Reproduction in captive common marmosets (Callithrix jacchus)

Suzette D. Tardif, Darlene A. Smucny, David H. Abbott, Keith Mansfield, Nancy Schultz-Darken, Maria Emilia Yamamoto

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

128 Scopus citations

Abstract

Though sexual maturation may begin at around one year of age, first successful reproduction of the common marmoset (Callithrix jacchus) is likely to be later, and it is generally recommended that animals not be mated before 1.5 years of age. The average gestation period is estimated to be 143 to 144 days. A crown-rump length measurement taken by use of ultrasonography during the linear, rapid, prenatal growth phase (between approx. days 60 and 95) can be compared against standard growth curves to estimate delivery date to within 3 to 4 days, on average. Marmosets produce more young per delivery than does any other anthropoid primate, and have more variation in litter size. Many long-established colonies report that triplets are the most common litter size, and there is documented association between higher maternal body weight and higher ovulation numbers. Higher litter sizes generally do not generate higher numbers of viable young. Marmosets are unusual among primates in having a postpartum ovulation that typically results in conception and successful delivery; reported median interbirth intervals range from 154 to 162 days. However, pregnancy losses are quite common; one study of a large breeding colony indicated 50 percent loss between conception and term delivery. The average life span for breeding females is around six years; the range of reported average lifetime number of litters for a breeding pair is 3.45 to 4.0. Our purpose is to provide an overview of reproduction in the common marmoset, including basic reproductive life history, lactation and weaning, social housing requirements, and common problems encountered in the captive breeding of this species. A brief comparison between marmoset and tamarin reproduction also will be provided.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)364-368
Number of pages5
JournalComparative medicine
Volume53
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 2003

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • veterinary(all)

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