Wildlife Costa Rica – 9 Truths About Squirrel Monkeys


These are part of the family of the New World Monkeys and one of the 4 species of monkeys living in Costa Rica. Their full name is Black Crowned Central American Squirrel Monkeys and can be found in the tropical forests of the  Pacific Coasts of Costa Rica.

Here are some truths about them:


1. Unlike the other New World monkeys, their tail is not used for climbing, but as a kind of “balancing pole” and as a tool.

Find the best monkey viewing areas of Costa Rica. 

2. Squirrel monkey’s fur is short and close. Its color is olive at the shoulders and yellowish orange on its back and extremities. Their throat and the ears are white and their mouths are black. Their head is orange or reddish-orange in color, with a black cap.

3. Squirrel monkeys are omnivores. They love eating fruits and insects. Occasionally they also eat nuts, buds, eggs and small vertebrates.

4. Squirrel monkeys are very small. They only grow up to 25 to 35 cm, plus a 35 to 42 cm tail.

5. These mammals live about 15 years old in the wild and about 20 years in captivity.


6. They are diurnal and arboreal. Their movements in the branches are extremely speedy.

7. They live together in multi-male/multi-female groups with up to 500 members. These large groups can, however, occasionally break into smaller troops.

8. By 1983, the Central American squirrel monkey had already declined drastically by deforestation. Currently, deforestation and habitat fragmentation due to agriculture and tourism development are still the major causes of decline. Insecticide spraying, the pet trade and electrocution from electric power lines have also negatively affected these monkeys. They are in the endangered list.

9. Squirrel monkeys spread urine on the bottoms of the hands and feet. So other monkeys can smell this as it marks the territory.

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About Marina Villatoro

Marina Kuperman Villatoro CEO of TravelExperta.com, a travel resource site to inspire families to travel with kids of all ages. Marina has been an expat 20+ years in Central America raising 2 boys in a multicultural, trilingual household. She travels all over the world with her family to give first hand experiences of where to eat, stay and play with kids. Needless to say, it’s never boring! Join Marina on Facebook and Twitter for more unique and boutique family travel!

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