- Genus: Samiri. There are 5 different species.
- Conservation Status: Least Concern
- Location: Central and South America
Squirrel monkeys inhabit dense, tropical jungles close to streams. They prefer to stay in the middle level of the forest canopy, and will rarely venture towards the top. They are small new world monkeys with tails that are longer than their bodies. The long tail is not used for gripping but for balancing as these little creatures move along high branches. They grip with their very nimble fingers that also are used to open fruits and hold on to their prey. Squirrel monkeys have olive or grey fur that is quite short. They have a white face and bright yellow legs. They also have tufts of longer and darker hair on their foreheads. Squirrel monkeys are very social and move around in large noisy groups, ranging in size from 50 to 500 members.
A squirrel monkey’s head and body together are only about a foot- 12 inches- long, but its tail is 14 inches in length! Its diet includes insects, grasshoppers, arachnids, fruits, and flowers. Generally speaking, squirrel monkeys have a very diverse diet. In fact, they are often willing to put anything that is small enough into their mouths.
The biggest threat to squirrel monkeys is loss of their habitat. However, they are not yet endangered. They eat many fruits as they move through the trees, and as they go, they spread undigested seeds in their manure within 2-3 hours. The seeds soon sprout to replenish the vegetation that sustains South America's rich forests.
Did You Know?
- The squirrel monkey uses a number of vocal calls to communicate with the rest of the troop. It has special warning sounds which indicate the presence of danger.
- The squirrel monkey is highly intelligent, and is known to have the largest brain to body mass ratio of all the monkey species.
- The squirrel monkey makes a "chuck-chuck" sound when it is feeding, to indicate its position to other members of its group.
- These monkeys spread urine on their hands and feet to leave a scent trail whilst moving about in the trees.