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Characteristics of the Central American Spider Monkey

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As its moniker suggests, the Central American spider monkey (Ateles geoffroyi) is a primate that inhabits Central America, including Belize, Guatemala, Costa Rica and Panama. Outside of Central America, these gregarious monkeys also reside in both Mexico and Colombia. They are also called the black-handed spider monkey and Geoffroy's spider monkey.


Central American spider monkeys are usually about 1 to 2 feet in body length, including their heads, notes the University of Michigan's Animal Diversity Web. They generally weigh just slightly over 16 pounds.


These diurnal animals appear in numerous different colors, such as brown, auburn, pale yellowish-beige and black. They typically have black feet and hands. Central American spider monkeys usually possess somewhat lighter undersides -- think yellowish-beige, red, light brown or whitish. Their faces are predominantly black, although their eyes are encircled by white.


Central American spider monkeys have extended tails, which actually exceed their bodies in the length department. Their tails are usually a minimum of 25 inches long. Since their tails are prehensile and can handily clutch onto things, these monkeys can employ them for a variety of activities, notably eating when dangling off of trees high up in the air.


Central American spider monkeys are companionable by nature, and usually remain in social units of around 30 others. When it comes to searching for food in trees, however, these nimble monkeys break off into more manageable troops. These troops usually consist of no more than six monkeys.


These monkeys usually eat in the morning hours. Central American spider monkeys are frugivorous and gravitate mostly toward mature fruit, which actually makes up roughly 83 percent of their full food intake, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature Red List of Threatened Species. Apart from fruit, they also consume flowers and tender foliage from time to time. Other less common components of their diet are eggs, bugs, nuts, honey, rotting wood and tree bark. On the occasions that they do feed on bugs, they typically opt for tiny caterpillars and termites.


These tree residents are found in a broad selection of forest types, including cloud forest, evergreen rain forest and semi-deciduous forest. They are drawn to moist rather than arid environments.


Female Central American spider monkeys usually bear offspring once every two to four years. Their pregnancies are rather long, and usually last for between 226 and 232 days. They only produce one youngster at a time. When it comes to rearing the little one, solely the mother is involved.