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Open Access Reproduction in Captive Common Marmosets (Callithrix jacchus)

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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.

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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Southwest National Primate Research Center, Post Office Box 760549, San Antonio, Texas 78245-0549 2: Wisconsin Primate Research Center and Department of Ob/Gyn, University of Wisconsin-Madison, 1220 Capital Court, Madison, Wisconsin 53715-1299 3: New England Primate Research Center, Harvard Medical School, P.O. Box 9102, Southborough, Massachusetts 01772-9012 4: Universidade Federal de Rio Grande, do Norte Natal, Brazil

Publication date: 2003-08-01

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  • Comparative Medicine (CM), an international journal of comparative and experimental medicine, is the leading English-language publication in the field and is ranked by the Science Citation Index in the upper third of all scientific journals. The mission of CM is to disseminate high-quality, peer-reviewed information that expands biomedical knowledge and promotes human and animal health through the study of laboratory animal disease, animal models of disease, and basic biologic mechanisms related to disease in people and animals.

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