HRL: 10-14 inches (26-36 cm). TL: 14-17 inches (35-42.5 cm). Weight:
1 1/2 - 2 1/2 pounds (.75-1.1 kg). Males are larger than females. Pelage
short, thick, soft, and brightly colored. Skin on lips and around
nostrils is black and almost devoid of hair. Most common coloration is
white around eyes, ears, throat, and on sides of neck. Top of head is
black to grayish, back forearms, hands, and feet are reddish or yellow
with shoulders and hind feet suffused with gray. Thumb is short but well
developed. Underparts whitish to yellowish, tail bicolored with black
tip. Tail is only partially prehensile.
II. GEOGRAPHICAL RANGE AND HABITAT:
Northern South America to Peru, Bolivia, Paraguay, and Brazil. Lives
in virgin and secondary forests and in cultivated areas, usually along
rivers and streams
Insects, spiders, bird eggs, young birds, fruit and nuts. Zoo diet
is usually vegetables, fruit, and monkey chow.
IV. LIFE CYCLE/SOCIAL STRUCTURE:
Diurnal. Can move almost silently through the upper canopy. Usually
quiet but utters loud cries when alarmed. Arboreal although occasionally
descends to ground. Associate in bands of 12-100. Squirrel monkey groups
are subdivided into adult male bands, mother-infant bands, and juvenile
bands. Adult females with their young form the core of the group. Adult
males intermingle with the females only during the several months of
mating season. Single young born after 6 months gestation. Mother is not
particularly attentive. Females mature at age 2 1/2; males at 4-5 years.
Life span is 15 years.
V. SPECIAL ADAPTATIONS:
Squirrel monkeys move through the trees by leaping. They have thighs
that are shorter relative to their lower legs; this allows more jumping
force. They distribute a musky glandular secretion throughout their fur
(especially on tail) as scent to mark territory or to leave a trail for
others of the troop to follow as they go through the trees. This odor
turns away hunters who might otherwise kill them for food. Squirrel
monkeys find safety in numbers by feeding in large groups that are too
great for the larger monkeys to chase from the trees.
VI. STATUS IN WILD:
Most common monkey in South America. They have been extensively used
for biomedical research in the past. Trade is now regulated, but they
are used locally for food, bait and pets.
1. MacDonald, David. 1987. Encyclopedia of Mammals. Equinox, Oxford.
2. Novak, Ronald and Paradiso, John. 1983. Walker's Mammals of the
World, 4th Ed, Vol. I, Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore, MD.
3. Docent information sheets.
AC: added info on 10/14/04
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