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Thursday, August 22, 2013

Species Fact Profile: Golden-Headed Lion Tamarin (Leontopithecus chrysomelas)

Golden-Headed Lion Tamarin

Leontopithecus chrysomelas (Kuhl, 1820)

Range: Southeastern Brazil (Bahia and Minas Gerais)
Habitat: Primary Lowland Rainforest
Diet: Insects, Fruits, Snails, Small Verebrates
Social Grouping: Groups of 2-11, mated pair and offspring
Reproduction:  Breed September – March (the warmest and wettest time of year), 2-3 week estrous period; after gestation period of 128 days, 1-3 babies (usually twins) are born; the dominant female suppresses reproduction in subordinate females
Lifespan: 15 years +
Conservation Status: IUCN Endangered, CITES Appendix I

  • Head and body length 20-33 centimeters, with an additional 31-40 centimeters of tail; weight 600-800 grams
  • Fur is mostly black, but with some reddish-gold, especially the long hairs that form the mane around the neck (hence the name "lion tamarin")
  •  Previously, all four species of lion tamarin were considered to be color variants of one species: Leontopithecus rosalia the golden lion tamarin
  •  Almost exclusively arboreal, they are usually found at 3-10 meters in trees; they are very active, very agile leapers and climbers
  • Diurnal (active by day), they spend their nights sleeping in tree cavities or stretched out on vines
  • Occupy home range of 200 hectares; a portion of this home range is an actively defended territory
  • Adults of either sex can be aggressive to rivals of the same sex and may fight to the death; the adult pair of a group are equal to one another in dominance
  •  The father begins carrying the babies a few days after they are born; by the time the babies are three weeks old, they spend most of their time with him.  This allows the mother more freedom to find food and obtain the energy she needs to produce milk
  • While it is threatened by habitat loss and illegal collection for the pet trade, this species is still the most common species of lion tamarin, both in the wild and in captivity

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