Monkey Forest Tales: Other interactions between Colombian squirrel monkeys and other primates

Today post is the second in a series of two post about interactions between primate species observed in the study area. Over the years I have spent most of my time in the study area with Colombian squirrel monkeys (Saimiri cassiquiarensis albigena) than with any other primate species and during that time I have observed this species interacting with other primate species in the forest fragments in which they live. Most of these interactions have been friendly (affiliative behaviors). In this post I will describe some short interactions between squirrel monkeys and red howler monkeys (Alouatta seniculus), and dusky titi monkeys (Plecturocebus ornatus). In continuous areas interactions between these species are rare, except on big fig trees and in most cases both red howler monkeys and dusky titi monkeys leave the fig tree when the squirrel monkeys arrive.

Interactions with red howler monkeys: the first interaction I want to share is a play interaction between a juvenile male of red howler monkeys and a group of juveniles and subadults of squirrel monkey. Red howler monkeys were resting on a big tree, while squirrel monkeys were eating and searching insects around them, going around on the ground, some on the top of big trees, some on the middle branches and others on the lower branches. Most of the juveniles of squirrel monkeys were playing around, chasing each other. Then between the juvenile group of squirrel monkeys there were a juvenile red howler monkeys chasing them, there were not aggressive sound of any of the two species. The squirrel monkeys were chasing him and then he chase them in a playful way. Even with the howler going to the ground after them and then going back up when she saw me. The interaction last around 15 minutes and no aggression were seen between the two species.

The second interaction occur over several years in a small fragment (± 5 ha) where a group of howlers live and was joined by a solitary male for several years. Feeding, moving and even sleeping in the same tree that the red howler group were resting. The squirrel monkey was seen living with this group for several years after he disappear. The squirrel monkey male was rarely seen alone during those years. Most of the time this individual was observed alone, he was feeding on insects on the back of the forest fragments, a flooded area of the fragment with small trees and dense vines. A couple of years after another solitary male of squirrel monkey was seen again with that group of howler monkeys. Could this be a way to avoid predation for the squirrel monkey male? Why does squirrel monkeys remain alone for several years instead of be part of a bachelor group?

Interactions with dusky titi monkeys: Most of these interactions are short in duration as some of the dusky titi monkeys in the fragment seems to avoid the squirrel monkey groups. However, sometimes you can observe a couple of squirrel monkey females eating in the same big tree where a dusky titi monkey group is feeding. Most of these interactions occurs when the squirrel monkey group is moving and feeding at a slow pace, while the dusky titi monkeys are just feeding.

Dusty titi monkeys usually avoid squirrel monkey groups when those ones are joined by a capuchin monkey group, which dusky titi monkeys seems to avoid as much as possible in the study area. This avoidance is probably a product of the potential predation risk that capuchin monkeys represent for dusky titi monkey. There is one report of capuchin monkeys feeding on a red-bellied titi monkey (Callicebus moloch; Sampaio & Ferrari 2005) and they had also been observed consuming a Brumback nigh monkey in the study area (Aotus brumbacki; Carretero et al 2008).


Carretero-Pinzón X., Defler T.R. and Ferrari, S. F. 2008. Observation of Black-Capp ed Capuch ins (Cebus apella) Feeding on an Owl Monkey (Aotus brumbac ki) in the Colombian Llanos. Neotropical Primates 15(2): 62 – 63.

Sampaio, D. T. and Ferrari, S. F. 2005. Predation of an infant titi monkey (Callicebus moloch) by tufted capuchins (Cebus apella). Folia Primatologica 76:113– 115

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