The Diet of Marmosets

Written by wendy clem
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The Diet of Marmosets
Marmosets have wide-ranging dietary needs when in captivity. (pigmy marmoset. image by Timothy Lubcke from

Marmosets are small tree monkeys that have recently become popular house pets. When raised in the wild, they are omnivores, primarily feeding on insects, fruit and parts of trees. But when in captivity they must have a steady diet to make up for the natural foods they are missing. They need meals twice a day to prevent boredom and mood swings, and food dishes should also be placed in an elevated spot to mimic the tree tops they would normally eat in.

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Arabic Gum

Marmosets have claws unlike some other primates. In the wild, they use those and their teeth to bore into tree bark to reach the gum beneath. It is such an important source of calcium, minerals and energy, as well as their daily activity, a substitute is necessary for marmosets in captivity. Powdered Arabic gum---mixed with other ingredients, like fruit, water and baby food---can be ordered online at, or the site. By adding one part powder to two parts water, the gum is ready in two to three hours. The recommended method of distribution is to stuff it into a pole of hollow wood, drill holes and let the marmoset dig out the gum.

Daily Diet

Their diet should include chopped fruit such as mango, papaya or apple, but not more than one banana per week. For variety, you can add bits of cooked meat or fish, rice and baby cereal. Fresh or cooked carrots, cauliflower, peas and cucumber to mushrooms and fennel can supplement the diet. Hard-boiled egg whites, tomato and yoghurt provide more choices. All food should be cut into small chunks for easy digestion. Fresh water needs to be available at all times, and even baby milk is recommended.

Daily Vitamins

Vitamins from A to D3 are important to balance the marmoset diet and steady their often-erratic temperament. Half of a 250-milligram, chewable Vitamin C tablet per animal should be administered daily, as well as one drop of paediatric oral liquid vitamin with Vitamin D3, or a chewable children's daily vitamin. Tums, or another calcium-based anti-acid, can also be given daily. Experts warn against overdosing with vitamins, but if in doubt, check with a veterinarian that specialises in birds and exotic animals.

Other Foods

Insects, spiders, lizards, snails, amphibians and miscellaneous small invertebrates are all part of the natural marmoset food diet. They also like flowers, tree saps and nectar. Twice per week their diet can be supplemented with mealworms, grasshoppers, crickets and mouse pinkies, or tiny mice, used to feed reptiles.

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