Goeldi's monkeys are small primates with shaggy black hair, claw-like nails and long tails. They inhabit areas of the Amazon rainforest across southern Colombia, eastern Ecuador and Peru, western Brazil and northern Bolivia.

Physical Description

Goeldi's monkeys are covered in shaggy, black hair, with lighter coloration around the face. They have claw-like nails on all of their digits, except for their large toes. These monkeys are the only species in their genus, Callimico. And although they are members of the callitrichidae family, which includes tamarins and marmosets, they have several characteristics that set them apart.

Goeldi's have three molars instead of two. They give birth to singletons rather than twins, and males take on less of a child-rearing role than marmoset or tamarin fathers. Goeldi's also have a larger range than other callitrichids and are the only primates known to eat mushrooms as a substantial (albeit seasonal) part of their diet.

These vertical climbers and leapers can reportedly leap a distance of about 13 feet (4 meters) horizontally without losing height. They can leap from one tree to another, turn in flight and grab their target, Goeldi's monkeys travel roughly 1.2 miles (2 kilometers) per day in a circular pattern and within a territory of about 740 to 1,975 acres (30 to 80 hectares).


The average height of a Goeldi's monkey is 8 to 9 inches (21 to 23 centimeters), not including its tail which is typically 10 to 13 inches (25 to 32 centimeters) long. 

Native Habitat

This species is found in southern Colombia, eastern Ecuador and Peru,  western Brazil and northern Bolivia. They inhabit areas of the Amazon rainforest with patchy canopy cover and strong undergrowth, such as mixed forest, scrub, second-growth woods, bamboo forests and forest with discontinuous canopies and well-developed scrub. They spend the majority of their time at levels less than 16.4 feet (5 meters) with forays to higher elevations for fruit.


Goeldi's monkeys have been known to live to the age of 21 in human care.


Goeldi's monkeys communicate through vocalizations, scent glands on the stomach, facial expressions and body language. Their vocalizations include long-distance cries that travel more than 328 feet (100 meters).

Food/Eating Habits

Their diet consists primarily of fruits, insects and small vertebrates. Groups will travel and feed in fruiting trees, but these monkeys also hunt individually, leaping to the ground to find small vertebrates. Unlike any other New World monkey, Goeldi's are known to rely heavily on mushrooms during the dry season when fruit is scarce.

At the Smithsonian's National Zoo, Goeldi's monkeys eat fruit and vegetables, high-fiber monkey chow, canned marmoset diet, crickets and mealworms.

Sleep Habits

These monkeys sleep close together in hollow trees. They also rest in dense groups roughly three times per day for periods of 30 to 90 minutes. While resting, Goeldi's monkeys often sunbathe and groom.

Social Structure

Like other primates, Goeldi's monkeys are social and will often sleep and rest in groups.

Reproduction and Development

Females typically give birth to a single offspring after a gestation of about 155 days, which means they could have multiple births within a year. Young Goeldi's monkeys are weaned at 12 weeks, and the male may help carry the young when the female is not nursing.

Conservation Efforts

The International Union for Conservation of Nature lists Goeldi's monkeys as vulnerable, as of a 2008 analysis. Potential for habitat loss is considered their primary threat; the most recent assessment found that their region was stable but expected to rapidly decline due to proposed plans fro human development and logging. This anticipated loss of habitat, combined with the species' already fragmented populations, has resulted in their vulnerable classification. Goeldi's monkeys are also affected by hunting and trapping.

These monkeys can be found in multiple protected areas around Brazil, Colombia and Peru. They are also listed on CITES Appendix I, which helps to limit their trade.

Animal News

Aspen and Juniper: A Beaver Love Story

February 09, 2024

Public Can Help Name Cotton-Top Tamarins at the Smithsonian’s National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute

February 05, 2024

White-Naped Crane Dies at the Smithsonian’s National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute

January 31, 2024