Do snakes represent the principal predatory threat to callitrichids? Fatal attack of a viper (Bothrops leucurus) on a common marmoset (Callithrix jacchus) in the Atlantic Forest of the Brazilian Northeast


A juvenile common marmoset (Callithrix jacchus) was attacked by a whitetail lancehead viper (Bothrops leucurus) while playing with other group members close to the ground at a site in northeastern Brazil. The attack was almost immediately fatal, but the viper was unable to ingest the body of the marmoset. After approximately 10 min, during which it attempted to swallow the marmoset a number of times, the viper moved away, abandoning the body. While raptors are the principal predators of callitrichids, this record reinforces the relative vulnerability of these primates to snakes in comparison with other platyrrhines, although the small number of recorded events precludes a more definitive analysis of the phenomenon.

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This study was supported by the Brazilian National Research Council, CNPq (project numbers 302747/2008-7, 476064/2008-2, and 374115/2010-9) and the Boticário Foundation (project no. 0846_20092). We thank Dr. Renato Faria for the identification of the snake, Valdineide Santana (IBAMA/SE) and the staff at Mata do Junco for their assistance with this research, as well as an anonymous reviewer for helpful comments on the original version of the manuscript.

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Correspondence to Stephen F. Ferrari.

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Ferrari, S.F., Beltrão-Mendes, R. Do snakes represent the principal predatory threat to callitrichids? Fatal attack of a viper (Bothrops leucurus) on a common marmoset (Callithrix jacchus) in the Atlantic Forest of the Brazilian Northeast. Primates 52, 207 (2011) doi:10.1007/s10329-011-0260-8

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  • Callithrix jacchus
  • Bothrops leucurus
  • Predation patterns
  • Callitrichidae
  • Brazil