All Creatures Great & Small – Finger Monkeys

Amazonian Rainforest, Monkey Island (Peru).
Image via Wikipedia

By P Chong                                                                                    Saturday, 8 October 2011

Human beings like to possess. With creatures great & small,

there’s no exception. In fact, for the rich & famous, keeping

an exotic zoo in the backyard is the thing. The more exotic the animals,

all the more they keep & treasure.

You’ll find a range of pets from the creepy crawly ones like snakes to fierce & ferocious creatures such as lions & tigers and to the very gigantic elephants.

What about a monkey as a pet? Not just any monkey but a tiny little “finger or pocket monkey”? These monkeys are just 14 inches tall & so cute! They’re called finger monkeys, a specie from the rain-forests of South America – Brazil, Peru, Bolivia, Ecuador and Colombia. They are also known as ‘Pocket Monkey’ and ‘Tiny Lion’. These primates belong to the family Callitrichidae, species Cebuella and genus C. pygmaea. ( – Pictures)

This cute little primate hugs and grips on to your finger so tight that it pulls your heartstrings, and you wish you could take it home with you.

The finger monkey is the tiniest living primate in the world. It’s so small that it can hold on to your finger.

Enjoy! If it wasn’t for the Internet, would you have ever seen 

or have known about these little creatures?


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These are the smallest monkeys in the world although there are some primates that are bit smaller (pygmy mouse lemurs and pygmy tarsiers). The body weight of adults in the wild averages only 4 ounces! You can see from the picture why they are often called “finger monkeys.” They are about 5 inches (13cm) tall, not including the tail. Which means they might be hard to observe in the wild as they’re tiny enough to be high-up in the trees on small branches. Up there, they have to be on the lookout for birds of prey. They are able to jump more than 16 ft or 5 m! Quite a distance for such a small monkey.

They inhabit the Amazon rain forest in Colombia, Ecuador, Bolivia, Peru and Brazil. They scramble about like squirrels in the deep rain forest and drink the sap of trees. Since they are so tiny they can climb very high up in the trees on slender branches to find untapped sources of food – the sap and gum of trees. Ever see gum arabic listed in the ingredients of food products? It is a commercially available exudate from acacia trees that these little monkeys are happy to eat straight without any mixers. They also like to eat grasshoppers and some other insects when available. They enjoy a view of the water and prefer forests that may have a riverfront view or else flood-plain. (

Male pygmy marmosets may make displays of strength and prowess when confronted by other males and competing for territory. They do this by raising and flattening their ear tufts, arching their backs, grimacing while eyeing each other and displaying their genitals. Females usually give birth to two and sometimes three babies.

These monkeys are not good pets as they do bite and throw faeces. In captivity they are not happy away from their families and are hard to care for.

If you are thinking of them as “Exotic Pets”, you must find a veterinarian able to treat a primate before you bring your pet monkey home. These veterinarians are not easy to find.


3 thoughts on “All Creatures Great & Small – Finger Monkeys

  1. Charles Christano

    Seeing is believing. Thanks Paul.
    But in my experience pictures can be manipulated too. What was not “there” can be inserted etc.
    So we can be surprised by many things. But I believe what you shared with us. Thanks.


  2. Hi Paul, I enjoyed browsing through your blog this morning. I have an unusual request. I’m a musician and working on making a video about the rainforest. I’m in the process of collecting photos from individuals about the rainforest to possibly include in this video. Would you be interested in sharing a few of your monkey pictures? Please email me if you would like to contribute.

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