Common Squirrel Monkey

Common Squirrel Monkey (Photo by G Watkins)

Saimiri sciureus, the Common Squirrel Monkey is native to northern South America and can be found in French Guiana, Suriname, Guyana, Venezuela, Amazonian Brazil and Colombia. These monkeys spend their time in the mid-level of tropical lowland forests of varying types. The species rarely come to the ground but when they do it is to feed and play.
The Sakiwinki, as it is known in Guyana, is a small size monkey with an average size of 12.5 inches and weighs between one and three pounds. Their fur is an olive grey colour and they have bright yellow limbs and yellow on their backs. The faces are white masks with dark eyes and black around the mouth and jaws. The Sakiwinki is one of the new world monkeys that do not have a prehensile tail. The tail is used to aid balance.

Because of its small size the species is hunted by raptors, snakes and small cats. They can therefore be found with other species of monkeys like the Capuchins which help to raise the alarm when predators are around.

Common Squirrel Monkey (Photo by G Watkins)

Squirrel Monkeys live in large mixed gender groups which could be as large as 500 individuals. Such large groups would break up into smaller feeding troops. Squirrel monkeys are omnivorous; feeding primarily on fruits and insects, though occasionally they would eat eggs, small vertebrates and other plant parts.

Mating in the species is subject to seasonal changes. The males are seasonally dimorphic putting on an additional 20% of their body weight before mating to attract female partners. Squirrel Monkeys are highly promiscuous. The female usually birth one young during the rainy season after a gestation period of 140 days. The male has no part in raring the young. Sexual maturity is reached in the species around age 3 for females and age 5 for the male.

Squirrel Monkeys are used in the pet trade and research. They are considered common throughout their range.

Rain forests are rich in biodiversity and are home to many different plants and animals as well as indigenous communities. Humans, even those who don’t live in the rain forest, rely on it for resources such as building materials (wood and lianas), medicine and fruits.

Rain forests also provide essential environmental services for life on earth; they create soil as well as prevent soil erosion, produce oxygen though photosynthesis, maintain clean water systems, and are a key defence against climate change.  

The Iwokrama Rain Forest is 371,000 hectares, located in the heart of Guyana. Our mission is to develop strategies for conservation and sustainable development for local people in Guyana and the world at large. We are involved in timber, tourism and training.  Come and visit us in the rain forest or at http://www .iwokrama.org.

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