The Online Library of Knowledge

Mammals

Spider monkey

Spider monkeySpider monkey The spider monkey spends almost its entire life life high above the ground in the trees of the Central and South American rainforest. A social animal, it lives in bands of about 20 individuals, on average. Its favourite food is fruit, but it will also eat leaves, shoots, flowers, birds’ eggs and even bark, which it strips off with its teeth. With the help of its flexible shoulders, its hands and legs, and above all, its long tail, it swings through the branches with ease. It will often leap between gaps in the trees.

Geoffroy's spider monkeyGeoffroy's spider monkey
A spider monkey's tailA spider monkey's tail

Tail

The spider monkey uses its hands, legs and especially its prehensile tail to grasp branches as its makes its way through the trees. Near its tip, the tail has no fur on the underside. Instead, it has the same sort of skin as on the monkey's hands—perfect for gripping.

A spider monkey moves through the tree.A spider monkey moves through the tree.A spider monkey dangles from a branch to drink.A spider monkey dangles from a branch to drink.The tail also helps the monkey to balance when leaping between branches and when walking and climbing high above ground. It is longer than its arms or legs so it can reach further with it, enabling it to travel through the trees far more quickly than if it just relied on its other limbs.

The tail is strong enough to take the monkey's entire weight. It enables it to reach places that would be impossible without it, such as when it dangles from a branch to drink without touching the ground. It also leaves its hands free for picking fruit.
 



 

Spider monkeys are so-called because of their long arms, legs and tail.

© 2019 Q-files Ltd. All rights reserved. Switch to Mobile