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Picture by Mason Fischer®. May 2005.

Squirrel Monkey

The Red-backed Squirrel Monkey (Saimiri oerstedii) lives in groups or troops of as many 35 individuals. They are diurnal, spending most of their day foraging through the lower levels of the primary and secondary forests looking for fruit, insects, leaves and seeds to eat. Although the smallest primate, weighing a mere 16-29 ounces, 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. Only 12 inches long, they have a 15 inch non-prehensile tail. Squirrel monkeys are very popular as pets and as research animals. This popularity, along with habitat destruction and illegal hunting, make the Squirrel Monkey the most endangered species of monkey in Central America. 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 "aunts" helping the mothers care for their young. The male does not take part in the care or rearing of the young. Gestation lasts seven months and the baby is only 3 1/2 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.
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Keel-billed Toucan Scarlet Macaw Squirrel Monkey Red-eyed tree frog Baird's Tapir