Spider monkeys are mammals belonging to the genus Ateles. On the ranking list of the most intelligent monkeys, it ranks in the third position after Orangutan and Chimpanzee. It is even slightly more intelligent than the gorillas.
We have listed some amazing spider monkey facts for kids in this article that will help you in getting to know more about these primates.
11 Most Exciting Facts about Spider Monkeys for Kids
Spider monkeys are New World monkeys that are crucial to some tree species for their growth. They are intelligent creatures who engage in behaviours that can be surprising for humans. They maintain harmony among themselves and are social animals.
Let us read more about what makes them a special monkey species.
1. Spider monkeys are intelligent
Spider monkeys are considered the third most intelligent non-human primate. They are the cleverest monkeys of the Americas according to several surveys done on these primates.
Behaviours such as hugging each other while meeting after a long time, living in groups to avoid threats from the predators and attacking the intruders together as a group demonstrates their level of intelligence.
Their intelligence has also inspired a certain type of computer algorithm known as a Spider Monkey Optimization Algorithm.
2. The reason for being called spider monkeys
The spider monkeys are called so because they have long limbs and powerful tails which helps them in moving from one tree to the other. The tail works as an additional limb while they are swinging across the tree branches.
They are often seen hanging upside down from the tree branches with the help of their long limbs and tail that looks just like spiders. They are diurnal animals and stay active during the day and sleep at night.
3. They are an important part of the ecosystem
While moving through the forest, they play a crucial role in the pollination of the trees. They are primarily fruit eaters and scatter fruit seeds throughout the forest which helps in the growth of the new trees.
Their faeces also help in fertilizing the forest floor, which is also helpful for the germination of the tree species. But with a cut down in the forest areas, they are losing their habitat. Their population is also reducing due to the hunting and pet trade.
4. The diet of the spider monkeys
They are primarily fruit eaters but when they can not find enough fruits then they eat flowers, leaves and insects as well. The group has a female leader who organizes the food hunt within the group.
If they can find enough food then they sit together and eat. But when the food resources are scarce the group tends to split up and feed themselves separately. They generally eat during the early morning hours but they can eat all day long whenever they wish to.
5. Spider monkeys are social animals
Spider monkeys are social animals who love to stay in groups. They meet and greet each other by hugging and call out to each other as well. They use scent marks of their urine and faeces, vocalizations, and body postures for communication among themselves.
On average, a single group consists of 15 – 25 individuals. The females and their offsprings have the closest bonds. The females disperse when they reach puberty and join new groups.
6. Spider monkeys avoid a quarrel
While feeding on a large tree, the spider monkeys tend to adjust and change their positions continuously to avoid coming too close to the other members of the group. This helps them to avoid any conflict among themselves as they are quarrelsome eaters.
Those spider monkeys who reaches late to the tree wait while the early ones are feeding themselves and enter only when the previous ones leave.
7. Spider monkeys are territorial
The spider monkeys tend to defend their territories. They mark their areas with secretions from their chest glands. They start shouting with screams, barks and throw branches and faeces at someone who tries to intrude into their territory.
The males along with one or two females start shouting and calling a larger group into the area for a group attack. The males threaten each other by chasing each other through the trees, throwing branches and growling. Females often do not indulge during this fight of males.
8. The baby spider monkeys
The female spider monkeys give birth after every 2 – 3 years. One spider monkey gives birth to only one baby spider and sometimes twins. The mothers are the sole caregivers of the baby spider monkeys. They carry them everywhere they go while hunting for food.
The babies cling to their mothers and when they are about 5 months old they start riding on the backs of their mothers wrapping their tails around the mother’s tail. The babies stay dependent on their mother’s milk for 2 years.
9. The habitats of the spider monkeys
Spider monkeys are natives of Central and South America. They prefer living in the rain forests and often inhabits the high canopies and rarely comes to the rainforest floor. They move through the trees while picking fruits and eating them right where they pick them.
They do not collect food for eating later. They can be found in evergreen rain forests, semi-deciduous forests, mangrove forests, lowland forests, and mountain forests.
10. They do not have thumbs
Unlike other primates, spider monkeys do not possess thumbs. They have only four fingers that act like hooks while they swing on the tree branches and move through them. They have a strong tail instead that acts as an extra limb to grip the tree branches.
These tails are so strong that they can hold the entire bodyweight of the spider monkey while they hang upside down from the trees like spiders. It helps them in picking fruits freely with their hands without worrying about falling.
11. Spider monkeys are endangered
Spider monkeys are a source of food for the indigenous people. The areas easily accessible to humans are the areas where the spider monkey population is decreasing rapidly. They are hunted because of their large size.
Spider monkeys are noisy and are known to travel in large groups. Hence they are very easy to locate by the hunters who also hunt them for the pet trade.
They are also affected by habitat destruction due to deforestation. They have a slow reproduction rate and hence are unable to cope up with the declining population.
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Different Types of Spider Monkeys
There are various types of spider monkeys found in the rain forests and are known by different names according to their looks and habitats. They are grouped into seven species and subspecies. We have listed the seven species of spider monkeys below.
- Black-faced black spider monkey lives in Peru, Brazil, and Bolivia. They have long tails that can be three feet long. They are relatively large monkeys among the species of monkeys.
- Brown-headed spider monkey inhabits in the areas west of the Andes Mountains. It is a subspecies of the black-headed spider monkey. They are critically endangered.
- Guiana spider monkeys are also known as red-faced spider monkeys or black spider monkeys. They are found in French Guiana, Guyana, Brazil, and Suriname.
- Brown spider monkey inhabits northern Columbia and northwestern Venezuela. They are also critically endangered species. They have long and thin limbs.
- Geoffroy’s spider monkey has longer arms than its legs. The males are relatively big in comparison to the females. They inhabit much of Central America.
- The white-bellied spider monkey is found in the northwestern Amazon in Columbia, Venezuela, Peru, Ecuador, and Brazil. They are also known as white-fronted or long-haired spider monkeys.
- White-cheeked spider monkeys are native to the Amazon Basin in Central Brazil. They are also called white-whiskered spider monkeys. They have white cheeks and forehead.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
They are called spider monkeys because of the way they hang from different trees with the help of their limbs and long tails looking just like the spiders.
The main diet of the spider monkeys include fruits but they can also be seen eating leaves, flowers, and insects.
The weight of the spider monkey ranges between 13 – 24 pounds.
The scientific name of the spider monkey is Ateles.
Spider monkeys are mammals.
Spider monkeys live in groups called troops.
The babies do not have any specific names. They are either called infants or just baby spider monkeys.
Spider monkeys are about 3 – 5 feet tall.
They have a body length of 14 – 26 inches along with tails that measure up to 35 inches.
They live in the tropical rain forests of Central and South America as well as in Mexico.
They move through the trees by swinging and jumping from branch to branch with the help of their limbs and tails.
They can run at a speed of 12 miles per hour.
They have a total of 4 fingers and no thumb.
They can live up to 27 years in the wild and about 33 years in captivity.
Spider monkeys are known for hugging each other when they meet.
Some of the spider monkey species can swim while the others can not.
The spider monkeys throw poop when they are threatened by predators or intruders.
They seem harmless but can become violent if anyone tries to captivate them. They can harm people in captivity by biting and choking them.
Large snakes, ocelots, jaguars, pumas and raptors, apart from the humans, are a threat to the spider monkeys.
They often stay in groups in the wild and give a call to a larger group when threatened so that they can attack the predators together.
All the seven species of spider monkeys are endangered with the black-headed and the brown spider monkey is critically endangered.
So these were the interesting spider monkey facts for kids. We hope that you had a fun time knowing about them and can now differentiate them from the rest of the monkey species.