Spider monkey

About the Spider Monkey

Spider monkeys  are your prototypical primate. They have long limbs, longer tails, small heads and are very acrobatic. They hang from their tails while eating fruit and can leap from branch to branch in what seems like short bursts of flight. Their call is a sonorous yelp – wail.

Spider monkeys (Ateles chamek), the largest monkeys in the region, are great indicators of the quality of the forest.  When present, they are hard to miss. Because they are large (about 10 kilos), forage in the canopy (35 meters) and eat lots of fruit, they require expansive tracts of undisturbed primary forest. Forests with resident spider monkeys are very healthy and will have a diverse plant and animal community.

At Tambopata Research Center, you have a 67% chance to see them.

The black spider monkeys are typically moving between areas of patchy food resources –fruits, and sometimes flowers– within the high strata of lowland forests. Social grooming usually occurs between females and their offspring rather than between mates. Individuals with long pale genitalia are the females!

Spider monkey in tree.
Spider monkey in tree.

As mentioned, the presence of spider monkeys means that the forests that host are healthy. It probably means they will also host smaller monkeys, macaws, jaguar, giant anteater, white-lipped peccary, tapir, etc. However, some specific species may be present or absent because of the historical quirks of the location. For example, a disease may have extinguished the local white-lipped peccary population. Large river dolphins are only present in the Ecuador and around Iquitos and Manaus because of there.

How to spot a Spider Monkey:

  • The spider monkey is a large all-black monkey with very long limbs and a long prehensile tail held above the animal in an S-shape when not gripping branches.
  • They have a rounded head, pale pinky snout and eyes surrounded by a thin circle without hair
  • Their fur is distinctly jet-black, and not dark brown


As Seen in

National Geographic
The Huffington Post
yahoo News
Popular Science