Q I am mom to a two year old female marmoset named Gigi. I recently had to return to work on a part-time basis and I'm gone about three hours twice a week. Gigi is accustomed to me being home with her all the time and hasn't been alone very often. I was thinking of getting her a companion and just love red -handed tamarins. I contacted a breeder and he said they would be great together and that it would be smart to get Gigi a baby tamarin as a companion. What is your opinion on this? A.
I know how hard it must be to have to leave your little Gigi alone for even a few hours...even more so because you know how much she depends on you being there. I have my personal opinions on this subject learned by first hand trial and error, but I consulted a primate vet and a responsible breeder and here is the feedback: It is NEVER a good idea to mix breeds of monkeys together. Tamarins and Marmosets have very different vocalizations and behaviors. As the tamarin grows older, because of the larger size it will attempt to dominate the marmoset, As the baby gets older and begins to annoy the marmoset it can get ugly. This type of bickering can lead to serious injury to both of them. They will likely fight over territory and possessions and your attention. In the beginning all might seem harmonious. The baby will even climb on the older monkey, they will play and seem to get along. This will end abruptly as the tamarin reaches maturity. On a different note, if you get another monkey, the new monkey will not bond to you but to Gigi; and that will lead to a whole host of new problems. Spend all the time you can with your baby and trust that a total of six hours a week in a large cage full of toys and food, she will be fine. As soon as you get home, let her run around and enjoy your company. She isn't alone enough to harm her attachment to you. If she has enrichment in her cage and a comfy place to nap, she will hardly know you are gone. Why not ask the breeder this question: " If they get along so well, why does he have them in separate cages? "
Q I have a three- year old common marmoset that chews on furniture... he chews on tables and chairs and has all but ruined my china hutch. I've tried giving him toys and can't get him to stop. Any suggestions? A. Chewing on furniture can be bad on a couple of levels: first of all they can actually break their canines on hard woods (according to the vet this has happend) and also the varnish can be hazardous, so getting this situation under control is a good thing. It's in their nature to chew because in their natural habitat they gouge holes in trees and drink the sap from the "wounds" in the bark. It's all but impossible to curb natural behavior so I spoke with a very knowledgable monkey dad/breeder and made a call to a primate vet and got this adivce: Give him some wood of his own to chew on. Do NOT go to a lumber yard or home store because most of the wood there has been treated with kersoene and preservative chemicals that can harm your baby. Go to a hobby supply store and get a few big blocks of balsa wood (the kind that is used for whittling or carving). Have a few holes drilled in there to start and then put some arabic gum or a treat in there for him to discover. He can spend a good while digging to retrieve a raisin you stuffed in there! Not only does he get a snack but it's a great enrichment tool. This should get him interested in chewing on his own wood supply that rewards him with goodies instead of customizing your hutch. Let me know how it works out.
Q We have a 2 year old marmoset that is generally pretty accepting of just about everyone. He has never really just bitten anyone that has been invited to the house . Lately he has nipped at a couple of people he didn't know so we've had to lock him in his cage until company leaves. Is there anything we can do to make him stop this? It's a new thing for him. He was always so sweet. A. At around 2 years of age is when most marmosets reach sexual maturity and is usually when you can expect to see these types of behavior changes. You may notice that he is very accepting of female visitors, in fact seems to seek out their company. His aggression is probably directed at male visitors that he sees as interlopers on his territory. He may be protecting you, or any female members of the family that he sees as "his". Because of their natural family structure, his place in the family can be defined one of two ways. You and your husband are alphas and all other members of the family (pets included) are simply lesser members of the family grouping. OR: He can consider himself now the alpha... you are the female and other males (your husband included) may be a threat to his standing in the family. As for your husband or other male memembers of the family, THEY have to establish their standing with appropriate discipline and take action each and every time he shows aggression. As for company, there is really no way that I can assure you that he will ever be the sweet and lovable little guy he was before maturity. Unfortunately monkeys can be unpredictable and when it comes to strangers, I wouldn't invite trouble by allowing him free reign when you have guests over. In his mind he is only protecting his home from invasion and you can't convince him to ignore what is, in his mind, the natural order of things. Neutering will not change this natural agression, and it's pretty much what happens when cute little monkeys grow up. To you he will most likely remain the sweet little guy he always was and he will just have to go for brief time outs when you have people over....and that's just the way it is when we share our lives with primates.
If you have general questions or need details about any of our products, or if you just need to "monkey" talk, please contact me at (253) 862-0432 or email me at LindaLawrence@aol.com If I'm unable to answer your questions, I'll do my best to direct you to someone who can.