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Interesting Facts About the Common Squirrel Monkey

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The common squirrel monkey (Saimiri sciureus) is a South American animal that lives in many different parts of the continent, from French Guiana and Venezuela to Brazil, Ecuador and a handful of other countries. Common squirrel monkeys are nimble tree dwellers that typically inhabit rainforest, wetland, marsh, savanna and mangrove settings. These loud New World monkeys are awake and alert during the daytime.

Lack of Male Parenting

Although males of some other species of New World monkeys -- think owl monkeys -- are hands-on parents, common squirrel monkey fathers are completely uninvolved with their youngsters' upbringing. The mothers raise the little ones by themselves.

Arboreal Monkeys

It's rare to spot a common squirrel monkey on the forest floor. They're usually up in the trees, which is also where they look for sustenance. Common squirrel monkeys are off the ground for more than 99 percent of their lives, according to Utah's Hogle Zoo.

Weight Gain and Breeding

When female common squirrel monkeys choose the fathers of their future offspring, they go for the biggest male members of their social units, indicates the Happy Hollow Park and Zoo. Because of this, male common squirrel monkeys prepare to win the females over by packing on the pounds beforehand.

Bathing in Urine

Common squirrel monkeys sometimes rub urine all over their bodies. This action serves a variety of different purposes, including both cooling off and helping other unit members track them down. The practice also spreads the monkeys' individual scents all over their home turfs.


Common squirrel monkeys also often rub remnants of food into their tails, as well. This action also serves to help these primates locate each other. If a common squirrel monkey's tail is particularly pungent, for example, it may be a lot easier for other members of his unit to find him.

Unit Size

Common squirrel monkeys are gregarious and social primates, and their units sometimes consist of more than 200 individuals, indicates the Bristol Zoo. In general, however, the units range between 20 and 35 monkeys. During the nighttime, common squirrel monkeys as sleep in close proximity to each other. When it comes time to feed, however, they branch out into smaller groups.