Marmosets and Humans

Humans Viewed as a Threat

Humans Viewed as a Positive Part of the Environment

  • Marmosets that have got used to you, and view you as a neutral or positive presence, will display: relaxed calm locomotion, carry out positive behaviours such as allogrooming, resting and play, and will be relatively silent (apart from the quiet whirr call) while you are around them
  • Bear in mind that a change of clothing, footwear or perfume may mean that the marmosets do not recognise you and may respond, as they did before habituating to you

Recognising Individual Marmosets

  • Naming and being able to identify each marmoset helps in getting to know your marmosets as individuals
  • Each marmoset has their own character and ways of behaving
  • Individuals can be identified by facial markings and characteristics, size differences and coat markings
  • Methods for temporary identification marking include:
    non-irritant hair dyes and fur clipping on the tail

Getting Marmosets Used to You

  • Both marmosets and caregiver can benefit from developing a positive relationship
  • Captive marmosets need to be shown that humans are a benign part of their environment through ‘socialisation’
  • Socialisation allows the marmosets to become used to you being close to them, but avoid touching them with your hands: there is no evidence that marmosets enjoy being stroked
  • Human contact can in no way replace contact with other marmosets

Encouraging Approach

  • First step: encourage the marmosets to come closer to you by offering food
  • Rather than approach them, hold out the food and they will come to you. This puts them in control: giving them the choice to approach or retreat.
  • Food can be offered to them whilst still allowing them to maintain their distance using bamboo skewers.
  • Be patient, stay quiet and do not make sudden or unpredictable movement
  • Bolder marmosets will approach first whereas it may take longer for more nervy individuals

Human Lap

  • Human laps provide a soft warm place on which to sit and play

Important: to control spread of infection from humans to marmosets appropriate precautions should be taken - wear barrier gloves at all times. Avoid being in close contact if you have a respiratory infection or cold or at least wear a face mask. Marmosets may die if they come into contact with the cold sore virus (Herpes simplex). For further details see the EAZA Husbandry Guidelines – section 2.7.11, 2.7.12