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Spider Monkey Facts

Spider monkeys are one of the most exciting species of monkeys out there in the jungle. These animals are intelligent, agile, and social, and we’re going to tell you all about them in this article. 

We’ll take you through what they eat, why they’re called spider monkeys, and what their behavior is like. 

Let’s take a closer look at spider monkeys. 

Why are Spider Monkeys called Spider Monkeys?

Spider monkeys are called spider monkeys because of their long and thin limbs! When they hang upside down from their tails, their arms and legs dangle, making them look like spiders. 

What does a Spider Monkey look like?

Spider monkeys are one of the largest monkey species of the New World. 

Their limbs are disproportionately large compared to their bodies, and as a result, we now call them spider monkeys. 

Spider monkeys have coarse hair all over their bodies that range from brown or black to a dull shade of gold. While it is rare, some spider monkeys have white fur. They have black and white feet and hairless faces. Some spider monkeys have flesh-colored rings around their eyes. They might also have white whiskers on their chins. 

These monkeys also have very small heads. An easy way to identify a spider monkey in the wild is to pay attention to their nostrils; this is because their nostrils are very apart from each other and help people identify them.  

Spider Monkey Hands

Unlike other species of monkeys, spider monkeys have only four fingers and no opposable thumbs. Their four fingers are extremely long and help them form hooks with their hands when they swing from branches. Their hands are hook-like with narrow palms. 

Do Spider Monkeys have thumbs?

No, spider monkeys do not have thumbs. If spider monkeys had thumbs on both hands, there’s a good chance that their thumbs would snag when swinging from branches and cause the monkey’s pain and even injury. 

How many legs does a monkey have?

Monkeys have two legs. If you want to be more specific, monkeys have four limbs, two of which act as legs. It is important to remember that monkeys cannot walk on their legs for a long time. 

Spider monkeys have four limbs, with two arms and two limbs. 

Spider Monkey Tail

Spider monkeys have prehensile tails. Prehensile means that their tail is able to grip branches easily. Their tails are muscular, extremely strong, and often act as an extra limb. In many cases, the spider monkey’s tail is longer than its body. 

These monkeys often use their tails when climbing trees or hunting for food. When the spider monkey is climbing a tree, it uses its tail as an extra limb to climb more quickly and to grip onto the branches tightly. When hunting for food, the spider monkey tends to use its tail to swing its body, leaving its hands free to collect food to eat. 

How Big Do Spider Monkeys Get?

The average height of a spider monkey is around 14-26 inches tall. Their typical weight is about 6-7kg. However, while the spider monkey’s bodies are not very tall or heavy, their tails are often much longer than their bodies. The average length of the spider monkey’s tail is around 28-34 inches, meaning that their tails help them in their daily lives. 

What do Spider Monkeys eat?

Spider monkeys mainly eat fresh, fleshy fruits most of the time. Scientists and researchers have discovered that spider monkeys can survive for extended periods of time on only a few kinds of fruits and nuts as well. They usually swallow the fruits whole. The fruits that spider monkeys eat typically come from the big trees in the forests that they live in. 

They tend to go out and hunt for food, then feed themselves from dawn until mid-morning, usually around 10 AM. Researchers have also found that a spider monkey’s diet alters their social and physical behavior, as well as their reproductive behavior. 

Spider monkeys also eat spiders, insects, honey, bird eggs, and leaves

When spider monkeys go hunting, a female usually leads the group. The female spider monkey is also responsible for locating sources of food. The group that she leads will split into smaller groups if she can’t find enough food for the whole group. Spider monkeys are territorial animals, which means they tend to hunt for food in their territory. The food hunting groups usually consist of four to nine members. If there are more than nine members, the group will spread out and cover more ground and locate more food sources.

Spider Monkey Teeth

Male spider monkeys can easily be identified by their long canine teeth

Where do Spider Monkeys Exist?

Spider monkeys are typically found in rainforests in South America, in regions close to the Amazon River. You could also find these monkeys in some areas of Southern Mexico and Brazil as well. 

Reproduction and Breeding in Spider Monkeys

When male and female spider monkeys want to mate, they use a method called anogenital sniffing. This means that they typically sniff each other’s genitals to make sure that their mate is ready to copulate and procreate. 

The average gestation period for a spider monkey lasts anywhere from 226-232 days. Female spider monkeys give birth to only one baby spider monkey every few years

After the spider monkey is born, the infants rely on their mothers until they are about ten months old. Male spider monkeys do not take part in raising their young.

Baby Spider Monkey

The mothers will carry their babies around their bellies for one month after giving birth. Once the infant is a month old, she will transfer it to her lower back. This allows the infant spider monkey to wrap its tail around its mother and hold onto her stomach. Mother spider monkeys are incredibly attentive and protective of their young, which is why they hold their offspring on their backs. 

Since female spider monkeys take care of their babies without any help from the male spider monkey, the infant spider monkeys learn how to swing from one tree to another. The mothers show them how to move around in the forest and often move tree branches closer together so that their children can cross from one branch to another easily.

Types of Spider Monkeys

There are quite a few types of spider monkeys. Scientists believe that they are related to woolly spider monkeys. Spider monkeys belong to the Atelidae family and the Ateles genus. Ateles means incomplete or imperfect, which refers to their incomplete and imperfect thumbs! 

Brown-Headed Spider Monkey

The brown-headed spider monkey is a subspecies of the black-headed spider monkey. Thanks to deforestation, these monkeys are a critically endangered species, which results in habitat loss and excessive hunting. 

They are often found in Ecuador and the western regions of the Andes mountains. 

The other different types of spider monkeys are: 

  • White-fronted spider monkey 
  • Brown spider monkey
  • Black-headed spider monkey 
  • Peruvian spider monkey
  • Red-faced spider monkey 
  • White-cheeked spider monkey 
  • Nicaraguan spider monkey 
  • Hooded spider monkey 
  • Mexican spider monkey 
  • Yucatan spider monkey 
  • Ornate spider monkey 

Spider Monkey Behaviour

When spider monkeys communicate with each other, they use various postures and stances to show how they feel. They also use different sounds to communicate. For example, if a spider monkey feels threatened by a predator, it will climb to the edge of the branch it sits on and shakes the branch to scare the predator or threat away. These monkeys often use their whole bodies to shake the tree branch to get rid of a threat. 

If a spider monkey sees a human nearing it, it will bark like a dog or growl. 

In some situations, when spider monkeys feel especially threatened, they will break off tree branches and drop them on or near the predators or threats. They also defecate and urinate on predators or intruders. 

Masters of Swinging

Spider monkeys use their four long fingers to swing from the trees they live on. Their hook-like hands and prehensile tails are what make them masters of swinging. Spider monkeys are also incredibly agile and nimble, and many have seen them jumping from one tree to another.  

Matriarchal Society

In some other animal species, it is usually the males who leave the group to join other groups or form new groups of their own. However, among the spider monkey species, the females typically leave the group to enter new ones when they hit puberty.  

Female spider monkeys also lead the groups when they go out to forage for food. Additionally, female spider monkeys form extremely close social bonds with their young. 

Social Animals 

Spider monkeys are very social animals that live in big groups consisting of 15-25 members. In some cases, their groups might consist of even 30-40 individuals as well. When spider monkeys go out to gather food, their larger group typically breaks down into smaller groups with two to seven members. Depending on the number of predators lurking nearby or the amount of food available, the groups will either interact or compete with each other. 

Nutrient Rich Feces

Spider monkeys have nutrient-rich feces. This is because their diets consist primarily of fruits that they eat whole. As a result, the seeds that they excrete become fertilized by their feces, thus helping with balancing out the ecosystems in the forests they live in. 

Are Spider Monkeys in Danger?

Unfortunately, they are. Most species of spider monkeys are in danger of becoming extinct, while others are considered to be endangered species. 

Main Threats to Spider Monkeys

Some of the main threats to spider monkeys include logging and rainforest destruction. In some regions, spider monkeys are also poached and hunted for meat. 

Spider Monkeys in Popular Culture

While Diddy Kong from the Donkey Kong franchise wasn’t explicitly referred to as a spider monkey, he was written into the game as a spider monkey! 

Fun facts about Spider Monkeys 

  1. Spider monkeys hug each other when they meet spider monkeys from different families as a show of affection, and so that they can avoid aggression and confrontation. 
  2. They are arboreal monkeys, which means that they spend their lives in the trees. 
  3. The groups that spider monkeys live in are called troops.

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