For the identification of insects and other fauna and flora of South Africa: please click on the following links:
Insects and related species: Antlions - Ants - Bees - Beetles - Bugs - Butterflies, Moths and Caterpillars - Centipedes and Millipedes - Cockroaches - Crickets - Dragonflies and Damselflies - Grasshoppers and Katydids - Mantis - Stick Insects - Ticks and Mites - Wasps - Woodlice
Plants, Trees, Flowers: (Note: Unless plants fall into a specific species such as Cacti, they have been classified by their flower colour to make them easier to find) Bonsai - Cacti, Succulents, Aloes, Euplorbia - Ferns and Cycads - Flowers - Fungi, Lichen and Moss - Grass - Trees
Animals, Birds, Reptiles etc.: Animals, Birds, Fish and Crabs - Frogs - Lizards - Scorpions - Snails and Slugs - Snakes - Spiders - Tortoise, Turtles and Terrapins - Whipscorpions
Other photography: Aeroplanes - Cars and Bikes - Travel - Sunrise - Water drops/falls - Sudwala and Sterkfontein Caves etc.

Videos: YouTube

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Monkey House - Part 1 - Squirrel Monkey

A visit to the Money House was a great change from insects and I enjoyed the day.
Squirrel Monkey
Saimiri sciureus
ORDER: PrimatesFAMILY: CebidaeGENUS: SaimiriSPECIES: sciureus

Features:
The average body mass for adult males range between 700 to 1100 grams, and for females the range is between 500 to 750 grams.. The cheek teeth have large cusps assists the common squirrel monkey in eating insects. Males have longer canines than the female. The tail of the common squirrel monkey is prehensile in infants but the adults lose this ability.
Adult squirrel monkeys are not very big - they are about as big as a squirrel - 10-14 inches (26-36 cm). Males are larger than females. Their fur is short, thick, soft, and brightly colored. The skin on lips and around nostrils is black with almost no hair. These monkeys are white around the eyes, ears, throat, and on sides of neck. The top of the head is black to grayish, back forearms, hands, and feet are reddish or yellow with shoulders and hind feet mostly gray. The thumb is short but well developed. Their under parts are whitish to yellowish, and the tail is bi-colored with a black tip.
Location:
The common squirrel monkey is found in the countries of Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, French Guiana, Guyana, Peru, Suriname, Paraguay and Venezuela; a small population has been introduced to Southern Florida. This species prefers rainforests, and can adapt to different kinds of rainforests. The common squirrel monkey prefers to live in the middle canopy, but will occasionally come to the ground or go up into the high canopy. They like vegetation which provides good cover from birds of prey like the rainforest, savannah, mangroves, or marshlands.

Food:
The common squirrel monkey is considered both frugivorous and insectivorous, preferring berry-like fruit on branches. They also look for mollusks, and small vertebrates, such as tree frogs. They obtain a majority of water from the foods eaten, and will also obtain water from holes in trees and puddles on the ground. When fruit is scarce, the common squirrel monkey will drink nectar. Squirrel monkeys have been known to eat insects, spiders, bird eggs, young birds, flowers, buds, seeds, leaves, tree gum, sap and nuts. Zoo diet is usually vegetables, fruit, and monkey chow.
Social:
The young are cared for by other females as well as the mother, but not by any males. Social interactions are centered around a group of dominant females. The common squirrel monkey gives birth to a single offspring. Infants are able to climb from birth and the mother’s supporting role is less than with other monkeys. Other females help raise the baby.

Squirrel monkey groups are subdivided into adult male bands, mother-infant bands, and juvenile bands. Adult females with their young form the core of the group. Adult males intermingle with the females only during the several months of mating season.
Movement:
The common squirrel monkey travels through the forest quadrupedally on the branches and leaps when it moves in the lower stories of the forest. This species uses quadrupedal positions when it feeds. Squirrel monkeys move through the trees by leaping. They have thighs that are shorter relative to their lower legs; this allows more jumping force.

The Squirrel Monkey has extremely dextrous fingers to clamber through the trees as well as to investigate food and find hidden insects. Although it has a short thumb, this is well developed. Its tail is longer than its body, but this only helps it balance and is not prehensile.
Territories:
The common squirrel monkey will spread urine on the bottoms of the hands and feet. Other monkeys can smell this as it marks the territory. In addition, they also distribute a musky glandular secretion throughout their fur (especially on tail) as scent to mark territory or to leave a trail for others of the troop to follow as they go through the trees. This odour turns away hunters who might otherwise kill them for food

Communication:
Like other primates, squirrel monkeys have a wide range of calls and body postures. Among their 26 calls are chirps and peeps to stay in touch as they forage, squawks and purring during mating, and barking in anger.
Habits:
Squirrel monkeys are diurnal. They are usually quiet but will utter loud cries when alarmed. They are arboreal but sometimes they will come down to the ground. Bands or troops can be from 12-100. Occasionally troops as large as 500 have been seen in undisturbed forests.
Status: Squirrel monkeys can live up to 20 years.

Although not yet endangered, the Common Squirrel Monkey is among many rainforest animals threatened by deforestation. The species has also been captured extensively for the pet trade and for medical research.

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