The squirrel monkey is a New World monkey that is made up of five different species. Found in the tropical forests of Central and South America, the squirrel monkey is commonly referred to as the “death’s head monkey” due to its ominous facial features.
Scientific & Common Names
Kingdom - Animalia
Phylum - Chordata
Class - Mammalia
Order - Primates
Family - Sebidae
Genus - Saimiri
Common Names - Squirrel Monkey, Death's Head Monkey
All of the species of squirrel monkeys are small primates with short fur and long tails. Until 1984 they were all considered a single species, but now there are five separate types, most of which can be distinguished by variations in the white fur around the face.
Squirrel monkey birth is seasonal, with females having their babies during the rainy season. Males do not participate in child raising.
These monkeys live in large groups and spend most of their time moving very quickly through trees. Their tails are used for balance, not for climbing. They typically eat fruits, seeds, nuts, and insects.
In 1959, a squirrel monkey named Miss Baker was sent into space by the United States. She flew in a capsule 300 miles high and returned safely after a 16 minute flight. She lived to be 27 years old, which is old for a squirrel monkey. She passed away in 1984.
Squirrel monkeys are frequently seen in the pet trade.
In many regions where they’re present, squirrel monkeys are thought of as pests because they often invaded plantations and farms for food. However, this is considered to be a direct result of habitat loss. Although squirrel monkeys as a whole are not classified as endangered, two subspecies are classified as vulnerable due to the previously mentioned loss of their natural habitat coupled with a dwindling supply of their most commonly consumed foods.