SPIDER MONKEY

Scientific Name: Ateles geoffroyi

A spider monkey is named for it’s long and thins arms, legs, and tails. Having these strong and long limbs help this animal to be one of the best equipped arboreal (living in the trees) animals found the rainforest.

A spider monkey can swing through the rainforest canopy and hang suspended by their tail. Their long limbs help them pick fruit (their favorite food). They live almost exclusively on fruit and nuts. They also eat young leaves, flowers, sometimes bark and decaying wood, as well as honey.


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Spider monkeys live high in the rainforest canopy. They rarely ever see the forest floor.


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Spider monkeys are 3-5 feet in length, with its tail accounting for about 60%. They weigh about 15-18 pounds.

The Spider Monkey is a diurnal (active during the day) animal that is quite social. Most spider monkeys live in groups of about 30 other spider monkeys.

Spider monkeys are considered an Old World Primate, because they don’t have thumbs. Other monkeys in Costa Rica like the Capuchin and Squirrel Monkey have thumbs that help them hang on to branches and peel fruit.

But, just because a Spider Monkey lacks a thumb, doesn’t mean it can’t get around. Spider monkey are some of the finest examples of animals who get around in the canopy. They swing effortlessly. It’s been recorded that with one swing of the arm, a spider monkey can cover 40 feet.


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When spider monkeys are on the lookout, it stands or walks on two feet, using the tail to hold on to a support.

Because Spider Monkeys are arboreal animals, they rarely ever touch the rainforest floor. They also require large ranges of unbroken forest. They do not coexist well with humans. Logging, hunting, and habitat destruction have made the spider monkey an endangered species.


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When a spider monkey spots a human, a common response is for it to scream, growl, or jump up and down while shaking the tree limbs. They’ve even been known to throw fruit at tourists!


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A Spider Monkey’s prehensile tail acts like a fifth arm and can be used for balance or just hanging out.

Dave Freeman is the Executive Director of the Wilderness Classroom. Dave and Amy Freeman have traveled over 30,000 miles by kayak, canoe and dogsled through some of the world’s wildest places. National Geographic named the Dave and Amy Adventurers of the Year in 2014.

When the Freemans aren’t on expeditions or conducting school assemblies, they guide canoe, kayak and dogsled trips.

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