Common names are not officially defined. They are based on everyday conversational language and may differ by country, region, profession, community, or other factors. As a result, it is not unusual for a species to have more than one common name.

Scientific names are in Latin and they are written in italics. They are standardized and for everyone, no matter what language you may speak. They are bound by a formal naming system, called binominal nomenclature, that has strict rules. Scientific names prevent misidentification. Those names only change if a species, or its genus, is officially redesignated by experts.

Common marmosets are native to Brazil. Once found only in Atlantic coastal forests in the northeastern region of the country, years of habitat destruction have forced them to seek new places to live.

Habitat loss, coupled with the release of captive marmosets (former pets) outside of their original range, has led to the species’ geographic distribution throughout Brazil, as far west as the country’s Rio Grande (on the left bank) and as far south as Argentina.

  • The name “marmoset” comes from the French word “marmouset,” meaning “dwarf,” or “little.”
  • Common marmosets have a specialized diet
  • They are uniquely adapted to digest tree gum, sap, and resin
  • This diet cannot be adequately replicated in captivity
  • Common marmosets held captive in research and in the pet trade frequently die from “Marmoset Wasting Syndrome.” They literally waste away from inadquate diet. 
 Lowest risk, they are widespread and abundant in their range.

The near complete destruction of their habitat in northeastern Brazil has severely threatened the species population there and has forced these monkeys to seek a more hospitable habitat. But no welcome mat has greeted them in the southeastern region of the country, where common marmosets have adapted to life at edge forests. Because the monkeys opportunistically visit the plantations in this area, farmers regard and treat them as pests.

In the name of science, common marmosets’ small bodies have been experimented on to discover how humans might be affected by periodontal disease, immunology, obesity, aging, congenital defects, and endocrinology, and other conditions.

Common marmosets are also captured and illegally traded as pets. 

  1. Although small and cute, marmosets, like all primates, do not make good pets.
  2. They do not fare well in captivity. Poor diet and exposure to human diseases threaten their health. Marmosets are especially prone to failing in captivity due inadequate diets. 
  3. As they age and become destructive in their human households, marmosets are often abandoned or killed by their human keepers.
  4. To become pets, common marmosets are stolen from their mothers as babies. As a result, they do not develop normally emotionally.
  5. Monkeys are never domesticated. They always remain wild. 
  6. Caged monkeys of every kind are very unhappy and frustrated. They are likely to resist confinement. They are quick and cause damaging bites and scratches.
  7. Many locations have strict regulations that prohibit trading in or keeping monkeys are pets.
  8. Common marmosets belong with other marmosets in Brazil. They and their habitats must be protected, not exploited.

Visit the COMMON MARMOSET Primate Species Profile

 Copyright © New England Primate Conservancy 2019. You may freely use and share these learning activities for educational purposes. 
For questions or comments, e-mail us at [email protected].