Spider Monkey

The supreme acrobat of the Costa Rican jungle is the spider monkey.  The long, slender, spider-like limbs of these animals earned them their name.  It is the prehensile tail of the spider monkey, however, that sets it apart from the other primates found in Costa Rica.  In fact, spider monkeys can dangle from their tail alone and are also able to pick up items with their tails.  This specialized tail is longer than the combined length of the spider monkey's head and body and the underside of tail is ridged, much like a human fingerprint, for added grip.  Often, spider monkeys will use their tails when foraging for fruits in the forest canopy to help them reach items on nearby branches. 

photo M. Noonan

When feeding, spider monkeys generally tend to swallow seeds whole.  This therefore allows the spider monkey to be a vital seed disperser for a variety of plant species.  So, how do you find a spider monkey in the forest?  Generally, they find you first!  In many cases, spider monkeys will "bark" when they feel threatened and often throw branches, jump up and down, and shake tree limbs when approached by unaware humans.


CAC is a program of the Institute for the Study of Human-Animal Relations at Canisius College in Buffalo, NY.