What Does a Squirrel Monkey Eat?
If you have ever wondered what does a squirrel monkey eat, then you will have a better understanding of their diet. Besides fruit, they also consume insects and plant matter. Their diet is so diverse that it would take years to learn everything they need to know. They are omnivorous, but they primarily eat small patches of dense fruit. During the dry season, they also depend on animal prey to survive.
While many primates face foraging challenges as fruit availability varies from season to season, squirrel monkeys are not exempt. Although they remain mostly insectivorous for most of the year, they did consume fruit during the rainy season. While they feed on 68 plant species, they ate the most fruit during the rainy season. Attalea maripa palms made up 28% of their annual fruit diets. The monkeys correlated seasonal shifts with decreased harvests of the Attalea maripa fruit.
Squirrel monkeys spend most of their time in trees, jumping between branches. Though they resemble squirrels in appearance, they are not actually related to squirrels. Their scientific name, meanwhile, translates to “small monkey” in their native South American tongue. Because they spend most of their time in trees, they are also called spider monkeys due to their long fingers. However, unlike other monkeys, squirrel monkeys do not possess opposable thumbs.
The Squirrel monkey is a member of the primate family Sciuridae. Its average weight is between 750 and 950 grams (1.3 to 1.7 lb), and its tail is short and thin. Both sexes are similar in appearance, though males tend to have larger heads and more red-orange pelage than females. There are a number of differences between male and female squirrel monkeys, however.
Squirrel monkeys live in dense patches and spend 75-80% of their time foraging. During the dry season, they depend heavily on animal prey. Males wipe urine on their hands as a way to mark their territory. These mammals form coalitions in groups of fifteen to twelve, and live in a single linear hierarchy. Males tend to be more dominant than females, and they often engage in aggressive behavior, especially toward other males and potential predators.
Although many people think that squirrel monkeys are carnivores, they are in fact omnivores. They eat a variety of plant matter, including leaves, fruit, and insects. While they spend most of the day foraging for food, they will also look for small vertebrates and invertebrates. Female squirrel monkeys reach sexual maturity at about two and a half years of age; males take longer, ranging from 3.5 to four years. These primates live for about fifteen years in the wild and more than twenty years in captivity.
Unlike other primates, squirrel monkeys do not have a preference for specific trees. Their preference is for dense, shady areas that have plenty of water sources. Although some of these monkeys live near streams and the Amazon River, many others congregate around streams. While some species of squirrel monkeys do drink at streams, they generally do not come down from trees. Instead, they drink from puddles and tree holes, which they access through their dense, forest-dense habitats. In fact, they get plenty of water from their food, which is another reason why they are so tolerant to habitat destruction.
Insects and fruit are the primary sources of squirrel monkey food. They also consume nuts and fruits. They often move in mixed groups. This type of monkey lives in tropical forests of Central and South America. This animal weighs about 35 kilograms. Its diet varies depending on the seasons. The monkeys usually eat adult insects in August and September and immature insects in December. Eggs and fruits are also important sources of nourishment for this species.
A series of egg-eating behaviours was analysed to determine which individual characteristics were present in each of the individuals. The individual character of each squirrel monkey was determined by examining eight types of movement sequences. These included the initial taking of an egg by hand, sniffing or biting the egg in its shell, opening and peeling it, and placing it on the cage surface without eating it. These movements were associated with a number of traits, including the ability to identify a family member by the scent of the egg on their tail.
Jessica Watson is a PHD holder from the University of Washington. She studied behavior and interaction between squirrels and has presented her research in several wildlife conferences including TWS Annual Conference in Winnipeg.