The guides tell South – American Squirrel Monkey

Amazing! said one of our guests as we had observed about 200 Squirrel Monkeys in which the youngest mother carried an infant on her back while the juveniles played and pulled each other’s tails and the father was worried about finding food.
Taking advantage of this natural gift, I began to explain their natural history.
Squirrel monkeys are the most common primates in the Amazon. They are widely distributed in Peru, Colombia, Brazil, and their status is of Least Concern according to the IUCN Red List.
They have a straight, non-prehensile tail, which allows them to have a good balance in the trees, and their 25 different kinds of vocalizations provide effective communication while traveling together.

Why the name squirrel?

Some mention that it is because of its floppy tail, others that they are as agile as squirrels while in Spanish, it is known as barizo, clown, or soldier monkey; in our Kichwa language, we call it Killu Maki Barisa or Yellow-handed Barisa.

What do they eat?

Scientifically, we would say that they eat arthropods, among which we count Lepidoptera orthoptera complemented with reproductive parts of plants, which in common parlance correspond to butterflies, moths, grasshoppers, crickets, locusts, fruits. The percentage of food ingested depends on the season; in the dry one, the ingestion will be higher of fruits, while in the rainy season, insects.

Do they reproduce like their human cousins?

They are polygamous with an average lifespan of 20 years in the wild; as males are sexually mature at 4, females are at 2 and a half years of age. The gestation process lasts between 150-170 days; females give birth to one individual during the rainy season, which ensures that there is a sufficient amount of protein available through insect ingestion.

Fathers, mothers, and aunts

Only the mothers nurse and care for the infants until they become independent. Therefore, the fathers play no role in the growth of the young whilst the young females become aunts helping the mothers care for them.

Good boys and girls

Both males and females are part of the troop, whose number varies from 25 to 300 individuals. They are all together during the breeding season until the end of it when subgroups are formed based on age, sex as well as roles within the family. 

There are no disputes over territory; they tend to avoid each other, and sometimes, they probably come along temporarily to forage for food. The living area of a troop is 50 to 100 hectares (124 acres),  traveling about 3 km (1.9 miles) per day.

A toucan in the story

While discussing the size of these new world primates, the whole group watched how a White-throated toucan tried to steal the eggs from a flycatcher’s nest. This fact impressed one of our little guests, who asked if toucans were as well-behaved as the ones in the Fruit Loops box. Another opportunity to interpret more mysteries of the jungle…

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Sani Lodge
In our trips, you have the opportunity to explore untouched forests, understand the intrinsic relationships among plants and animals, search for stunning flora and fauna and learn from ancient cultures: the true treasures of the Amazon Rainforest. When you stay with us, you become part of our extended community where we share and teach you about our environment and culture. At Sani Lodge, you are not only choosing an amazing adventure, but also the opportunity to immerse yourself in our Amazon Kichwa lifestyle. Come and join us, support our indigenous community and the Rainforest conservation that you will love to call it home.


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