Capuchin Monkey

White-faced Capuchin

Capuchin monkeys are not only found in forests but also in coastal areas, where they live in mangroves and forage in the mud at low tide.

The white-faced, or white-throated, capuchin ranges from Honduras in Central America and south to the Pacific coast of Colombia. It occupies well-developed rainforests with dense canopies and little undergrowth. This intelligent and adaptable species also lives in mangroves and drier, more open forests.

Capuchin monkeys are characterized by white fur around the face, as well as on the chest and upper arms. Unlike most New World monkeys, the thumb is opposable and is used to hold a range of foods.

Capuchin monkeys have a cap of dark hair on the head that resembles the hood, or capuche, worn by friars. The tail is slightly prehensile, but it is not the “fifth limb” of certain New World monkeys. The tail is carried coiled up - hence the nickname ringtail. White-faced capuchin monkeys live in groups of about 12 individuals. The females in a group are all related, but the males are drawn from different troops. Upon maturity, males are driven away by older males and presumably join other troops. A troop splits if it grows too large for its territory. The two new, smaller groups are able to locate food more easily.

Living in groups that can consist of up to 30 individuals, these capuchin monkeys occupy the lower understorey of the forest. They engage in regular grooming both of themselves and other members of the troop, mainly using their hands. They have also been observed rubbing themselves with certain leaves, possibly as a way of deterring parasites. The young are cared for by various females in the group, rather than just their own mothers.

Distribution: Range extends from Belize in Central America southwards into South America, where they can be found in northern and western parts of Colombia.

Habitat: Montane forest.

Weight: 2.6 - 5.5 kg (5.742 lb); males are heavier.

Length: 74 - 96 cm (29 - 38 in) overall; tail is longer than the body.

Maturity: 5 - 6 years.

Gestation Period: About 150 days; births coincide with the wet season.

Breeding: 1; twins are rare; weaning takes place by 2 years.

Diet: Fruit and invertebrates, plus leaves and flowers.

Lifespan: Up to 44 years in captivity.

Status: Common.

Tail

The prehensile nature of the tail allows the monkey to use it rather like another hand.

Fur

This is dense and is predominantly black all over the body.

Facial features

The skin on the face is pink and the surrounding fur is white.

Ears

These are relatively large and flattened on the sides of the head. They are not hidden by hair.

FOOD AND DRINK

Capuchin monkeys come down to the ground to collect fruit and may drink by using their hands to scoop up water.

Capuchin monkeys as a group are named after the Capuchin friars; the distinctive black head of the different species resembles that of the monks’ cowls.

White-fronted Capuchin

Size: 33 - 44 cm (13 - 17.5 in); 1.1 - 3.3 kg (2.5 - 7.25 lb).

Superficially similar to the white-faced capuchin, this monkey is found to the south of its relative. The ranges of the two species may overlap in northern Colombia and Ecuador, but the white-fronted capuchin monkey is more likely to be found at lower altitudes in well-developed rainforest. This capuchin monkeys eats mainly fruit, along with insects and other arthropods. Troops contain 15 - 35 members, and are dominated by a single breeding pair.

Brown Capuchin

Capuchin monkeys are sometimes called ring-tails. This is because they often curl the tip of their semi-prehensile tail into a ring. Capuchin monkeys are among the most intelligent and adaptable of all monkeys. They are found in a wide range of habitats, from dense jungles to towns and cities. Some even live on the seashore, where they collect crabs. Capuchin monkeys sometimes break open hard nuts by pounding them with stones - an example of animals using tools.

This species lives in troops of about 12 monkeys. Most troops have a single adult male, who fathers all the children. The monkeys chatter and squeak a great deal, telling each other of their location and warning of danger. Since they lack a set breeding season, capuchin mothers may give birth to their single babies at any time of the year. Each young capuchin initially clings to its mother’s chest, then rides on her back until it becomes more independent.

Like some other capuchin species, brown capuchin monkeys have a cap of dark hair on the top of their heads, with thick tufts or "horns" above the ears.

Distribution: From Colombia to Paraguay.

Habitat: Rainforest.

Food: Fruit, nuts, flowers, bark, gums, insects and eggs.

Size: 30 - 56 cm (12 - 22 in); 1.1 - 3.3 kg (2.5 - 7.25 lb).

Maturity: Females 4 years; males 8 years.

Breeding: Single young born throughout the year.

Life span: 32 years.

Status: Lower risk.

Weeping Capuchin

These capuchin monkeys live across the whole of tropical South America east of the Andes Mountains. They are most commonly found in the forests typical of the drier fringes of the Amazon Basin. Weeping capuchin monkeys live in the lower reaches of these forests, and can sometimes even be seen searching for food in the deep leaf litter on the forest floor. When a predator threatens, the capuchins take refuge on high branches.

Weeping capuchin monkeys live in large groups of about 20 individuals. There is one ruling male in each troop who mates with all the female members. Other males in the troop may sneak an occasional mating, but this is rare. A female usually gives birth to a single young, which clings to its mother’s fur with its hands and feet soon after being born. She nurses the youngster for several months.

The tail of the weeping capuchin is only semi-prehensile, unlike many other capuchin species, which have more dextrous tails. The tail is often carried with the section near the tip coiled up.

These monkeys use their dextrous hands to manipulate a wide range of foods. Weeping capuchin monkeys appear to use a certain species of millipede to repel unwanted biting insects. They squash the millipedes against their skin, releasing a toxin from the crushed bodies that keeps insects away.

Distribution: South America.

Habitat: Forests.

Food: Fruits, palm, nuts, insects, spiders and small vertebrates.

Size: 35 - 50 cm (14 - 20 in); 2.5 - 2.8 kg (5.5 - 6.25 lb).

Maturity: 4 - 7 years.

Breeding: 1 young born every 2 years.

Life span: 35 years.

Status: Common.

Gallery of Capuchin Monkey