Indore: Pygmy Marmoset, a monkey so small that it can fit on your palm and crawl-up your arm, is the new attraction at city zoo. A New World monkey, native to rainforests of western Amazon Basin in South America, has arrived in Indore through exchange programme with Baroda City Zoo.
Its biological name is Cebuella pygmaea. Another amusing new member of the city zoo is a pair of European ferret. Ferret (Mustela putorius furo) is the domesticated form of European polecat and a mammal belonging to the same genus as the weasel Mustela of the family Mustelidae.
Sharing details about the exchange, zoo curator Nihar Parulekar said, “We have tied up with Baroda zoo for exchange this year. We have received a pair of black swan (Cygnus atratus) and Cygnus olor on June 10, marmoset and pair of ferret on Sunday.” He explained that exchange programme helps in rotation of exotic animals in zoos across India.
Talking about marmoset, Parulekar said, “It is the smallest monkey and one of the smallest primates in the world, at just over 100 grams.” It is generally found in evergreen and river-edge forests and is a gum-feeding specialist, or a gummivore.
“We recently prepared his enclosure and will try to provide his preferred food, but mostly he will be given veggies and proteins as given to them in enclosures,” Parulekar said. Members of the marmoset families communicate using a complex system, including vocal, chemical, and visual signals.
“Three main calling signals depend on the distance the call needs to travel. These monkeys may also make visual displays when threatened or to show dominance,” Parulekar said. These monkeys are commonly known as pocket or finger monkeys because of their small size.
Discussing ferret, Parulekar said, “They have an average length of 51 cm (20 in) including 13 cm (5.1 in) tail, weigh about 1.5–4 pounds (0.7–2 kg), and have a natural lifespan of 7 to 10 years.” The male in the pair is larger than the female as they are sexually dimorphic predators.
“They are still used for hunting rabbits in some parts of the world, but increasingly, they are kept only as pets, especially in India,” Parulekar said. An interesting fact that makes ferrets a fun pet is their tendency to secretly hide stuff.
“The name “ferret” is derived from the Latin furittus, meaning “little thief”, a likely reference to the common ferret penchant for secreting away small items,” Parulekar said. Ferrets spend 14–18 hours a day asleep and are most active around the hours of dawn and dusk, which make it difficult to catch them in camera lens. “If excited, they may perform a behaviour called the ‘weasel war dance’, characterised by frenzied sideways hops, leaps and bumping into nearby objects,” Parulekar said. Contrary to the name, it is more of a joyful act.