Monday, September 03, 2007

Marmoset Monkeys in Rio

I spotted this family of four marmoset monkeys the other day at the Palacio do Catete grounds in Rio. They were mom, dad and their 2 babies, running up and down the trees looking for food. They are called micos or saguis in Brazil, and though quite common to be seen in wooded areas - even within the city - this was the first time I personally saw one out in "the wild".
When I was growing up we had 2 little marmosets like these, that were given to us by some acquaintance. They were not tame at all, so we couldn't touch or play with them, as they could really bite. Their teeth are little needles and very sharp. They were kept in an large outdoors cage meant for pet birds, with a clay shingle roof. We actually had this cage built to resemble something you'd find in a zoo, big enough for an adult to step in. As I kid I was fascinated with small pets, specially birds, and always nagged my parents for a cage like that. This one was shaped like an L, with a fixed wire mesh divider in the middle, so we could separate different species, etc. At the time they were put there, the monkeys were it's only residents. I recall that they stank REALLY bad. So, don't ask me why, we had gotten some baby chicks, cute, yellow & fuzzy, and they were put in the partition next to the monkeys. Keep it in mind that there was a wall about a foot & a half tall at ground level around the cage and partition, so no cats or predators could reach in. But there was a small evacuation hole, like a 1" thick pipe, that connected the partitions so water wouldn't puddle inside. We always kept a rock or brick on both sides of the pipe for whatever reason, to block passage. One day, so I was told by my older sister, when she went up to the cage to check on the baby chicks she saw a ghastly bloody scene. The little monkeys had managed to move the rock and lured one of the chicks close enough to the pipe to yank it to the other side. All was left of the chick was it's legs as the "cute little monkeys" had devoured all the rest. Very traumatizing for a child to hear that story. Needless to say the monkeys were donated shortly after that to some guy who displayed them at his gas station.

Click images to enlarge for detail.

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