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COSTA RICA EXPEDITIONS

Squirrel Monkey in the rainforest of Costa Rica.
Photo by Mason Fischer® Aug 2004

Squirrel Monkey
The Squirrel Monkey (Saimiri sciureus) is the smallest of the primates. Only 14 inches long, but with a 16 inch tail, it weighs a mere 26-40 ounces. Its tail is only partially prehensile, meaning it is not used primarily for grasping onto things but is used mostly for support. The monkey has short, yellow-green fur that gets paler underneath on the belly and the face. It has a well-developed thumb and possess nails instead of claws. As they move through the trees, they secrete a musky odor to mark their territory and turn off potential hunters.

Squirrel Monkeys live in groups or troops made up to as many 300 individuals. They are diurnal; spending most of their day foraging through primary and secondary forests; looking for fruit, insects, leaves and seeds to eat. Although the smallest primate, they are thought to be the most vocal with constant squeals and whistles. This vocalization helps them keep in contact with each other and share information.

The troop is made of a core group of females in which some will produce a single birth each year. Those females that do not produce offspring will act as ìauntsî helping the mothers care for their young. The male does not take part in the care or rearing of the young. Gestation lasts 6 months and the baby is only 31/2 ounces when born. Although the babies are able to climb from birth, they will ride on their mothers backs by holding onto their fur. Squirrel Monkeys can have a life span of up to 20 years.

These monkeys are very popular as pets and as research animals. These practices, along with habitat destruction and illegal hunting, pose threats and problems for the Squirrel Monkey. See Corcovado Lodge information and prices.

From a guest: "The (tent) camp has to be the best place I have ever been. It is literally right along the beach and the jungle. It's like a scene out of survivor. No cars, houses, noises, tvs, phones, anything. Just the loud crash of the waves, the roars of the howler monkey and the screeches of the macaws. We had the beach and the jungles to ourselves. Our tent, which was more like a canvas hotel room, was facing the ocean. We could open our flap and there it was. We spent the day eating at the restaurant, which served delicious family style meals by the most friendly wait staff in the world. We then took a nap, laid in the hammocks, walked along the beach, saw some spider monkeys playing, watched the sunset and called it a night." -Nick Klenske, Jan. 18, 2005.