The Central American Squirrel Monkey (Saimiri Oerstedii) is a New World Monkey in the Cebidae family of monkeys and is indigenous to the Pacific coastal regions of Cost Rica and areas of Panama. Like other members of the Squirrel Monkey family, the Central American Squirrel Monkey is very small in size, and can be easily recognized by its orange back and a distinctive white and black facial mask. Central American Squirrel Monkeys live in large groups that typically contain between 20 and 75 monkeys, and they have an average life expectancy of approximately 15 years.
The Central American Squirrel Monkey only lives in the Pacific coastal regions of Costa Rica and Panama. The Central American Squirrel Monkey thrives on low and mid-growth vegetation which is very difficult to find in dense forest regions, which is why they are typically found in lowland forests and most commonly seen in primary and secondary growth areas that have been logged either partially or completely. Visitors looking to spot a Central American Squirrel Monkey can usually do so in either the Manuel Antonio National Park or the Corcovado National Park with relative ease.
Like many New World Monkey species, the Central American Squirrel Monkey is omnivorous; meaning that it eats both plants and animals as part of its diet. Most of their diet includes insects and insect larvae, spiders, fruit, leaves, bark, flowers, and nectar. It also eats small vertebrates such as bats, birds, lizards, and tree frogs. Their favorite thing to eat is grasshoppers and caterpillars, and they have a particular fancy for their larva. The Central American Squirrel Monkey spends nearly 75% of its time searching for food in the lower and middle levels of the forest that typically ranges between fifteen and thirty feet high.
Fun Central American Squirrel Monkey Facts
- Central American Squirrel Monkeys are an important seed disperser and a pollinator of certain flowers, including the passion flower.
- Predators of the Central American Squirrel Monkey include birds of prey, cats and snakes.
- Only 50% of Central American Squirrel Monkey infants survive more than six months, largely due to predation by birds.
- On average, male Central American Squirrel Monkeys weigh 16% more than female Central American Squirrel Monkeys.
- Squirrel Monkeys have the largest brains of all primates relative to their body size; about 4-5% of their body weight.