Dusky titi monkey

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This sheet covers all species in the Callicebus moloch, Callicebus cupreus and Callicebus donacophilus groups


Suborder: Haplorrhini
Infraorder: Simiiformes
Family: Pitheciidae
Subfamily: Callicebinae
Genus: Callicebus
Species: C. aureipalatii, C. baptista, C. bernhardi, C. brunneus, C. caligatus, C. cinerascens, C. cupreus, C. discolor, C. donacophilus, C. dubius, C. hoffmannsi, C. modestus, C. moloch, C. oenanthe, C. olallae, C. ornatus, C. pallescens, C. stephennashi

Other names: titi monkey, luca luca, lucachi; callicèbe (French); springaffe (German); zogue-zogue (Spanish); C. aureipalatii: golden palace monkey, Madidi titi monkey; C. baptista: Baptista lake titi; C. bernhardi: Prince Bernhard’s titi monkey; C. brunneus: brown titi monkey; brun springapa (Swedish); C. caligatus: booted titi, chestnut-bellied titi; brunbröstad springapa (Swedish); C. cinerascens: ashy black titi, ashy titi, ashy-grey titi; askgrå springapa (Swedish); C. cupreus: coppery titi monkey, red titi monkey; callicébe roux (French); roter springaffe, kopferfürbiger springaffe (German); kopparspringapa, röd springapa (Swedish); C. discolor: red titi; socayo, songo songo (Spanish); C. donacophilus: Bolivian grey titi, Bolivian titi monkey, white-eared titi; vitörad springapa (Swedish); C. dubius: doubtful titi monkey, dubious titi, Hershkovitz’s titi; vitpannad springapa (Swedish); C. hoffmannsi: Hoffmann’s titi monkey; gulbröstad springapa, Hoffmanns springapa (Swedish); C. modestus: Bolivian titi, modest titi, Rio Beni titi, mono tití (Spanish); Boliviansk springapa, gråbrun springapa (Swedish); C. moloch: dusky titi, red-bellied titi; grijze springaap (Dutch); titi molock (French); grå springapa, mörk springapa, orabassn (Swedish); C. oenanthe: Andean titi monkey, Rio Mayo titi; sugkamat (Aguaruna); bergsspringapa (Swedish); C. olallae: Beni titi monkey, Olalla’s titi, Ollala brothers’ titi; mono tití (Spanish); benispringapa, Olallas springapa (Swedish); C. ornatus: ornate titi monkey; C. pallescens: white-coated titi; C. stephennashi: Stephen Nash’s titi monkey.

Conservation status: please search the IUCN Red List.

Life span: approx. 25 years
Total population: Unknown
Regions: South America
Gestation: 128 days (4.2 months)
Height: 333 mm (M), 331 mm (F)
Weight: 1017 g (M), 877 g (F)

Dusky titi

The taxonomic arrangement of this genus is debated (see van Roosmalen et al. 2002). Groves (2001) places titis into four groups, subsuming the Personatus group of van Roosmalen et al. (2002) under the Moloch group. Kobayashi (1995) and van Roosmalen et al. (2002) place the titis into five taxonomic groups; Torquatus, Personatus, Moloch, Cupreus and Donacophilus groups. However, the species in the Personatus group according to Kobayashi (1995) and van Roosmalen et al. (2002) are separated from the other nearest Callicebus species by around 1,000 km (621.4 mi) (van Roosmalen et al. 2002). In addition, the members of their Torquatus group are differentiated from the other groups by habitat and ecology (van Roosmalen et al. 2002). For these reasons, the members of the Torquatus and Personatus groups according to Kobayashi (1995) and van Roosmalen et al. (2002) will be addressed elsewhere and only the members of their Moloch, Cupreus and Donacophilus groups as defined by Kobayashi (1995) and van Roosmalen et al. (2002) will be considered here. The Cupreus group contains C. caligatus, C. cupreus, C. discolor, C. dubius, C. ornatus, and C. stephennashi. The Moloch group consists of C. baptista, C. bernhardi, C. brunneus, C. cinerascens, C. hoffmannsi, and C. moloch. Finally, the Donacophilus group is made up of C. donacophilus, C.modestus, C. oenanthe, C. olallae, and C. pallescens (van Roosmalen et al. 2002). The recently described C. aureipalatii shows physical similarities to members of the Cupreus group but its distribution borders that of members of the Moloch group (Wallace et al. 2006). In this factsheet when titi monkeys are referred to, data about species from the Torquatus and Personatus groups are omitted. In addition, the discussed species are grouped together, primarily due to a lack of information about the majority of the species and presumable similarities in ecology and behavior.


Titi monkeys are small to medium-sized primates, typically about the size of a rabbit (Hershkovitz 1990; Kobayashi 1995). They do not have prehensile tails and are not sexually dimorphic (Hershkovitz 1990). Pelage and body coloration differs markedly between species of titi monkeys, but all species typically have thick fur or are somewhat shaggy in appearance (Hershkovitz 1990). All species can be differentiated based on differences in pelage, body color and pattern (Hershkovitz 1988). Body and extremity pelage can range from blackish, brown, grey to orange, red, or yellow and combinations of the colors. In addition, some species have dorsal surfaces contrasting with the rest of their body, often a lighter shade, while others are fairly uniform in color across their body. The tail sometimes contrasts with the rest of the body and some species have contrasting ear tufts (Rowe 1996).

C. donacophilus is characterized by body and limbs that range from grey agouti to orange agouti with entirely orange chest and belly and white ear tufts. C. cupreus sideburns, ventral surfaces and inner extremities are reddish. This coloration contrasts sharply with the animal’s dorsal surfaces including its tail and head, which are brown. C. moloch is colored in much the same pattern as C. cupreus but its sideburns, ventral surfaces and inner extremities are light-orange to orange. In addition, its dorsal surfaces are greyish to pale-brown agouti (van Roosmalen et al. 2002). The coloration of the forehead and sideburns is either the same as the head or is contrasting in color. The skin of the face, ears and genitals is blackish (Hershkovitz 1990). See van Roosmalen et al. 2002 for more information about variation between titi species.

There is no sexual dimorphism in titi monkeys. The head and body of C. donacophilus males averages 311mm (12.2 in) while females average 340mm (13.4 in). In C. moloch, these measurements average 333mm (13.1in) for males and 331mm (13.0 in) for females. The tail is longer than the head and body combined (Hershkovitz 1990). Body weight is variable, ranging from around 800 g (1.8 lb) to around 1200 g (2.6 lb). C. moloch males range in weight from 850-1200 g (1.9-2.6 lb), averaging 1017 g (2.2 lb) while females range from 700-1020 g (1.5-2.2 lb), but average 877 g (1.9 lb). C. cupreus males average 1106 g, ranging from 1000-1175 g (Hershkovitz 1990).

In captivity, C. donacophilus, C. cupreus, and C. moloch have all lived to older than 25 years and both sexes of differing species have reached that age (Weigl 2005).

Titi monkeys use short leaps to move about the lower levels of the forest, including the understory and brush layer although titis will enter the main canopy (Youlatos 1999; Lawler et al. 2006). Much of the lower levels of the forest are discontinuous, that is, the animals are not able to move without leaping small distances. The majority of these leaps are only for small distances, often less than several body lengths (Lawler et al. 2006). They can be best described as quadrupedal, moving through their environment primarily through walking, clambering, and leaping, supplemented by bounding and climbing (Youlatos 1999). Titi monkeys are only rarely seen on the ground, but when traveling on the ground, titis can move relatively quickly, utilizing a bounding movement which may see them leap as high as a meter off of the ground (Fragaszy 1979; Kinzey 1981). Titis prefer horizontal supports which are less than 5cm in diameter and their tails never touch what they are walking on (Welker et al. 1998a; Youlatos 1999).


Callicebus aureipalatii | Callicebus baptista | Callicebus bernhardi | Callicebus brunneus | Callicebus caligatus | Callicebus cinerascens | Callicebus cupreus | Callicebus discolor | Callicebus donacophilus | Callicebus dubius | Callicebus hoffmannsi | Callicebus modestus | Callicebus moloch | Callicebus oenanthe | Callicebus olallae | Callicebus ornatus | Callicebus pallescens | Callicebus stephennashi

Titi monkeys are widely distributed across South America, found in Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Paraguay, and Peru. The species under consideration here are for the most part found south of the Amazon River and west of the Brazilian cerrado, or grassland (Hershkovitz 1988; van Roosmalen 2002). In the west, the range is limited by altitude and the rise of the Andes and the distribution extends as far south as Paraguay, between the Pilcomayo and Paraguay Rivers (Hershkovitz 1988).

C. baptista, C. bernhardi, C. cinerascens, C. dubius, C. hoffmannsi, C. moloch, and C. stephennashi are only found in Brazil (Hershkovitz 1990; van Roosmalen 2002). Species native to only Bolivia include C. donacophilus and C. aureipalatii, which is restricted to the northwest of the country (Hershkovitz 1990; van Roosmalen 2002; Wallace et al. 2006). Both C. olallae and C. modestus are also only found in Bolivia, but share a restricted distribution, confined only to the upper Rio Beni drainage basin. C. brunneus is also found in Bolivia, but its range extends to Brazil and Peru as well. C. oenanthe is only found in northern Peru. C. caligatus is found in Brazil and Peru and C. cupreus is found in Brazil, Peru, and Ecuador. C. discolor is found in Colombia, Ecuador, Peru and possibly Brazil, although its presence has not been confirmed there. C. ornatus is only found in eastern Colombia and is separated by about 350 km (217.5 mi) from any other member of the Cupreus group by C. torquatus. C. pallescens is the only species of titi monkey found in Paraguay, although it is also found in Brazil (Hershkovitz 1990; van Roosmalen 2002).


Dusky titi

The habitat of the titi monkeys described here are somewhat varied, ranging from evergreen neotropical terra firma rain forest, to floodplain forest, to inundated forest, to forest edge, swamp edge and “broken up” forest areas (Janson pers. comm. cited in Kinzey 1981; Kinzey 1981; Warner 2002). They prefer dense vegetation, often choosing the thickest available including dense tangles, thickets, thorny underbrush and areas that are wet or even waterlogged on the ground as well as areas near streams and lakes (Moynihan 1976; van Roosmalen et al. 2002; Felton et al. 2006). Titis like gallery forest, high forest, liana forest, and treefall edges as well as secondary growth and patches, often in the middle of savanna and near streams (Moynihan 1976; Youlatos 1999). They also are found in flooded forest and dense, low forest with broadleaved trees and bushes (Moynihan 1976).

Titis can also be found in highly disturbed habitats (Ferrari et al. 2000). Among the titis, several species have distinctive habitat preferences not shared by other species. C. donacophilus is found in gallery forests areas nearby or associated with open areas such as grasslands and swampy grasslands while C. cinerascens habitat is associated with cerrado woodlands, an intermediate area between forest and savannah (Ferrari et al. 2000). Titis will also enter and utilize stands of imported bamboo. If present, bamboo can be quite important to the species, probably because titis prefer dense vegetation (Moynihan 1976; Warner 2002). In Colombia, titis can occur in the piedmont as high as 500m (1640.4 ft) altitude while in Peru, C. oenanthe can be found in cloud forests above 800m (2624.7 ft) (Hernández-Camacho & Cooper 1976; Aquino & Encarnación 1994).

Near the eastern end of the contiguous titi distribution in the Brazilian Amazon in the Amazon (Tapajos) National Park, rainfall averages 175.4 cm (69.1 in) annually with a dry season between July and November and the highest rainfall between February and March (Branch 1983). Further west, in Peru, the dry season is somewhat earlier, occurring between May and September or early October (Terborgh 1983; Warner 2002). However, the timing of the dry and wet seasons can vary considerably from year to year (Terborgh 1983). Average temperatures at the Cocha Cashu study site in Peru can range from a high of around 30°C (86°F), usually between August, September and October to typical lows between 14-16°C (57.2-60.8°F) (Terborgh 1983). Rainfall at Cocha Cashu averages around 200 cm (78.7 in) annually, mostly between October and April (Wright 1996).


Dusky titi

Titi monkeys are predominantly frugivores who will also eat some invertebrates and other parts of plants (Wright 1989). Titis will eat over a hundred different species of fruit and plants (Wright 1985). Other researchers describe them as strongly omnivorous (Izawa & Yoneda 1981). Due to their predominantly vegetarian diet, a significant portion of their day is spent at rest, from less than 25% in C. discolor in Ecuador (including periods when they are resting out of view) to 60% in C. moloch in Peru (Terborgh 1985; Carrillo-Bilbao et al. 2005; Lawrence 2007). Based on time spent feeding during the dry season in Peru, titis eat 70% fruit, 26% leaves, and less than 1% insects (Kinzey 1978). They prefer fruits from small trees because they can economically exploit foods concentrated as such, and they will often eat fruit that is not ripe (Wright 1989). Titis will eat moths, butterfies, cocoons, spiders, and ants, generally less than 2cm (.8 in) in size and are able to capture flying insects from the air (Meritt 1980; Crandlemire-Sacco 1988; Wright 1985; 1989). When it comes to prey however, titis will only rarely seek out prey and prefer to scan their environment for their quarry in a stationary manner (Crandlemire-Sacco 1988; Wright 1989). In addition a large proportion of the diet is leaves, especially young leaves and leaf buds, which supply protein (Terborgh 1985; Crandlemire-Sacco 1988). A large proportion of the titi’s feeding time is spent in smaller trees often with small crowns less than 10 m in diameter (Wright 1984a; 1985). They will not eat exudates (Crandlemire-Sacco 1988). In addition, there is an increase in feeding time on leaves, including vine and bamboo leaves, during the dry season (Wright 1989; Lawrence 2007). During lactation, the proportion of insects in the diet of females increases, probably due to an increased protein need (Herrera & Heymann 2003).

The titi is diurnal (Mason 1968). Titis will rise early in the morning after sunrise and will remain awake and active until around sunset or slightly before (Kinzey 1978; Wright 1989). However, the length of daily activity varies with the seasons, with titis rising before dawn in the warmer months when more fruit is available and sometimes staying in the sleeping site for up to four hours after sunrise in colder months when fruits are harder to find (Wright 1989). The day is typically divided up into two main feeding sessions, one in the morning and one in the afternoon, separated by a period of rest at midday (Kinzey 1978; Mason pers. comm. cited in Kinzey 1978). The last several hours of the day are often spent intensely feeding on leaves (Janson pers. comm. cited in Kinzey 1981). Total daily activity lasts an average of 11.5 hours with feeding averaging around 2.7 hours per day (Kinzey 1978).

Sleeping sites are typically in vine tangles located on small branches which are at least about 15 meters (49.2 ft) above the ground. Sites are sometimes reused from night to night and are always more than 100 meters (328.1 ft) from the edge of the home range (Kinzey 1981; Wright 1995). During sleeping, group members are close to one another, within one meter (Mason 1968). In addition, during rest and sleeping, titis will huddle together and entwine their tails in a characteristic fashion (tail twinning) (Mason 1968; Robinson 1979a; Kinzey 1997).

Dusky titi

Typical day range can vary between 425 m (1394.4 ft) and 1152 m (3779.5 ft), but usually averages towards the lower end of that range (Mason 1968; Kinzey 1981; Wright 1985; 1989; Polanco-Ochoa & Cadena 1993). However, due to weather and exceptional circumstances, the day range can be significantly shorter or longer, having been observed as low as 150 m (492.1 ft) and as high as 1450 m (4757.2 ft) (Wright 1985). Home ranges are also variable but generally small, varying between less than .005 km² (.002 mi²) up to .14 km² (.05 mi²) (Mason 1968; Kinzey 1978; Terborgh 1983; Polanco-Ochoa & Cadena 1993; Carrillo-Bilbao et al. 2005; Lawrence 2007). However, some estimates place the home range somewhat higher, between .1 km² (.04 mi²) and .2 km² (.08 mi²) (Izawa & Yoneda 1981). In the dry season, when less fruit is available to titis, the daily path is reduced by up to two-thirds to conserve energy (Patricia Wright cited in Terborgh 1985).

Titi monkeys can live in the same habitats as a number of other primates including marmosets (Callithrix sp.), tamarins (Saguinus sp.), squirrel monkeys (Saimiri sp.), saki monkeys (Pithecia sp.), capuchins (Cebus sp.), owl monkeys (Aotus sp.), howler monkeys (Alouatta sp.), woolly monkeys (Lagothrix sp.), and spider monkeys (Ateles sp.) (Wright 1988; Youlatos 1999). Larger sympatric species will chase the smaller titis from food sources, including larger fruit trees (Wright 1996). Titis coexist with other sympatric species as is the case with C. moloch ranging with S. fuscicollis due to differential habitat utilization and diet (Crandlemire-Sacco 1988). Nevertheless, if possible, titi monkeys will avoid all other primates (Wright 1985).

The most important predators of titi monkeys are raptors. Several different sizes and species of raptors are capable of and have been observed attacking a titi, including the Guianan crested eagle (Morphnus guianensis) and the Ornate hawk-eagle (Spizaetus ornatus) (Terborgh 1983). Felids may also be a predator of the titi monkey, but arboreal mammals make up only a small and unimportant part of their diet and are only taken in exceptional circumstances (Emmons 1987). Arboreal snakes are also present in some titi habitats and may also be a predator (Wright 1985; Cisneros-Heredia 2007). Tufted capuchins (Cebus apella) have rarely been observed to predate titis. Sampaio & Ferrari (2005) observed a tufted capuchin killing and subsequently consuming an infant of C. moloch. In addition, Lawrence (2007) reported that a large female C. brunneus juvenile died after it had been attacked by tufted capuchins while feeding in the same tree. Titis avoid predators primarily through crypsis and hiding (Terborgh 1983).

Content last modified: December 19, 2007

Written by Kurt Gron. Reviewed by Gabriela de Luna.

Cite this page as:
Gron KJ. 2007 December 19. Primate Factsheets: Dusky titi (Callicebus moloch) Taxonomy, Morphology, & Ecology . <http://pin.primate.wisc.edu/factsheets/entry/dusky_titi/taxon>. Accessed 2020 July 3

This sheet covers all species in the Callicebus moloch, Callicebus cupreus and Callicebus donacophilus groups


The titi monkeys are a monogamous species that presumably mate for life and live in groups of two to seven individuals consisting of a pair of adults and their offspring (Wright 1984a; Mason & Mendoza 1993; Kinzey 1997; Bossuyt 2002). However, groups with several resident adult males are known (Bicca-Marques et al. 2002). A dominance hierarchy between adults is not observed (Kinzey 1981; Kinzey 1997). Dispersal from the natal group occurs between two and four years of age with females dispersing somewhat earlier than males (Wright 1985; Bossuyt 2002). No overt pressure to disperse is exhibited by other group members (Bossuyt 2002).

Dusky titi

Adult monogamous pairs are very close emotionally to one another, coordinating their activities to a high degree and remaining within close proximity (Mason 1966; Cubicciotti & Mason 1978; Anzenberger et al. 1986; Mendoza et al. 2002). In addition to coordination of activities, the pair will frequently huddle, intertwine tails, groom and hold hands. Also, they will foot grasp, lip-smack, nuzzle, gently grasp one another and sit pressed together in addition to agonistically responding to strangers (Mason 1966; Mason 1968; Anzenberger et al. 1986; Fernandez-Duque et al. 1997). An indicator of the strength and importance of the bond between the mating pair is the significant distress and agitation they exhibit when they are separated (Mendoza & Mason 1986). In captivity, when an interloper approaches the mate of a male, the male will show a marked increase in attraction to its mate and will act agonistically toward the intruder. Females show the opposite trend, with an increase in attraction to her counterpart when intruders are farthest away. Females tend to tolerate intruder females while males display “jealousy” behavior toward non-group adult males (Cubicciotti & Mason 1978). In addition, males tend to respond to and react to changes in social conditions faster and to a greater degree than females and often place themselves between a stranger and the mate (Anzenberger et al. 1986; Fernandez-Duque et al. 2000).

Titis are cautious in the face of new situations, and approach the unfamiliar slowly and tentatively. This behavior is probably a result of their small and exclusive home ranges without conspecific competitors (Visalberghi & Mason 1983; Mendoza et al. 2002).

Titis perform a characteristic bout of vocalizations at the outer boundary of their relatively small range to define and reinforce the boundaries between their home range and that of other titi groups (Robinson 1977; 1979; Mason & Mendoza 1993; Lawrence 2007). Shortly after awakening in the morning, titi groups move to the periphery of their home range and the adults start calling (Robinson 1977). Vocalizations are traded between groups at the boundary for a time as well as jump displays, long stiff-legged jumps and other, often noisy displays (Mason 1966; Robinson 1979a). When confronting another group, titis may also display piloerection, tail-lashing, sustained calling, and chasing (Mason 1966; Mason & Mendoza 1993). Chasing of individuals from other groups is uncommon and after the exchange between groups, contact is broken off and groups spend the rest of their day away from the outer boundary of the home range (Robinson 1979a).

In captivity, social play occurs only between adult and sub-adult group members and juveniles, never between the two adults in the group. Grooming occurs throughout the day, especially during periods of group rest (Kinzey 1981). The mating pair prefers to groom one another than any other group members and infants prefer to groom the father (Welker et al. 1998b). Affiliative behaviors include close proximity, huddling, grooming, and tail twining. Agonistic behaviors include arching displays, tail lashing, “moaning” and duetting (Anzenberger et al. 1986). In the wild during the dry season, playing, intergroup fighting and calling are reduced (Wright 1989). Either sex of the mating pair can lead the group’s movement over the course of the day (Mason 1966).


Dusky titi

In captivity, the monogamous titi monkey gives birth around one year after pairing with a new mate (Valeggia et al. 1999). Females are physically capable of reproduction as early as two years old; however, if remaining with their natal group past that age, they cannot reproduce (Welker et al. 1998; Valeggia et al. 1999). In captivity, the mean age at first birth around 4 years of age (Welker et al. 1998; Valeggia et al. 1999). Females can reproduce as old as 18 years and males up to 22 years old (Welker et al. 1998). The interbirth interval in both the wild and in captivity averages around one year (Wright 1985; Valeggia et al. 1999). Mating by a female with a male of another group has been observed in the wild during the early morning boundary confrontation but mating of this type is uncommon (Mason 1966; Lawrence 2007). Solicitation of the female by the male includes manipulating, smelling, or licking the female’s genitals and attempting to mount her (Mason 1966). There is evidence of the possible presence of seasonality in births in both captivity and the wild which implies a mating season. In captivity, births can occur year round (Mason 1966; Valeggia et al. 1999). In the wild a birth peak is observed just prior to the rainy season, but no discrete breeding season is observed (Wright 1984a). The birth of twins is uncommon but possible and has been observed in the wild (Knogge & Heymann 1995). The gestation period of captive titi monkeys has been estimated at around 128 days (4.2 months) with an average ovarian cycle of female titi monkeys lasting around 17 days (.56 months) (Jantschke et al. 1995; Valeggia et al. 1999). Female titis do not menstruate nor do they exhibit sexual swelling (Valeggia et al. 1999).


Perhaps the most important aspect of titi monkey parenting is the high level of involvement and importance of the father and his role as predominant carrier and protector of the infant (Fragaszy et al. 1982; Wright 1984a; Mendoza & Mason 1986a; Mason & Mendoza 1993). In the wild, infants are exclusively carried by the male except during grooming and nursing by the mother (Mason 1966; unpublished data cited in Tirado Herrera & Heymann 2004). In captivity, infants are found the majority of the time in contact with the father and interaction with the mother is best described as infrequent (Fragaszy et al. 1982). Starting in the first week of life, the father becomes the predominant carrier of the infant and the mother only carries the infant for 20% the first week postpartum. The role of carrier is fully assumed by the father within several weeks of birth (Mendoza & Mason 1986a). Little care is provided the infant by siblings and even contact with them in the first three months is limited (Fragaszy et al. 1982; Mendoza & Mason 1986a). There is some indication that the curiosity of siblings about the infant is stronger than their desire to carry the neonate although they have been seen carrying their infant sibling (Meritt 1980). The more experienced the mother, the less interaction she has with the infant, and often the only carrying they participate in is related to suckling. Over half of the time spent by the infant with the mother is spent suckling (Meritt 1980). To allow the infant access to the nipple, the mother will raise her arm in a characteristic suckling posture (Fragaszy et al. 1982; Mason & Mendoza 1993). The father will transport the infant to the mother to suckle and either parent will jump to the ground to rescue an infant that has fallen (Jantschke et al. 1995). After the infant is one month old, maternal contact is mostly limited to brief nursing contact and she is only tolerant of the infant for short periods of time (Mendoza & Mason 1986b). The strength of attachment of the infant with its father is indicated by the higher levels of stress experienced by an infant upon separation from its father than when separated from its mother (Hoffman et al. 1995). However, it is important to note that exceptions do exist to the aforementioned pattern of male-focused care and in some cases the female has been observed caring for the infant as much as the male (Mason & Mendoza 1993). Interestingly, the parents appear to be more attached to one another than to their infant (Mendoza & Mason 1986).

Dusky titi

At birth, the captive infant weight averages between .075 kg (.17 lb) and .1 kg (.22 lb) which is about ten percent of the weight of the mother (Fragaszy et al. 1982; Jantschke et al. 1995). Birth occurs in captivity during the night but the only observed wild titi birth occurred during the day, during a group resting period (Meritt 1980; Ruíz et al. 2004). At birth, the neonate is covered with short, dense and fine hair (Meritt 1980). Newborn infants will cling ventrally to the neck of the carrier and after the first few weeks will move to a more dorsal carrying position, usually riding across the shoulders (Fragaszy et al. 1982; Mason & Mendoza 1993). Transfer from one carrier to another is characterized by one individual sitting next to the other and the infant climbing between them (Fragaszy et al. 1982). Captive group contact with the infant is observed from the day of birth and includes inspection, nuzzling, and grooming (Fragaszy et al. 1982).

In captivity, infants start spending more than half of their time alone at an age of about 2 months and independent movement starts at this time (Fragaszy et al. 1982; Jantschke et al. 1995). By the third or fourth month, running and leaping are seen (Fragaszy et al. 1982). By around the 29th day of life, the infant’s ears will unfold and by day 37 of life, the infant’s pelage is comparable to that of the adults (Merrit 1980). In the fourth week of life the infant will first explore independently, but remaining quite close to the father and not traveling independently (Wright 1984b). Water is first imbibed around day 69 and solid food is first consumed at day 76 (Merrit 1980). By the 15th week of life, social play between the infant and juvenile commences and may include chasing, batting, and gentle biting, and occasionally the father may also play with the infant. Between 4 and 5 months of age, the infant starts displaying adult-type interactions with other group members and will start sitting next to, as opposed to on, them (Fragaszy et al. 1982). Also around four months old, infants will only be carried by the father during leaping or when in danger (Wright 1984a). Carrying by other group members persists into the 6th month of life (Jantschke et al. 1995). Active discouragement of suckling by the infant by the mother is frequent in the fourth to fifth month of life and captive weaning in titis is complete by 12-16 weeks of age (Meritt 1980; Fragaszy et al. 1982). The mother typically will not share food with the infant while the father will often do so (Wright 1984b). Once dispersed from the natal group, the juvenile faces potential aggression if it returns (Mayeaux et al. 2002).


Titi communication has been studied both in captivity and in the wild. Their characteristic complex vocal behavior has been well documented (e.g. Moynihan 1966; Robinson 1977; 1979b; Müller 1995; Müller & Anzenberger 2002) and has been said to represent, “the maximum elaboration and complexity which can be attained by a species specific…language” (Moynihan 1966:125). Their large repertory of vocalizations can be broadly classified into two types; high-pitched quiet calls and low-pitched loud calls (Robinson 1977; 1979b). Most loud and quiet vocalizations are repeated to form phrases and combined into long or short sequences that are used in different contexts (Robinson 1979b).

Quiet, higher-pitched calls include “squeaks,” “whistles,” “trills,” “chirps,” “grunts,” “sneezes,” and distress calls uttered by infants (Robinson 1977). Higher-pitched calls are arranged along a continuum by type and are not necessarily completely distinct from one another at a discrete point (Moynihan 1966). Most of these calls are uttered when disturbed, both mildy and significantly. However, some quiet calls are elicited before and after group calling, while foraging, or when locating other individuals of the group (Moynihan 1966; Robinson 1977). Specifically, “chirps” occur while foraging (Robinson 1977; 1979). “Whistles”, “squeaks”, “sneezes”, and “trills” are presumably uttered in the context of violence or hostility, or in inter- and intra-group conflicts (Moynihan 1966; Robinson 1977). “Whistles” can also be heard during vigorous social grooming bouts, vigorous play wrestling, when females resist unwelcome copulation attempts, or when an individual is lost (Moynihan 1966).

Loud calls include “chirrups”, “moans”, “pants”, “honks”, “bellows”, “pumps”, and “screams”, and are both used in intra- and inter-group long range signaling. “Chirrups”, which have been suggested to contain information on the age and sex of the emitter, are produced in both hostile and non-hostile situations, such as locating and recognizing group members, and probably fosters group cohesion (Moynihan 1966; Robinson 1979b). “Moans” can be also heard in a combination of both hostile and non-hostile circumstances, including during copulation and in greeting or when sympatric primates pass through the titi’s immediate area (Moynihan 1966; Robinson 1979b). Tooth “gnashing” represents another form of audible communication, and while not vocal, is associated with “moan” vocalizations and is performed in many of the same circumstances (Moynihan 1966). Screams are uttered in the context of violence, conflict or hostility, as during fighting between young males (Robinson 1979).

Dusky titi

A key feature of the vocal communication of the titi monkey is the ritualized bout of morning calling and duetting which helps regulate the spacing of groups and their home ranges (Robinson 1981). Duets are long sequences of loud calls that include “chirrups”, “grunts”, “moans”, “pants”, “honks”, “bellows”, and “pumps.” Males start vocalizing “moans” which lead on to male “bellows” at the boundary of the group’s home range and if a neighboring group approaches, both the female and male will begin duetting in close proximity to one another (Robinson 1977; 1981; Müller & Anzenberger 2002). Their calls in the duets are not synchronous and both sexes are capable of producing the same types of vocalizations including both “bellows-and-pumping” and “pant-and-pumping” (Müller 1995; Müller & Anzenberger 2002). These calls also tend to provoke quick responses from other groups of titi monkeys and often begin with “moans” and quickly increase in intensity, lasting up to and longer than five minutes (Moynihan 1966; Mason 1966). After the confrontational duetting bouts between groups, a characteristic “gobbling” or “pumping” vocalization may be uttered and is echoed quickly by neighboring groups within earshot (Mason 1966).

Infants vocalize mostly when they are unaccompanied by a parent (Hoffman et al. 1995). Infants and young juveniles’ vocalizations may include “purrs” uttered when being carried by a non-parent to show discomfort (Moynihan 1966). Distress calls resemble a “buzz” and “chirps” are vocalized when rejected for carrying by a group member (Robinson 1977; Jantschke et al. 1995).


There are some indications of olfactory communication in the titi monkey as evidenced by chest-rubbing and social sniffing (Moynihan 1966; Kinzey 1981). Titis possess a gland on their sternum that they rub on branches by pressing their chest to the substrate and propelling themselves forward (Moynihan 1966; Mason 1966; 1968). Ostensibly, this deposits some substance on the branch to communicate some olfactory message. The titi also may rub its fist on its chest and in turn, rub its fist on a branch (Robinson personal communication cited in Kinzey 1981). While the depositing monkey may smell his deposited scent, conspecifics have not been seen responding to possible markings left in this manner (Mason 1968). The other form of potential olfactory communication involves the sniffing of others, often of the genital region (Moynihan 1966).

Most of the titi visual signals are produced in hostile or agonistic circumstances (Moynihan 1966). The visual signal repertoire of the titi includes “swaying,” “looking-away,” “head-down,” “displacement-scratch,” “head & body shake,” “eye-closing,” “protruding-lips,” “baring-the-teeth,” “arch-posture,” “tail-raising,” “tail-lashing,” and “pilo-erection” (Moynihan 1966; Mason 1968). Mouth-to-mouth contact between adults and infants and between adults is seen possibly as a greeting or appeasement gesture (Fragaszy 1976; Fragaszy et al. 1982). Another captive behavior that may have a visually communicative purpose is that of the “general shakes” in which adults will shake its entire body and head upon the approach of humans (Moynihan 1966).

Content last modified: December 19, 2007

Written by Kurt Gron. Reviewed by Gabriela de Luna.

Cite this page as:
Gron KJ. 2007 December 19. Primate Factsheets: Dusky titi (Callicebus moloch) Behavior . <http://pin.primate.wisc.edu/factsheets/entry/dusky_titi/behav>. Accessed 2020 July 30.

This sheet covers all species in the Callicebus moloch, Callicebus cupreus and Callicebus donacophilus groups.


For individual primate species conservation status, please search the IUCN Red List.
Also search the current scientific literature for primate conservation status (overall as well as for individual species), and visit CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora).

Conservation information last updated in 2007 follows, for comparison:


Dusky titi

Threat: Human-Induced Habitat Loss and Degradation

As with other neotropical primates, deforestation and loss of habitat are profound threats to the survival of the titi monkey. In Brazil, the government’s plan to pave, improve, and construct over 6000 km of roads will likely exacerbate deforestation by facilitating logging and forest fires, and moving many more people and potentially destructive activities into formerly remote areas (Nepstad et al. 2001). This pattern follows elsewhere in the titi range, where highway building or improvement in Bolivia, Peru and Brazil alike have also caused or have the potential to cause increased destruction of habitat (van Roosmalen et al. 2002; Mark 2003; Felton et al. 2006; Wallace et al. 2006). In Paraguay, deforestation is again the largest threat to endemic primates (Stallings 1985).

Deforestation due to agriculture poses a significant threat to titis, especially rice growing, which is typically undertaken near rivers and streams; habitats used by titis (Mark 2003). In Colombia, illegal coca farms are quite widespread and numerous, often located within titi habitats. While some efforts have been targeted at eliminating such illegal farms, these have lead to hostility with farmers, confounding conservation. Spraying to kill coca has also harmed the natural habitats near the farms (Defler et al. 2003). Coffee plantations utilize slash-and-burn clearing techniques and can completely destroy the forest habitats of titis. In addition, wood is the preferred building and fuel source, so even where fragmented forests remain, they are under threat of destruction to those ends (DeLuycker 2006). Governmental farming expansion programs and road expansion also threaten titis by encouraging human immigration to areas near titi habitats and result in a transition from traditional land use to more intensive agriculture and different settlement patterns which increase deforestation (Rengifo Ruiz 1994 cited in DeLuycker 2006; Rowe & Martinez 2003; DeLuycker 2006).

Sometimes, titi habitats are fragmented and surrounded by grazing lands. The results of this are mixed in relation to conservation however, as ranchers sometimes prevent hunting on their lands and it appears that titis are adaptable and are able to travel on the ground between forest fragments (Felton et al. 2006). In addition, some evidence points to the ability of some titis to thrive in disturbed habitats near human activities (van Roosmalen et al. 2002). This is not to say that fragmentation is not dangerous however, as fragmentation can prevent the establishment of new territories and reproductive opportunities by titis (DeLuycker 2006).

Petroleum prospecting and extraction in addition to other infrastructure development also threaten titi populations in formerly untouched areas as do potential hydroelectric projects (Defler et al. 2003; Rowe & Martinez 2003; Marsh 2004; Felton et al. 2006; Wallace et al. 2006).

It has been suggested that the creation of forest corridors connecting isolated forest remnants would be an effective means by which to help ensure the survival of titis (DeLuycker 2006). Conservation should also focus on the protection of populations in such fragments (Mark 2003). In addition, governmental reward systems designed to promote forest conservation and the establishment of such corridors would be a step in the right direction for titi conservation (DeLuycker 2006). It is estimated that to sustain a viable population of titis, a contiguous area of at a minimum 81 km² (31.3 mi²) is required (Stallings 1985). In some cases it is hard to enforce protective legislation however, due to civil unrest, drug activity, and insurgents, as is the case in some areas of Colombia (Defler et al. 2003).

Threat: Harvesting (hunting/gathering)

Hunting is also a threat to titis, mostly for subsistence (Rowe & Martinez 2003). Often the take by indigenous populations is quite low and not a serious threat, as in Paraguay (Stallings 1985). However, the threat from over-hunting remains and hunting pressure on titis in some areas is quite intense (Rowe & Martinez 2003). Indeed, some populations have become extinct as a result of unchecked hunting (Felton et al. 2006).

Due to their small size, titis are also kept and commercially sold as pets, representing a potentially serious threat to their numbers (Kohlhaas 1988; Stallings 1985; Rowe & Martinez 2003). One captive family of titis captured in Peru was offered for sale at a price of less than $10 (Rowe & Martinez 2003).




Content last modified: December 19, 2007

Written by Kurt Gron. Reviewed by Gabriela de Luna.

Cite this page as:
Gron KJ. 2007 December 19. Primate Factsheets: Dusky titi (Callicebus moloch) Conservation . <http://pin.primate.wisc.edu/factsheets/entry/dusky_titi/cons>. Accessed 2020 July 30.

This sheet covers all species in the Callicebus moloch, Callicebus cupreus and Callicebus donacophilus groups

The following references were used in the writing of this factsheet. To find current references for Callicebus, search PrimateLit.


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Dusky titi

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Content last modified: December 19, 2007

This sheet covers all species in the Callicebus moloch, Callicebus cupreus and Callicebus donacophilus groups



Callicebus bernhardi
Photo: Carlos Yamashita
Callicebus bernhardi
Photo: Carlos Yamashita

Callicebus brunneus
Photo: Kevin Schafer
Callicebus brunneus
Photo: Kevin Schafer
Callicebus brunneus
Photo: Kevin Schafer
Callicebus brunneus
Photo: Luiz Claudio Marigo

Callicebus cupreus
Photo: California NPRC
Callicebus cupreus
Photo: Gustl Anzenberger
Callicebus cupreus
Photo: Gustl Anzenberger

Callicebus discolor
Photo: DiFiore & Fernandez-Duque

Callicebus donacophilus
Photo: A.M. Stevens
Callicebus donacophilus
Photo: R. Cabello
Callicebus donacophilus
Photo: Sean Flannery

Callicebus moloch
Photo: Luiz Claudio Marigo

Callicebus ornatus
Photo: Gustl Anzenberger
Callicebus ornatus
Photo: John Robinson

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