Saguinus nigricollisblack-mantled tamarin

Geographic Range

Saguinus nigricollis is found in South America. They are located east of the Andes Mountains in Ecuador, and range west into the upper parts of Peru and Brazil, as well as the southern portion of Colombia (Emmons 1990).


Black-mantled tamarins prefer mature forests, as well as dense secondary tropical rainforests. Those living on forest peripheries are found below 913 m.

(Emmons 1990, Nowak 1999, Rowe 1996)

Physical Description

The head and body length of S. nigricollis is 220 to 226 mm. Tail length ranges between 356 - 361 mm, almost twice the length of its body. And females weigh about 480 g, on average 10 grams more than males. Black-mantled Tamarins have black fur reaching from the head to the middle of the back, where it transitions into a reddish color. The hands, feet, and tail are black. They have hairless ears, and grayish-white hairs surrounding their muzzle. Saguinus nigricollis living west of the Iquitos river differ from those living to the east. West of the Iquitos Black-mantled Tamarins have blackish grizzled olivaceous forequarters while the bottom half is blackish yellow-olivaceous. (Emmons 1990, Rowe 1996)

  • Average mass
    475 g
    16.74 oz
  • Average mass
    519.2 g
    18.30 oz
  • Range length
    220 to 226 mm
    8.66 to 8.90 in


In the wild only the dominant female of the group breeds during the breeding season. The Genus Saguinus have specialized scent glands in the mid-chest region and in the area around the genitalia. It is thought that reproduction is suppressed in other females due to subordination by the dominant female and pheromones in the scent marks from her circumgenital glands. Dominant females typically have multiple male mating partners, though they may also have only one. (Macdonald 1984, Nowak 1999, Rowe 1996)

Saguinus nigricollis has a gestation period of about 140 days, at which time females give birth to twins (78% of births). Birth to one offspring occurs 21% of the time, while three offspring occur 1% of the time. Black-mantled Tamarins give birth year-round and have a birth interval of about 8.4 months. (Macdonald 1984, Nowak 1999, Rowe 1996)

  • Breeding season
    Breeding and births occur year-round.
  • Range number of offspring
    1 to 3
  • Average number of offspring
  • Average gestation period
    140 days
  • Average gestation period
    140 days
  • Range weaning age
    4 (low) weeks
  • Range age at sexual or reproductive maturity (female)
    18 to 24 months
  • Range age at sexual or reproductive maturity (male)
    18 to 24 months

In the genus Saguinus the father, and occasionally other adult group members, help during the birth by receiving and washing the newborn. The helpless young have short hair and cling tightly to the mother or father. The father will hand the young to the mother for feeding time, but then take them back once feeding is finished. This process happens about every 2 to 3 hours and lasts about 30 minutes. After 21 days the infants begin to explore new, nearby areas, but still ride on their parent’s back for about 3 to 4 more weeks. After only 4 weeks the young begin to eat soft food in addition to the milk from their mother. Several members of a Saguinus group will help provide food and care for the infants. (Macdonald, 1984; Nowak, 1999; Rowe, 1996)

  • Parental Investment
  • altricial
  • pre-hatching/birth
    • provisioning
      • female
    • protecting
      • female
  • pre-weaning/fledging
    • provisioning
      • female
    • protecting
      • male
  • pre-independence
    • provisioning
      • female
    • protecting
      • male
  • post-independence association with parents
  • extended period of juvenile learning


Saguinus nigricollis has an average lifespan of 13.9 years in the wild (Rowe 1996).


Black-mantled tamarins live in small multimale-multifemale social groups of 4 to 12 members, and occupy a home range of 30 to 50 hectares. These groups are made up of unrelated adults. There are few agonistic interactions within the group. Mixed-species associations have been reported between S. nigricollis and S. fuscicollis (Saddle-back Tamarins). It is believed that mixed-species groups are formed to aid in protection from predators.

Members of a group will usually sleep together in a clump. Vines tangles are normal roosting sites for S. nigricollis. Compared to other primates, tamarins seem to initiate daily activities late in the morning, from several minutes to an hour after the sun rises. Saguinus nigricollis rest 2 to 3 times a day for 60 to 90 minutes each time. There are two peaks for foraging. The first occurs early to mid-morning and the second shortly before settling for the night.

Many species of tamarins have been observed at play. Most usually it is the juveniles which initiate play and rarely do infants and adults or infants and subadults ever play. Captive populations have been noted to play more than those in the wild, perhaps because Saguinus in the wild must learn other skills such as insect foraging. (Kinzey, 1997; Wisconsin Primate Research Center, 2000)

Communication and Perception

Food Habits

Saguinus nigricollis spends 34.8% of the day foraging for insects, particularly large orthopterans, and 17% of the day searching for plant food. They feed on a variety of vegetation like fruits, seeds, flowers, nectar, and gum that includes 41 different species of plants. Adult black-mantled tamarins catch flying insects with their mouth and larger insects with their hands. These insects are shared with the infants and juveniles. Large grasshoppers, a favorite food, are eaten headfirst in about 5 minutes. (Emmons, 1990; Nowak, 1999; Wisconsin Primate Research Center, 2000)

  • Animal Foods
  • insects
  • terrestrial non-insect arthropods
  • Plant Foods
  • seeds, grains, and nuts
  • fruit
  • nectar
  • flowers
  • sap or other plant fluids


Tamarins are preyed upon by animals such as raptors, snakes, cats, and even humans. Humans are responsible for depleting the number of surviving Tamarins due to clearing their forest habitat. Tamarins may escape some predation by living in groups where members warn each other of imminent danger. (Nowak 1999, Kinzey 1997)

Ecosystem Roles

Tamarins are important in their ecosystems as predators of insects and other invertebrates, and as prey animals for large predators. They may also disperse seeds from the fruits they eat.

Economic Importance for Humans: Positive

Tamarins are charismatic members of intact tropical forests, making them potentially valuable for ecotourism. Some animals continue to be taken for the pet trade.

Economic Importance for Humans: Negative

There are no adverse effects of Black-mantled Tamarins.

Conservation Status

Black-mantled Tamarins are threatened by forest destruction throughout their range. The subspecies S. nigricollis hernandezi of southern Colombia is considered vulnerable by IUCN.

(Nowak, 1991)


Hayley Eggert (author), University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, Chris Yahnke (editor), University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point.



living in the southern part of the New World. In other words, Central and South America.

World Map


young are born in a relatively underdeveloped state; they are unable to feed or care for themselves or locomote independently for a period of time after birth/hatching. In birds, naked and helpless after hatching.


Referring to an animal that lives in trees; tree-climbing.

bilateral symmetry

having body symmetry such that the animal can be divided in one plane into two mirror-image halves. Animals with bilateral symmetry have dorsal and ventral sides, as well as anterior and posterior ends. Synapomorphy of the Bilateria.


uses smells or other chemicals to communicate

cooperative breeder

helpers provide assistance in raising young that are not their own

  1. active during the day, 2. lasting for one day.

humans benefit economically by promoting tourism that focuses on the appreciation of natural areas or animals. Ecotourism implies that there are existing programs that profit from the appreciation of natural areas or animals.


animals that use metabolically generated heat to regulate body temperature independently of ambient temperature. Endothermy is a synapomorphy of the Mammalia, although it may have arisen in a (now extinct) synapsid ancestor; the fossil record does not distinguish these possibilities. Convergent in birds.


union of egg and spermatozoan


forest biomes are dominated by trees, otherwise forest biomes can vary widely in amount of precipitation and seasonality.

internal fertilization

fertilization takes place within the female's body


offspring are produced in more than one group (litters, clutches, etc.) and across multiple seasons (or other periods hospitable to reproduction). Iteroparous animals must, by definition, survive over multiple seasons (or periodic condition changes).


having the capacity to move from one place to another.

native range

the area in which the animal is naturally found, the region in which it is endemic.


an animal that mainly eats all kinds of things, including plants and animals

pet trade

the business of buying and selling animals for people to keep in their homes as pets.


Referring to a mating system in which a female mates with several males during one breeding season (compare polygynous).


rainforests, both temperate and tropical, are dominated by trees often forming a closed canopy with little light reaching the ground. Epiphytes and climbing plants are also abundant. Precipitation is typically not limiting, but may be somewhat seasonal.


remains in the same area


reproduction that includes combining the genetic contribution of two individuals, a male and a female


associates with others of its species; forms social groups.


uses touch to communicate


Living on the ground.


the region of the earth that surrounds the equator, from 23.5 degrees north to 23.5 degrees south.


reproduction in which fertilization and development take place within the female body and the developing embryo derives nourishment from the female.

year-round breeding

breeding takes place throughout the year


Emmons, L. 1990. Neotropical rainforest mammals: a field guide. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.

Kinzey, W. 1997. New world primates: ecology, evolution, and behavior. New York: Walter de Gruyter, Inc..

Macdonald, D. 1984. The Encyclopedia of mammals. New York, New York: Facts On File, Inc.

Nowak, R. 1999. Walker's mammals of the world. Baltimore, Maryland: The John Hopkins University Press.

Rowe, N. 1996. The Pictorial Guide to The Living Primates. East Hampton, New York: Pogonias Press.

Wisconsin Primate Research Center, 2000. "Black-mantle Tamarin (Saguinus nigricollis)" (On-line). Primate Info Net. Accessed 12/04/01 at