Meet the Squirrel Monkey
The innocent image projected by this primate corresponds perfectly to its character. In fact, this animal can coexist –even become friends– with other species, such as the capuchin monkey.
The squirrel monkey (Saimiri sciureus), also known as saimiri, is a South American primate belonging to the cebids. This small primate, weighing barely 1 kg (2 lb), has a whitish mask on its face and a typical dark snout. Its fur is yellowish and orange, with white pigmentation on the belly.
Its tail isn’t prehensile, so it can’t grasp with it unlike other primates of the New World. This very agile mammal spends much of its life in trees.
Squirrel monkeys are diurnal and arboreal primates, living in large groups ranging from 15 to 50 individuals, even if some claim that there can be as many as 500 individuals.
They’re not excessively territorial or conflictive animals. They usually inhabit the middle layer of forest edges. Also, two groups may coincide in the same area without any fights, as they simply ignore each other.
As for their diet, they consume different fruits and berries. They also eat insects and small vertebrates such as frogs and lizards. In fact, births coincide with the season when arthropods abound, between February and April, after a gestation period of five months.
Squirrel monkey offspring live on their mothers’ backs for weeks. Then, they begin to become independent and are cared for by other members of the group as well. Finally, they’re weaned at six months of age. As with other primates, their infancy is long compared to the lifespan of the species, which is why it’s not possible to keep this animal as a pet.
Like other monkeys, they spend long hours grooming, which allows them to eliminate parasites. Moreover, this behavior has a great social function that allows them to establish strong bonds among group members.
Squirrel monkeys’ relationships with other species
One of the most curious things about squirrel monkeys is their relationship with other primate species. This is something that’s quite uncommon in this group of animals, as squirrel monkeys get along quite well with capuchin monkeys.
These primates live in the tropical rain forests of Central and South America, and tend to interact with each other. In their natural environment, they tend to eat together without any major problems, make friends quickly, and play together.
These monkeys also have predators; eagles, snakes, and felines can hunt these small primates. However, squirrel monkeys have different calls similar to the incredible animal communication of the green monkey. This alarm system allows them to climb up the trees and hide.
Threats to the squirrel monkey
The main problem for this species is the degradation of its natural habitat, the jungles of Colombia, Ecuador, and other countries in the neotropical zone. Unfortunately, poachers still catch them in order to illegally sell them as pets.
Even if the health of the species is generally good, some of its subspecies are in danger of extinction. Unfortunately, their habitat continues to disappear due to human greed, and, if things don’t change, this amazing primate could become endangered.