Ingestion of calcium solutions by common marmosets (Callithrix jacchus)

Michael L. Power, Suzette D. Tardif, Donna G. Layne, Jay Schulkin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


Callithrix jacchus, the common marmoset, is a small New World primate that feeds on insects, fruit, and gum, and has a high reproductive rate for a primate. Insects are generally a poor source of dietary calcium. While gums may contain significant levels of calcium. Their high reproductive rate also suggests that reproductive female C. jacchus might be susceptible to calcium deficiency. Thus, we hypothesized that common marmosets might find solutions containing calcium to be palatable. We used choice experiments to examine this phenomenon in 14 male and 19 female common marmosets. Animals were presented with identical water bottles containing either deionized water or a calcium lactate solution (either 2% or 4% calcium lactate by weight) and intake was measured. Serum 25-OH-vitamin D was monitored in a subset of the animals in the experiment to examine the role of vitamin D in this behavior. Our results demonstrated that C. jacchus can distinguish between plain water and a calcium lactate solution, and that in general they prefer calcium solutions. Although animals with marginal vitamin D status did have strong preferences for calcium solutions, they did not ingest significantly more of the calcium solutions than animals that were vitamin D-replete. Nulliparous females and males did not differ in the amounts of calcium solutions ingested. Lactating females ingested the greatest volume of the calcium solutions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)255-261
Number of pages7
JournalAmerican Journal of Primatology
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1999


  • Callitrichidae
  • Ingestion
  • Primates
  • Vitamin D

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Animal Science and Zoology


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