genus do Pied Tamarins belong to?

Pied Tamarins belong to the genus Saguinus.

What type of covering do Pied Tamarins have?

Pied Tamarins are covered in Fur.

In what type of habitat do Pied Tamarins live?

Pied Tamarins live in lowland tropical forests.

What is the main prey for Pied Tamarins?

Pied Tamarins eat fruit, insects, and rodents.

What are some predators of Pied Tamarins?

Predators of Pied Tamarins include hawks, snakes, and wild cats.

What are some distinguishing features of Pied Tamarins?

Pied Tamarins have small bodies and long, thin tails.

How many babies do Pied Tamarins have?

The average number of babies a Pied Tamarin has is 2.

What is an interesting fact about Pied Tamarins?

Pied Tamarins are only found in one area of Brazil!

What is the lifespan of a Pied Tamarin?

Pied Tamarins can live for 8 to 15 years.

How fast is a Pied Tamarin?

A Pied Tamarin can travel at speeds of up to 24 miles per hour.

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