At the park, we have a group of five male Bolivian Squirrel Monkeys. This cheeky group of monkeys has just been built a new enclosure & can now be seen in the public viewing area of our primate house. These boys are great to watch, as they are always doing something. From foraging for insects, swinging on branches or getting into mischief, you could spend hours watching them!
Bolivian Squirrel Monkeys are found in tropical rain forests in South America.
In the wild, these Squirrel Monkeys mainly eat insects and fruit, but will also eat berries,nuts, flowers, seeds, leaves and small invertebrates, such as bats, birds and eggs.
These monkeys live in social groups ranging from 10 to 550 individuals.
They are polygynandrous, meaning that both males and females will mate with multiple partners in a breeding season. The males that do mate with multiple females, are usually the more dominant individuals. After the breeding season, males and females will once again segregate into different groups.
Females help each other in raising young, this behaviour, called ‘aunting’, is unique to Squirrel Monkeys.
They are sometimes captured for food or for the pet trade. There was once a large trade in Squirrel Monkeys in the US for both biomedical research and as part of the illegal wildlife trade. Between 1968 and 1972, more than 173,000 of them were used for medical research. Regulations were then established that reduced trade in these monkeys for non-research reasons.
Bolivian Squirrel Monkeys are reliant on rain forests, so are vulnerable to deforestation.
Bolivian Squirrel monkeys have been shown to be polymorphic for cone pigment and colour vision, meaning that, like humans, they can see in colour.
Squirrel monkeys play several important roles in their ecosystem as they eat a primary diet of insects and fruit. By eating insects they help to keep the insect populations in check. By eating fruit they act as an agent for seed dispersal; many seeds cannot germinate or disperse without the help of animal digestion.
Squirrel monkeys use their tails as an accessory, both to balance and to use as a third leg when bipedally walking.