Squirrel Monkey

Squirrel Monkey Facts
Size Up to 12.5 inch (32 cm)
Speed Up to 21.7 mph (35 km/h)
Weight Up to 3 lb (1.4 kg)
Lifespan 15-20 years
Food Fruit, leaves, little animals
Predators Birds of prey, snakes
Habitat South America
Order Primates
Family Cebidae
Scientific name Saimiri
Characteristics Face resembles a skull

Squirrel monkeys are little primates living in large groups in the forests of South America. They are active during the day and spend most of their time in the trees. They run on all fours and use their tail to balance on branches.

Why Are They Called Squirrel Monkeys?

Please take a closer look at them: The eyes are black, the face is white, and their mouth is grey. This may remind you of a skull. This is why they are named “Totenkopf-Äffchen” (skull monkeys) in Germany. They are called squirrel monkeys because they are as agile and move as quickly as squirrels. They are so cute!

Squirrel Monkey Squirrel Monkey - Photo: l i g h t p o e t/Shutterstock

The Tail is Longer Than the Body

The body of a playful squirrel monkey is not larger than 12.5 inch (32 cm). With a length of up to 16 inch (41 cm), their tail is even longer than their body.

The Squirrel Monkey has Five Hands

Squirrel monkeys are not able to hold on or cling to trees with their tail. Yet, it is like a fifth hand for them and helps them to balance on thin branches.

Squirrel Monkey Squirrel Monkey - Photo: Anna Kucherova/Shutterstock

A Special Method to Wash One’s Hands …

Just imagine the following situation: You fixed a date to meet a friend at a certain place. But your friend did not turn up. Now you would like to leave him a message that you were there. If you were a squirrel monkey, you would pee on your hands and feet and then walk about on all fours at the meeting point, so that your friend could smell that you were there. Luckily, we have smartphones ...!

By the way: Squirrel monkeys are rather amicable. Many other animals indulge in fierce territorial fights, but squirrel monkeys prefer to keep out of harm’s way. This is rather clever, as there is enough space for all animals.

Squirrel Monkey Squirrel Monkey - Photo: Anna Kucherova/Shutterstock


During the mating season, male squirrel monkeys fight against each other. Afterwards, the strongest male monkey can mate with most female animals. After the birth of a baby monkey, the male monkey loses most of its influence. From the first day onwards, the young monkey rides on the back of its mother. After about two months it starts to explore its environment on its own. After ten months, the young monkey no longer depends on its mother.

Squirrel Monkey Squirrel Monkey - Photo: Kjersti Joergensen/Shutterstock

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