One of the most gracious animals you'll find in the jungles of Central America and probably the one most travelers love to see in the wild are the capuchin monkeys. The capuchin monkeys are New World monkeys of the subfamily Cebinae and here are a few facts about them:
What do they eat? These mammals are omnivores. They normally feed on buds, seeds, fruits, nuts but also consume bird’s eggs, spiders, small invertebrates and other insects. They also love to wander by the water where they can find crabs and shellfish. They are very intelligent creatures who use tools such as stones to crack open nuts, shellfish and crabs, watch them in action in the video below!
How long do they live? They live up to 45 years in captivity while in the wild their lifespan is about 15 to 20 years. The males reach maturity after 4 years while the females become mature after 8 years. The females have babies normally every two years following a gestation period of 160 to 180 days. Baby capuchins stay with their mother for the first few years to learn to survive. They normally grow to 12-22 inches.
Where do they live? Capuchin monkeys occupy the wet lowland forests on the Caribbean coast of Costa Rica and Panama and can also be found in the dry deciduous forests on the Pacific coast. Although, their habitat extends from northern Colombia to Belize. In Costa Rica and Panama, they can live in habitats up to 1,500m (5,000 feet) in elevation and 2,000m (6,600ft) in Colombia.
What are their main predators? Their potential predators are wild cats, coyotes, snakes, raptors, tayras, crocodiles, and jaguarundis. Among raptors, the harpy eagle is the only bird that preys on the capuchin monkey.
How do capuchin monkeys communicate?
They are very vocal animals that scream, whistle, and bark. In this way, they can call each other in order to maintain contact and express dislike if someone or something is disturbing them.
Why were they named capuchin monkeys? They were named by explorers after the color resemblance to an order of Catholic friars. The Order of Friars Minor Capuchin wore dark brown robes and had white beards. The white-headed capuchin (Cebus capucinus) is also known as the white-faced capuchin or white-throated capuchin.
Costa Rica in particular is a great place to observe capuchin monkeys in their natural environment, not only on the Caribbean coast but also on the Pacific you will find big troops of these amazing creatures in the parks and around your hotel and lodges. I invite you to watch this short video from the BBC, this is exactly the way you can enjoy them in the wild on a Wildland adventure vacation to Costa Rica and learn more about their behavior.
Grettel (Usha) Calderon