Goeldi’s monkey


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Suborder: Haplorrhini
Infraorder: Simiiformes
Family: Cebidae
Subfamily: Callitrichinae
Genus: Callimico
Species: C. goeldii

Other names: callimico, Goeldi’s tamarin, Goeldi’s marmoset; Goeldis marmoset (Danish); Goelds tamarin (Dutch); Hyppytamariini (Finnish); tamarin de Goeldi, tamarin sauteur (French); springtamarin (German); callimico di Goeldi (Italian); chichilo negro, marimonito, mico-de-Goeldii, mono Goeldi, mono negro, pichico negro, Tití de Goeldi (Spanish); Goeldis apa, Goeldis tamarin, goeldisapa (Swedish).

Goeldi’s monkeys are a monotypic species, and are placed in their own genus Callimico (Groves 2005). For the sake of simplicity and due to their distinctiveness, Goeldi’s monkeys are referred to here simply as callimicos as per Warneke (1988).

Conservation status:  Vulnerable

Life span: >20 years (captive)
Total population: Unknown
Regions: Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Peru
Gestation: 5 months
Height: 21 to 31 cm (M & F)
Weight: 366 g (M), 355 g (F)


Goeldi's monkey
Callimico goeldii

Callimicos are small primates, outwardly similar to and reminiscent of tamarins in both size and shape (Hill 1959; Heltne et al. 1981). They are only a little larger than a squirrel (Jacobs 1984). The species can exhibit broad variation in pelage color, but only at very low levels within populations (Vasarhelyi 2000). In general, callimicos are usually various shades of black but can range from jet black to blackish brown or dark brown, to black with brown and grey, to having some reddish brown, silvery brown, or even some white on restricted areas of the body (Hill 1959; Hershkovitz 1977; Vasarhelyi 2000; Ankel-Simons 2007). Normally, when other colors or tints other than black are seen they are limited to the head, back, tail, limbs, and dorsal areas (Hershkovitz 1977). The fur is thick, soft, sleek and silky usually around 1-2 cm (0.4-0.8 in) long (Hill 1959; Heltne et al. 1981). In addition, there is a mane of longer hair around the neck which either partially or completely hides the ears and the hair on the crown of the head is plush and upright (Jacobs 1984; Defler 2004).

Unlike the other callitrichids, callimicos have three molars as opposed to two (Porter 2007). They have claws on almost all of their digits except the toilet claw or hallux (Pook 1978; Heltne et al. 1981; Ankel-Simons 2007). The skin around and on the face, cheeks and eyelids is dark, but the remainder of skin is a starkly contrasting white or pink color, albeit usually covered by the dark hair and invisible, except on the ventral region which is bare (Heltne et al. 1981). Callimicos have a pronounced sternal gland which potentially functions in olfactory communication (Hershkovitz 1977).

Wild callimico males weigh on average 366 g (12.0 oz) while females weigh 355 g (12.5 oz) (Encarnación & Heymann 1998). Captive examples weigh somewhat more than their wild counterparts (Vasarhelyi 2000). Body length is between 21 and 31 cm (8.3 and 12.2 in) with a tail that is somewhat longer than the head and body (Defler 2004). The tail is not prehensile (Ankel-Simons 2007).

In general, callimicos are arboreal, and usually found in the understory, below 10m (32.8 ft) off the ground (Pook & Pook 1981; Cameron et al. 1989; Christen 1994; Christen & Geissmann 1994; Garber & Rehg 1998; Porter 2004; Porter et al. 2007). Movement is usually limited to quadrupedal walking, bounding-hops, running, and leaping. Leaping and clinging in a vertical position often makes up a large percentage of the locomotor activity, with the animal moving from support to support in a vertical position (Pook & Pook 1981; Garber & Leigh 2001; Porter 2004; Ankel-Simons 2007). Quadrupedal movement occurs usually when the callimico is moving higher off the ground (Pook & Pook 1981). Vertical quadrupedal movement is also used, as is occasional terrestrial movement (Christen & Geissmann 1994).

Captive examples have lived into their early twenties (Weigl 2005).

Callimicos are included in their own genus due to their unique morphology and biology. The species possesses a third molar and have single offspring, like cebids, as opposed to the callitrichines of which it is a member. However, like the other callitrichines, callimicos possess claws and are similar in body size in addition to sharing some behavioral characteristics (Porter & Garber 2004; Porter 2007).


Callimico goeldii

Callimicos are found in Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, and Peru (Hershkovitz 1977). In general, the geographic range of callimicos is not well defined, partially owing to its low population densities and the resulting propensity to be overlooked in surveys (Porter 2000; 2007). Within its range, there are often large distances between callimico groups (Izawa 1979). In fact, the species is well known from only several locations, including the Pando region, Bolivia, the eastern Madre de Dios, Peru, and the southeastern areas of the Acre region, Brazil (Porter 2007). The northern limits of its distribution are in southern Colombia, as far north as the Río Caquetá and the southern limits are in northern Bolivia north of the Río Manuripi (Izawa 1979; Porter 2006; 2007). The eastern limits of their distribution are unknown, and in the west the species is limited by the Andean foothills (Hershkovitz 1977; Porter 2007).


Callimicos prefer primary forest with a dense understory and are found in this type of habitat the majority of the time (Christen 1994; Christen & Geissmann 1994; Porter 2004; 2007). Other types of habitat in which they are found include secondary, disturbed habitats and bamboo patches, primary forest with an open understory, swampy primary forest, shabby forest, scrub forest, areas of human subsistence cultivation which have reforested, treefalls and stream edge forest (Buchanan-Smith 1991; Christen 1994; 1999; Porter 2004; 2007; Porter et al. 2007; Rehg 2007). Between the seasons, use of habitat types varies, with habitats other than primary forests used somewhat more in the dry season and primary forest with dense understory used more in the wet season (Porter 2004; Porter et al. 2007). A mix of stream edge and bamboo habitat may be ideal for the species, as both of these contain callimico food items (Porter 2006). However, in areas where there is an abundance of secondary forest, it is the type of habitat is used most (Porter et al. 2007).

At one study site in the Department of Pando, Bolivia, the yearly rainfall total was 197 cm (77.6 in), mostly falling during the rainy season between October and May. There is a dry season between June and September. Average highs were around 30°C (86°F) with average lows around 21.3°C (70.3°F). Occasionally between May and September, cold fronts sometimes come into the region and temperatures can get as low as 13°C (55.4°F) (Porter 2007).


Callimicos eat arthropods (31%), fungus (29%), fruits (29%), unknown items (7%), nectar (3%) and exudates (1%) (Porter 2001b). In addition, they also eat some vertebrates, including frogs, toads, bird eggs, and lizards (Porter 2001b; Rehg 2003). Both jelly fungus (Auricularia) and bamboo fungus (Ascopolyporous) are consumed and fungi are very important to the species, a fact which is true of few primates and could be a strategy to avoid feeding competition (Porter 2001b; Hanson 2006). Of the arthropods, callimicos eat predominantly orthopterans, but also phasmida, scorpions, spiders, cicadas, mantids, cockroaches, moths, including larvae, pupae, and eggs (Porter 2001b).

Goeldi's monkey
Callimico goeldii

There is seasonal variation in food item consumption, with more fungus eaten between March and July during the dry season (Porter 2001b; Rehg 2003; Porter et al. 2007). Between May-July, fungus can comprise nearly half or more of the diet (Porter 2001b; Porter et al. 2007). Fruits are most important during the wet season, and can make up over half the diet in January and February and are eaten less during the dry season (Porter 2001b; Rehg 2003; Porter et al. 2007).

In general, callimicos spend most of their day resting, followed by feeding, foraging, traveling and engaged in other activities (Rehg 2003; Porter 2004). During one year-long study, callimicos spent their time resting (66%), traveling (17%), feeding (9%), foraging (6%) and in other activities (2%) (Porter 2004). Resting behaviors include mostly scanning, but also grooming, sitting, and investigating. Although in one study activity budgets changed little between seasons, another study of a different group in a different year did find significant differences (Porter 2004; Porter et al. 2007).

Callimicos have large average home ranges, with reported values from 0.3 to 1.5 km² (0.1 to 0.6 mi²) (Pook & Pook 1981; Porter 2001a; Porter et al. 2007; Rehg in press cited in Porter et al. 2007). This is in contrast to, and far larger than the home ranges of similarly sized sympatric primates, such as Saguinus, with callimico home ranges often overlapping with multiple troops of the same (Porter 2000; 2004). Daily path averages 925 m (3034.8 ft) (Porter et al. 2007).

Callimicos prefer to sleep in dense tangles of vegetation or leaves (Porter 2004).

Poly-specific groups are formed with red-bellied (Saguinus labiatus) and saddle-back tamarins (Saguinus fuscicollis) (Christen 1994; Porter 2001a; Porter & Garber 2004; Rehg 2006; Porter et al. 2007). Such associations, maintained by proximity or vocalization, are important to callimicos, and the species has been found in such associations more than half of the time (Porter 2001a; Rehg 2006; Porter et al. 2007). Inter-specific associations are more common in the wet season than during the dry season and Porter and Christen (Porter 2001a; Porter & Christen 2002) propose that the main purpose is to increase the productivity of fruit foraging, but also to allow the species to travel more safely in higher levels of the forest. Further, when in a mixed-species troop with other primates, callimicos travel further and expand the breadth of their diet (Porter & Garber 2007). Callimicos have also been seen to form associations with emperor tamarins (Saguinus imperator) (Azevedo Lopes & Rehg 2003).

Other primates with which callimicos can be sympatric include pygmy marmosets (Callithrix pygmaea), capuchins (Cebus albifrons, C. apella), squirrel monkeys (Saimiri boliviensis), titi monkeys (Callicebus brunneus, C. cupreus), red howler monkeys (Alouatta sara), owl monkey (Aotus nigriceps), and sakis (Pithecia irrorata) (Rehg 2006; Porter 2007).

Potential predators include carnivores including the bush dog (Speothos vanaticus), coati (Nasua nasua), tayra (Eira barbara), and puma (Puma concolor). Potential avian predators include hawks (Accipiter bicolor, Asturina nitida, Buteo mangirostris), eagles (Morphnus guianensis), falcons (Micrastur ruficollis) and owls (Lophostrix cristata). Snakes may also pose a threat (Rehg 2003; 2006). The callimico tendency to remain in the understory likely reduces the threat posed by avian predators and poly-specific associations also serve to lessen predation risk (Porter 2001a; Porter & Garber 2004). Unlike other neotropical primates who flee to higher levels when disturbed or threatened, callimicos will quickly descend to lower levels of the understory and hide (Pook & Pook 1981; Christen 1994).

Content last modified: August 26, 2008

Written by Kurt Gron. Reviewed by Leila Porter.

Cite this page as:
Gron KJ. 2008 August 26. Primate Factsheets: Goeldi’s monkey (Callimico goeldii) Taxonomy, Morphology, & Ecology . <http://pin.primate.wisc.edu/factsheets/entry/goeldi’s_monkey/taxon>. Accessed 2020 July 29.


The social system of callimicos is not uniform and can be different between groups even within a specific population (Porter & Christen 2002). Observed group sizes are also variable, ranging between 2-12 individuals, usually consisting of adults, including sometimes more than one of each sex, and immature individuals (Izawa & Yoneda 1981; Masataka 1981; Pook & Pook 1981; 1982; Buchanan-Smith 1991; Christen & Geissmann 1994; Christen 1998; Encarnación & Heymann 1998; Christen 1999; Porter 2000; see Porter 2006; Rehg 2007). In captivity, groups with more than one breeding female do not last long and are typically ended by aggression between females (Carroll 1988).

Goeldi's monkey
Callimico goeldii

Group cohesion is strong, with the group remaining within 15m (49.2 ft) of each other most of the time (Pook & Pook 1981). However, in captivity, time spent very close to one another is low (Omedes & Carroll 1980). Inter-group encounters are rare in the wild, possibly reflecting a lack of range defense, but when then do occur, chasing and vocalization are seen, but rarely result in physical injuries (Porter 2001c; Rehg 2003; Porter 2007; Porter et al. 2007).

Grooming, both self and allogrooming, occurs often during group rest periods (Pook & Pook 1981). In general, males groom less than females (Masataka 1981). In captivity, most grooming occurs between the mating pair (Laurin et al. 1994).

Emigration occurs from the natal group if no suitable, non-parent mate is present (Porter et al. 2001).

In captivity, agonism is shown by the arched bristle leap, a behavior where the animal piloerects and jumps between supports, arching its back and vocalizing. Males perform this behavior more than females. However, aggressive behavior between a breeding pair is uncommon in captivity (Carroll 1985). Tail piloerection indicates stress in captive callimicos (Dettling et al. 1998).


It is estimated that in roughly one in three callimico groups are polygynous, with the rest consisting of monogamous pairs (Masataka 1981; Carroll 1988; Christen 1998; Encarnación & Heymann 1998; Porter 2007). Polyandrous groups have also been observed (Porter & Garber 2004; 2005).

Captive females reach sexual maturity at 57 weeks of age and males are reproductively fertile at 15-16 months of age (Pryce & Dettling 1995; Dettling & Pryce 1999). However, female sexual behavior in captivity has been seen as young as 8.5 months of age and male sexual behavior as young as 5 months (Lorenz 1972). The typical ovarian cycle in captivity is around 24 days, and the species shows no morphological indicators of reproductive condition (Lorenz 1972; Carroll et al. 1990; Carroll 1994; Dettling 2002). Callimicos ovulate postpartum while lactating resulting in a high conception rate (Ziegler et al. 1989). In captivity, the interbirth interval is around 6 months (Carroll 1982; Welker & Klaiber 1996).

Goeldi's monkey
Callimico goeldii

There may be two birth seasons per year in the wild, although in some years there is only one birth season (Masataka 1981; Porter 2007). Gestation averages around five months, and females can get pregnant twice in the same year (Lorenz 1972; Masataka 1981; Beck et al. 1982; Carroll 1994; Pryce & Dettling 1995; Porter 2007).

A presumable solicitation posture consists of the female standing bipedally with her chest in the face of a male. Presenting consists of the female standing facing away from the male in a quadrupedal stance and looking back over her shoulder at him (Carroll 1985). In captivity, tongue-flicking also solicits copulation. Actual copulation is dorso-ventral, with self-grooming taking place post-copulation (Lorenz 1972). In the wild, copulation is short in duration (Porter 2000).


In the wild and in captivity, callimicos give birth to singletons with short black hair and a bare ventrum (Pook 1975; Beck et al. 1982; Jacobs 1984; Schradin & Anzenberger 2001; Porter 2007). While extremely rare, twinning has been seen in captivity (Altmann et al. 1988). At birth, males weigh an average of 54.7 g (1.9 oz) while females average 53.3 g (1.9 oz) (data compiled by Smith & Leigh 1998). Captive weight at birth averages around 53-56 g (1.9-2.0 oz) (Altmann et al. 1988; Sodaro 2000).

In captivity and in the wild, the infant is carried exclusively by the mother for around the first two or three weeks of life after which other group members, especially the father begin to carry the infant (Heltne et al. 1973; Pook 1975; Masataka 1981; Beck et al. 1982; Carroll 1994; Jurke & Pryce 1994; Anderson 1997; Schradin & Anzenberger 2001; Dettling 2002). In captivity, while fathers and various non-parental group members start helping to carry infants after that time, the mother remains the primary carrier throughout infancy (Schradin & Anzenberger 2001). In the wild, the first transfer of the infant from the mother occurs earlier (as early as 4 days old) and over the course of the first two or three months of life, various group members will carry the infant (Porter 2001c; Porter & Garber 2004; Porter 2007). In the wild, all group members help care for the infant (Porter 2007). However, wild infants will only first start to venture off their carriers when forced by their parents (Porter 2007). The transfer to the father for carrying partially reflects increasing maternal aggression towards the infant which steadily increases between the second and fifth weeks of age (Heltne et al. 1973; Jurke & Pryce 1994; Jurke et al. 1995). Carrying is usually diagonally across the shoulders of the mother although in the first weeks of life ventral carrying is also seen (Heltne et al. 1973; Pook 1975). In the wild, for the first two months of life, infants are only carried by adults and during the first month of life are carried almost all of the time (Porter 2001c). In wild polyandrous groups, more than one male will care for the infant of a female with which several males have mated (Porter & Garber 2004).

Goeldi's monkey
Callimico goeldii

In captivity, the infant is first seen off of carriers at around 5 weeks of age and also starts eating solid food around this time (Jurke & Pryce 1994; Dettling 2002). Wild parents start sharing adult foods with infants starting at 26 days old (Porter 2001c; 2007). In the wild, infants start to willingly leave carriers on their own at 2.5 months old (Porter 2001c). In captivity, allogrooming starts at an average of 81 days, piloerection displays at 113 days, and genital rubbing is first seen at 103 days on average (Beck et al. 1982). Social play starts around 68 days old in captivity (Anderson 1997). At around 8 to 9 weeks of age, the infants are not carried anymore (Dettling 2002). In the wild, locomotor independence is achieved around 3 months of age (Porter & Garber 2004). Over the first six weeks of captive life, nursing time steadily decreases and by 16 weeks old, infants are fully weaned (Carroll 1982; Jurke et al. 1995). Between 6 and 12 months of age in captivity, the infant molts (Beck et al. 1982; Carroll 1982).

The most common infant-specific vocalization is a whistle-like call which they emit until they are three months old. Other types of infant calls include higher-pitched calls, “hoe hoe” contact calls, click sounds, and calls reflecting excitement, tense situations, maternal rejection, aggression, play, and other situations. Further, as infant behavioral development progresses, new call types enter the infant’s repertoire while others exit (see Masataka 1982).


The callimico vocal canon consists of 40 discrete vocalizations in the wild (Masataka 1982). Calls can be divided up into several general types, including long-distance location calls, long-distance contact calls, short-distance contact calls, alarm calls, warning calls, short-distance location calls, and agonistic calls (Masataka 1982). Many calls grade into one another and are not immediately discrete and distinguishable (Pook & Pook 1981). Long-distance location calls are usually heard when individuals are more than 20 m (65.6 ft) from another. Long-distance contact calls function to maintain contact between spatially dispersed individuals. In the presence of a predator or potential threat, alarm or warning calls are given. Short-distance contact calls function to keep contact with individuals within 10 m (32.8 ft), and often causes individuals to move toward one another. Short-distance location calls are very frequently heard, with calls distinguishable to individual, and are commonly heard during feeding and group movement. There are various levels of agonistic call, given in differing degrees of aggressive behavior (Masataka 1982).

Callimico contact calls also function inter-specifically such that the calls of other primate species, especially those with which associations are formed, are responded to by callimicos and vice versa and help in the formation of such groups (Porter 2001a). Captive experiments also indicate that the same is true for threat calls and alarm calls (Masataka 1986).

In the wild, aggression is signaled by an arched posture, and also by a mouth-open facial expression and arch bristle leaps (Omedes & Carroll 1980; Masataka 1981; 1982; Porter et al. 2001). The arch bristle leap display consists of the callimico jumping from support to support with its hair erected (Omedes & Carroll 1980). Piloerection of the hairs of the body is also considered a threat display while piloerection of the tail may indicate stress in captive animals (Masataka 1982; Dettling et al. 1998). Flicking of the tongue signals appeasement (Lorenz 1972).

There are several potential types of olfactory communication seen in callimicos. In captivity, sternal scent-marking has been seen (Omedes & Carroll 1980). In the wild and in captivity, tail-anointing (or tail-marking) occurs, in which the tail is moistened by urinating upon it and/or rubbing it on the scent glands and the ano-genital region, torso, and chest (Wojcik & Heltne 1976; Omedes & Carroll 1980; Pook & Pook 1981).

Content last modified: August 26, 2008

Written by Kurt Gron. Reviewed by Leila Porter.

Cite this page as:
Gron KJ. 2008 August 26. Primate Factsheets: Goeldi’s monkey (Callimico goeldii) Behavior . <http://pin.primate.wisc.edu/factsheets/entry/goeldi’s_monkey/behav>. Accessed 2020 July 29.


CITES: Appendix I (What is CITES?)
IUCN Red List: C. goeldii: VU (What is Red List?)
Key: VU = Vulnerable
(Click on species name to see IUCN Red List entry, including detailed status assessment information.)

Goeldi's monkey
Callimico goeldii

The main problem with assessing the conservation status of callimicos is the limited available information on the distribution, ecology and population density of the species (Porter 2007). In many cases, conservation measures cannot be enacted until the exact locations of populations of callimicos are defined, a problem confounded by low population densities which causes the species to be sometimes overlooked in surveys (Defler et al. 2003; Porter 2000; 2007). These low densities and the rarity of the species also put callimicos at higher risk than more common primate species (Porter 2000).

It is clear in some areas that populations have disappeared because of human actions (Christen 1999). Threats can only increase with human population growth, especially in habitats in Bolivia, where health care and immigration are fueling rapid human population growth (Porter 2007).


Threat: Human-Induced Habitat Loss and Degradation

Logging threatens callimicos. This is especially true in the department of Pando, Bolivia, where not only is commercial logging of mahogany and roble trees degrading forest, but also where the construction of logging roads has sped human settlement of and ranching activity in the area (Porter 2000). However, since callimicos can live in degraded forest, they are able to cope with some disturbance, as long as the forest is not clear-cut (Defler 1989). In fact, degraded habitats provide important resources for the species (Rehg 2007). Much logging is selective and leaves the majority of the forest still standing (Porter 2007). However, government economic development, resettlement, and road building programs can exacerbate the loss and degradation of callimico habitats (Pook & Pook 1979; Cameron & Buchanan-Smith 1991-1992).

Ranching has the potential to affect callimico habitats more profoundly, through clear-cutting the forest (Porter 2007).

Threat: Harvesting (hunting/gathering)

In general, callitrichines such as callimicos are not usually hunted, partially owing to their diminutive size (Defler 1989; Porter 2006). However, owing to their low population densities and large home ranges, even if small numbers are trapped, large areas of occurrence have the potential to be affected (Pook & Pook 1979). Also, in some areas of Bolivia, callimicos are eaten and are supposedly desired by non-local individuals (Christen & Geissmann 1994).





Content last modified: August 26, 2008

Written by Kurt Gron. Reviewed by Leila Porter.

Cite this page as:
Gron KJ. 2008 August 26. Primate Factsheets: Goeldi’s monkey (Callimico goeldii) Conservation . <http://pin.primate.wisc.edu/factsheets/entry/goeldi’s_monkey/cons>. Accessed 2020 July 29.

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


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Content last modified: August 26, 2008


Callimico goeldii
Photo: Anita Yantz
Callimico goeldii
Photo: Anita Yantz
Callimico goeldii
Photo: Anita Yantz
Callimico goeldii
Photo: Anita Yantz
Callimico goeldii
Photo: Anita Yantz
Callimico goeldii
Photo: Anita Yantz
Callimico goeldii
Photo: Edilio Nacimento Becerra
Callimico goeldii
Photo: James & Suzanne Hampton
Callimico goeldii
Photo: Verena Behringer
Callimico goeldii
Photo: Verena Behringer
Callimico goeldii
Photo: Verena Behringer
Callimico goeldii
Photo: Verena Behringer


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