The fur of the Emperor Tamarin is predominantly grey colored, with yellowish speckles on its chest. The hands and feet are black and the tail is brown. Outstanding is its long, white mustache, which extends to both sides beyond the shoulders.
This primate inhabits tropical rain forests, living deep in the forest and also in open tree-covered areas. This diurnal species walks or runs quadrupedally through the forest, spending the majority of its days in the trees with quick, safe movements and broad jumps among the limbs.
The diet of the Emperor Tamarin is similar to that of other tamarins. It is an omnivore, primarily eating fruits, insects and sap. When feeding on sap, the Emperor Tamarin latches on to the tree vertically with its claws dug into the bark of the tree. It also eats bird eggs and small vertebrates (such as tree frogs). Due to its small weight it can reach food at the far end of branches, which are not accessible to heavier animals.