Facts about Squirrel Monkeys

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1.Smallest Primates

Squirrel monkeys are among the tinniest primates. There are 5 species mostly found in South and Central America in 5 species.  These species are the Common, the Central American, the Black Capped, the Black Headed, and the Golden Backed Squirrel Monkeys. All species of squirrel monkey are similar in terms of appearance but vary slightly in color and regions where they live.

2.Physical Features

Squirrel monkey males appear larger and heavier than females. On average, squirrel monkeys grow to reach a height of between 9.8 and 14 inches and attain a maximum weight of 2.4 pounds Squirrel monkey bodies are covered with fur that is mainly grey or olive in color. They have white faces, throats and ears and black mouths. Their extremities and backs have a yellow-orange fur cover. Squirrel monkeys have long, un-prehensile tails that provides them with balance as they move through treetops. They have dexterous fingers that allow them to grip branches firmly, hold onto prey and open fruits.


Squirrel monkeys are arboreal animals that live on trees. These primates spend at least 99% of their lives on trees. Squirrel monkeys tend to inhabit dense marshes, wetlands, tropical rainforests and mangrove forests near water sources for safety purposes. These primates are most active at daytime and inhabit middle level parts of forest canopy. They rarely inhabit top canopy or ground due to danger of being caught by predators.

4.Threats to existence of Squirrel Monkey

The loss of their habitat threatens squirrel monkey survival with shrinking territories and agriculture forcing these primates to invade plantations. Many squirrel monkeys are killed by farmers to reduce damage on crops. Out of these 5 species present in South and Central America, two are considered vulnerable and are likely to become endangered species in future.


Squirrel monkeys are pure omnivores that feed of different kinds of leaves, flowers, nuts, buds, insects, nuts, eggs and lizards. Their eyesight is pretty sharp to an extent that they distinguish colors. This enables them to identify fruits in dense vegetation quickly.

6.They have Large Brains

Squirrel monkeys are among the cleverest monkeys. Their brains are much larger relative to the size of their bodies.


Squirrel monkeys are social animals that move noisily in big troops of between 40 and 50 animals. Troops can have up to 50 squirrel monkeys and usually comprise pregnant females, adult males, nursing females, and baby squirrel monkeys. They communicate through 25 to 30 varying calls among the troops. Squirrel monkeys produce distinct noises when searching for food, mating or when threatened. They spend the nights together and break out into different sub-groups at daytime to feed.

8.Marking their Paths

Squirrel monkeys use urine to mark their paths through treetops. They use their feet and paths to spread the urine on the trees so that other members of the troop can locate them with ease following the scent. Squirrel monkeys are known to track other troops from a distance in order to use the food they leave behind their path.


The mating season for squirrel monkeys is between January and March. There are fights among males to get a mating opportunity. The gestation period for these primates are 5 months and females give birth to one baby during the rainy season coincide with abundant food supplies. Females tend to the babies on their own and babies spend their initial weeks on their mothers’ backs. Squirrel monkey babies gain independence and begin fending for themselves at 10 months.


Squirrel monkeys are preyed on by birds and snakes due to their tiny size. They can survive for up to 15 years in the jungle and 20 years when domesticated.

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