Scientific Name: Saimiri spp
Squirrel Monkeys are some of the most commonly seen monkeys in the Central American rainforest’s, even though they are very shy and skiddish. They average about 1 foot in length, with the their tails adding on another full foot. Squirrel monkeys weigh 1.5-2.5 lbs, and are diurnal, or active during the daytime.
Your average squirrel monkey lives about 30 meters off the ground in virgin and secondary forests and in cultivated areas, usually along rivers and streams. This allows them access to their favorite foods. A spider monkey’s diet includes insects, spiders, bird eggs, young birds, fruit and nuts. About 90% of their diet is composed of soft, tropical fruits.
Squirrel Monkeys can move almost silently through the upper canopy. They are usually quiet, but cry when alarmed. Squirrel Monkeys spend most of their lives in the trees, and are considered Arboreal, although they’ll occasionally descend to the ground.
Woah! Hang on, buddy!
Squirrel Monkeys make their way from tree to tree by jumping. Squirrel Monkeys have thighs that are shorter relative to their lower legs; this allows more jumping force.
When baby squirrel monkeys are born, they spend the first few months of life clinging to their mother’s back. The mothers are very protective of their young, and caring for the young squirrel monkeys is a community affair.
Squirrel Monkeys live in groups of 10-30, which is a much larger group than other species of monkeys found in South and Central America.
Like other monkeys in the Central American rainforest, the Squirrel Monkey is facing some problems. Currently, deforestation and habitat destruction due to agriculture and tourism development are the major causes of decline. Insecticide spraying, the pet trade and electrocution from electric power lines have also adversely affected these squirrel monkeys.
Squirrel monkeys are very cute and look like they would make good pets. However, they are wild animals, and pefer the forest much more than a home. Because people have made them pets in the past, their numbers are being threatened. If they were to vanish from the rain forest, we would lose one of the most interesting animals in Central America.