Monkey Forest Tales: A day in the life of a Colombian squirrel monkey group

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Today post is the second in the series of posts about a day in the life of a group of monkeys. This time we are going to join a group of Colombian squirrel monkeys (Saimiri cassiquiarensis albigena). This squirrel monkeys live in large groups of 25 – 50 individuals, with several males, females and juveniles and immatures of different age. They are small monkeys with long, thin tails to help them balance when they jump. They have a gray body and while belly, their mouths are surrounded by a black patch that make they faces look like a mask of white and black face tones. Our group has 32 individuals: 4 males, 8 females, 3 sub adults, 10 juveniles of different age and 8 infants.

Our group started their day around 5:30 am when the sun was rising, it start with some movements from the juveniles and females, they just start moving looking for some insects to catch, looking under dead and live leaves, removing some small branches, just searching. Babies were in their mothers back, a couple of them taking some milk from their mom, while they trying to catch some insects.

All the group members start eating fruits of several trees around the palms where they spend the night, others search for insects. All babies are on the backs of their mothers. It’s the end of March and it’s finally starting to rain a little bit. Soon the forest will be full of fruits and more insects will be around.

Juveniles start chasing between them, running and jumping from branch to branch. The game is simple, one start chasing the others, when one individual is catch, his tail is pulled and that individual start chasing the rest of the juveniles. There is a lot of screams from the juveniles playing around. Then the females start moving a bit faster still searching for insects, they seems to have a direction, a couple of males are in the front with the females and the other males are in the back with the subadults, all males.

Finally, they stop, the group is in the border of the forest, some individuals are searching for insects, others are eating small purple fruits, and some are just looking at the sky and on the ground. They seems to be looking for any sign of danger. Nothing is on sight. They can move again.

Then, some of the males and females start going down, they are on the ground going outside of the forest to a big fig tree. The tree is full of small reddish fruits. All the group members are on the big fig tree, some of the males keep looking at the sky at the same time they are eating. A female scream, other female just reach her spot and claimed to be hers. A bit of chasing and then all come back to normal, just enjoying the sweet fig fruits. An hour have pass and it’s almost noon.

Some of the juveniles and males start moving again to the forest fragment. Crossing the small gap between the fig tree and the forest, around 100 m. Running on the ground. A couple of juveniles stay on the ground catching insects and playing around at the forest edge, hiding between some vines.

Then the females move back to the forest. Some of them, just relax, they lay down in pairs on the top, wide branches of a big tree, close to the forest edge. The air is hot, humid, the sun it’s in his highest point. Half an hour later, the whole group start moving fast again. Jumping from one branch to the other. Occasionally one individual catch a spider. After a while they found a clump of Anime trees, it’s open red skin shows the sweet white pulp. Fruits are ready to be eaten. Females start eating them, while juveniles start playing again. A couple of subadult are searching for insects near to the ground. The group disperse to eat. There are animals moving all around.

It’s around 5 pm and the movement starts again, slowly. They move, and eat some fruits and insects, not stopping, they have a direction again. Suddenly, they are in a thick part of the forest, surrounded by vines a couple of tall trees with vines seems to be the place to spend the night. The first ones to enter are the females, they sit together, babies in the middle. Juveniles are still playing, chasing each other and screaming. Some males are still eating insects near to the top of a big tree. The sun is hiding and almost all movements stops. They are ready to spend the night on those trees. It’s almost 6:30 pm and the sun is gone.

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