When I see photographs of monkeys I think they’re at least the size of chimpanzees but this monkey, native to Panama and northern Colombia, is only the size of a squirrel.
Geoffroy’s tamarins (Saguinus geoffroyi) are small colorful members of the marmoset family with bodies only 9 inches long but tails up to 15 inches. They live together in family groups of three to five individuals, traveling through the trees to find their favorite foods of insects and fruit. The brave ones visit bird feeders.
Bird feeders in the tropics are different from ours at home. Pennsylvania birds are attracted to seeds, suet and mealworms but tropical birds eat fruit so Panamanians put bananas, mangoes and papaya in their feeders. This inevitably attracts the monkeys.
At Cerro Azul we met a homeowner who feeds Geoffroy’s tamarins in her backyard every day. If she isn’t quick to fill the feeders they whine at her from the trees, but they are shy and won’t come down unless she is alone.
We all stood far away and Donna Foyle took pictures while the homeowner stabbed fruit chunks with the tip of a knife to hand it to the monkeys. Later she handed fruit to them directly.
Squirrels are scarce in the Panamanian jungle. We saw only one in Panama and it was at the airport hotel. So Geoffroy’s tamarins fill the niche of squirrels at the bird feeders.
These “squirrels” have thumbs!
Read more here about Geoffroy’s tamarin and see a photo of one with a baby on its back.
(photos taken at Cerro Azul on 23 March 2018 by Donna Foyle)