Common squirrel monkey

Saimiri sciureus

SUBFAMILY

Cebinae

TAXONOMY

Saimiri sciureus (Linnaeus, 1758), Cayenne, French Guyana. Taxonomy is disputed, has four subspecies.

OTHER COMMON NAMES

French: Saimiri écureuil; German: Totenkopfaffchen; Spanish: Mono ardilla.

PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICS

Fur is gray to black crown; olive-gray back; light yellow underside; yellow-orange forearms, hands, and feet; white ears and around eyes. Head and body length is 10.8-14.6 in (27.5-37 cm). Tail length is 15-17.8 in (26.5-45 cm). Weight is 19.5-44.1 oz (559-1,250 g).

DISTRIBUTION

Brazil, Colombia, French Guiana, Guyana, Suriname, and Venezuela.

HABITAT

Primary and secondary rainforest, riverine forest, and mangrove swamps from sea level to 6,600 ft (2,000 m).

BEHAVIOR

Diurnal and arboreal. Multimale-multifemale groups of 20-300 animals. Strict male dominance hierarchy with males dominant over females and integrated within the group year-round. Male emigration upon sexual maturity.

FEEDING ECOLOGY AND DIET

Squirrel monkeys have a high need for protein. Predominately eat fruit and animal prey including frogs, snails, crabs, insects, spiders, and occasionally bats.

REPRODUCTIVE BIOLOGY

Promiscuous mating often with multiple mountings. Males become "fatted", with upper body weight gain, an increase in testes size, and active spermatogenesis just prior to the breed

ing season. This is followed six months later by a birth season (coinciding with the wet season) when food is most abundant. Females reach sexual maturity at 30-36 months and gestation is 168-180 days. Births are single.

CONSERVATION STATUS

Widespread and uncommon to locally common. Main pressures on populations include habitat degradation, deforestation, hunting for food, and collection for laboratories. Listed in Appendix 2 of CITES.

SIGNIFICANCE TO HUMANS

Collected for the pet and research markets. Annual export quotas from Guyana to U. S. laboratories. Hunted for food in some areas of its range. ♦

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