Club Rio down at The Springs resort in Costa Rica has 5 new arrivals to its already abundant array of wild animals. These curious, mischievous and unique little individuals go by the names of Inky , Pinky, Ponky Luciana and Tokolosh. We here at Club Rio prefer to see these little, and when I say little I mean “teeny tiny” friends of ours as unique individuals with very intricate and diverse personalities, most people would at first glance realize that they are better known as Marmosets.
There are several various species of Marmosets, and these particular few happen to be the Common Marmoset (Callithrix jacchus). These animals are native only to east-central Brazil, how they happened to become part of our family here at Club Rio is a very unique story. These animals as with many animals at our sanctuary were illegally held as domestic pets. These animals although cute, furry and friendly are not able to adapt to a lifestyle as a pet, and rightly so. Thus they have been sent to us down here as we are able to emulate their natural environment quite effectively resulting in a happier and healthier animal.
To shed some light on these marmosets, Common marmosets live in stable extended families with only a few members allowed to breed. A marmoset group can contain as many as 15 members, but a more typical number is nine. A marmoset family usually contains 1-2 breeding females, a breeding male, their offspring and their adult relatives, be it their parents or siblings. The females in a group tend to be closely related and males less so. Males do not mate with breeding females that they are related to. Marmosets may leave their natal groups when they become adults, in contrast to other primate species who leave at adolescence. Not much is known of the reasons marmosets leave their natal groups. Family groups will fission into new groups when a breeding male dies. Within the family groups, the breeding individuals tend to be more dominant. The breeding male and female tend to share dominance. However, between two breeding females, one is more dominant. In addition, the subordinate female is usually the daughter of the dominant one. For the other members, social rank is based on age. Dominance is maintained through various behaviors, postures and vocalizations and subordinates will groom their superiors
Common marmosets employ a number of vocal and visual communications. To signal alarm, aggression, and submission, marmosets use the “partial open mouth stare,” “frown,” and “slit-stare”, respectively. To display fear or submission, marmosets flatten their ear-tufts close to their heads. Marmosets have two alarm calls: a series of repeating calls that get higher with each call, known as “staccatos”; and short trickling calls given either intermittently or repeatedly. These are called “tsiks”. Marmoset alarm calls tend to be short and high-pitched.Marmosets monitor and locate group members with vibrato-like low-pitched generic calls called “trills”. Marmosets also employ “phees” which are whistle-like generic calls. These serve to attract mates, keep groups together, defend territories, and locate missing group members. Marmosets will use scent gland on their chests and anogenital regions to mark objects. These are meant to communicate social and reproductive status.
As I stated earlier, these peculiar little animals are definitely a pleasure to be around, they’re extremely friendly, and have quite a unique sense of character. It’s an enjoyable experience being able to interact with them, knowing that they are in an environment similar to that of their natural habitat, that they’re healthy and happy too. Next time you stop by Club Rio be sure to ask your guide about these furry little creatures and their unique attributes. It is impossible to leave untouched by these special little beings.