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Common marmoset
Callithrix jacchus

View a family of common marmosets live via The Callicam!


CITES: Appendix II (What is CITES?)
IUCN Red List: C. jacchus: LC (What is Red List?)
Key: LC = Least concern
(Click on species name to see IUCN Red List entry, including detailed status assessment information.)

Callithrix jacchus
Photo: David Abbott

The common marmoset is abundant. Though they are not currently threatened in any parts of their range, common marmosets are losing habitat at an alarming rate, and land-use policy should reflect the need to protect these animals before they meet the fate of so many of their primate cousins.


Threat: Human-Induced Habitat Loss and Degradation

Unfortunately, the Brazilian cerrado region has suffered from conservation efforts focused on the rainforests of the Amazon in recent decades. Before 1950, the cerradão was thought to be economically useless because of its climate during the dry season, poor soils, frequent fires, and restricted access to populated areas of Brazil. As large-scale agribusiness ventures were driven out of the rainforest, the prospect of cheap land in the cerrado region coupled with technological improvements in farming and agriculture facilitated large scale conversion of this biome to cropland. By the 1990s at least 67% of the cerrado region was converted to intensive human use and current estimates calculate that up to 80% has been cleared for agriculture (Cavalcanti & Joly 2002). While marmosets are not currently threatened, a major part of their habitat is disappearing and it is unknown how populations will react if they must live in increasingly smaller patches of habitat, regardless of how well they succeed in edge habitats.

Threat: Invasive Alien Species

Common marmosets are susceptible to a number of parasites and pathogens, but none threaten their abundance. Some parasites that are problematic include lice, flies, and ticks, which can spread zoonotic diseases as they move between hosts, as well as acari, arthropods that parasitize the skin and hair follicles and lead to sarcoptic mange, a disease of the skin that causes lesions, hair loss, anorexia, and extreme weight loss (Rylands et al. 2001). Some pathogens that wild common marmosets are susceptible to include toxoplasmosis, herpesviruses, hepatitis, Salmonella, Shigella, Escheria coli, Streptococchus, Staphylococcus, Pnuemococchus, leptospirosis, and multiple fungal diseases (Rylands et al. 2001). Though these diseases are potentially life-threatening to individual animals or may affect a group of common marmosets, they are not a direct threat to the survival of the species at this time.

Threat: Harvesting (hunting/gathering)

Attractive as pets in South and Central America, common marmosets are often captured and sold in the pet trade (Rylands et al. 2001; Duarte-Quiroga & Estrada 2003). In Mexico City, a common marmoset can be purchased for about US$2000 (Durate-Quiroga & Estrada 2003). Once taken as pets, marmosets and other primates suffer from poor diet, exposure to foreign diseases, and inadequate husbandry. Moreover, once they age and become more destructive in their play patterns and less ideal as pets, monkeys are often abandoned or killed (Duarte-Quiroga & Estrada 2003). It is unknown how many common marmosets are kept as pets in private homes.

Threat: Human Disturbance

Common marmosets are also subject to forest fires in parts of their range. Historically, indigenous people set fire to the cerrado every three to five years to regenerate new growth and aid in agriculture practices (de Castro & Kauffman 1998).


The use of common marmosets in biomedical research has been prevalent in the United States and abroad since the 1960s. Because of their susceptibility to a large number of viral infections, taxonomical closeness to humans, large wild populations that could be harvested without threat, high reproductive rate, and small body size, marmosets were considered good candidates for captive studies and their use exploded in studies of teratology, periodontal disease, and reproduction (Rylands 1997). Export bans in Brazil necessitated the establishment of self-sustaining colonies in the early 1970s, and no common marmosets have been taken from the wild for use in biomedical research since 1974. Vigorous research on their behavior, husbandry, health, and breeding has helped maintain large captive populations in federally funded National Primate Research Centers, academic institutions, pharmaceutical companies, and commercial breeding facilities in the US and Europe (Rylands 1997). In Europe, common marmosets are even more widely used in research than in the US and are the most frequently used non-human primate in research laboratories (Abbott et al. 2003). Other areas of research in which marmoset models are indispensable include immunology, endocrinology, obesity, and aging (Abbott et al. 2003).





Content last modified: May 18, 2005

Written by Kristina Cawthon Lang. Reviewed by Toni Ziegler.

Cite this page as:
Cawthon Lang KA. 2005 May 18. Primate Factsheets: Common marmoset (Callithrix jacchus) Conservation . <>. Accessed 2014 April 17.