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Spider Monkeys

The spider monkeys are the Ateles genus with at least eleven species and ​eight subspecies.

The brown-headed spider monkey has a prehensile tail, which means it can grasp and can be used like a fifth limb to grab trees. During the day, the spider monkey searches for fruit, which makes up the main part of its diet. They will also eat flowers, seeds, bark, leaves, and small insects during the dry season when fruit isn’t available. They spend most of the daylight hours climbing and swinging through the high canopy of trees.

The brown-headed spider monkey lives in a large community of about 20 to 100 male and female monkeys. They split into smaller groups for feeding. Females usually give birth to only a single baby each year or two.

Young monkeys are carried on their mothers’ stomachs until about 16 weeks old. Then they are strong enough to ride on their mothers’ backs. All brown-headed spider monkey infants are born with a pink face and ears.

Our Spider Monkeys

Spider Monkey information

Appearance

These animals are among the largest of the otherwise small New World monkeys with a weight anywhere between 13 and 24 pounds. This is about the weight of a small domesticated dog but with a much longer tail. Males tend to be slightly larger the females overall. Other important features of the spider monkey include the incredibly long arms, the flat nose, eye rings, and the rough hair, which is usually a combination of black, white, brown, or tan.

Behavior

These creatures are highly social animals that gather together into large troops of somewhat related individuals. These troops tend to be small, but gatherings of around 50 monkeys have been observed. These troops break up into smaller groups throughout the day to forage and sleep, especially if it’s the case that food is scarce, but they are usually close enough within reach to aid each other against threats. Feeding typically starts in the morning hours and continues throughout the day, while they sleep in trees during the night. The troop doesn’t appear to have a definitive structure, but it is believed that a single female plans out the group feeding activities for the day.

Diet

The diet of these creatures consists primarily of fruits, nuts, and flowers. This is supplemented with the meat of spiders and insects. The spider monkey will spend a great deal of the day foraging in small groups. It will pick through the trees, looking for hidden morsels. Some monkeys may eat fruits from more than 100 different species of plants over their lives

Reproduction, Babies, and Lifespan

This animal has a breeding season that lasts all year round. The female monkey has wide latitude to choose which male she wants to mate with. However, males can be quite aggressive, sometimes killing the unrelated child of a female it is currently mating with.

The mother will carry the unborn baby for a gestation period of up to 232 days. Upon giving birth, she will often isolate herself from the rest of the troop. Because this birth and development process is quite taxing on the mother, she will produce only a single child about every two to five years. Rarely will she produce twins. The baby monkey will rely on the mother for nursing and protection for about a year after birth. She alone is responsible for the care of her offspring and does not receive any help from the other males and females of the troop. The child will cling to her back and wrap its tail around her own tail or body for protection while she is foraging.

Because of the extra development time needed to learn social cues and other valuable information, this animal has a relatively long maturity time. It will only start breeding after about five years of age. The typical lifespan of the spider monkey is 20 to 27 years.