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Spider Monkey

Updated on February 24, 2016

Genus Ateles


 One of the fun species of Monkeys out there is called the Spider Monkey. They get this name due to the very long limbs that resemble the characteristics of a Spider. There are 7 sub species out there and they all belong to the New World of Monkeys. This is the largest Monkey that belongs to this particular class. They are often used for experiments in labs due to the fact that they are very closely related to humans.


 The body of the Spider Monkey is completely covered with thick hair. The only part of the body that isn’t covered is the face. They can be found in various colors which is why it can be hard to identify them. Some of them are red, orange, gold, brown, black, or white. They can be light in color or dark depending on where they live and their particular species.

What you won’t find with the Spider Monkey are opposable thumbs. They are one of the few species of Monkeys that don’t have these particular characteristics. They have a very long tail too. When they are full grown they are up to 20 pounds. They can use their long tail to grasp and move items.

The overall look of the Spider Monkey is one that many people are fearful of. They don’t view this Monkey as one that they would like to have around. However, other people are fascinated by them and what to have something very unique as a pet. These are extremely fast Monkeys and agile even with those thin limbs that may often look like they are awkwardly dangling.


 Why is it that this particular species of Monkey doesn’t feature opposable thumbs? It seems that evolution failed to help them out in this particular area. Yet they have been able to do very well with out it. They have been able to continually adapt to changes in their environment. It is believed that they were removed from Cuba and Spain by the Native Americans.

It is very hard to connect the dots too when it comes to the ancestry of the Spider Monkey. Their dental records are different now than they were millions of years ago. However, those fossil remains aren’t giving us the answers that many think they should. This is because the diet of this Monkey has changed with a new environment. That would account for the changed in dental and not the process of evolution.


 Without the Spider Monkey spreading seeds around the forest then there wouldn’t be as much vegetation in place for them and other animals to benefit from. They are able to spread the seeds from fruits, plants, and flowers. They consume food whole and then the seeds are dropped from their bodies as they move around their home range.

There is a dominant female in the groups of these Monkeys, and they have up to 35 members in them. The number though will depend on what their quality of life is. When there is little food and a small range then the numbers stay low. When they have lots of food and location then it can be at the higher end.

The dominant female will keep a very good eye on all of this. They want to make sure the highest number of members can survive. Should there be a large group but living conditions get worse then she will break them up into several smaller groups. There can be lots of conflict within these groups.

Many experts have attempted to understand the communication style for the Spider Monkey. They are very vocal and use that to help them make connections. Their sounds help them to warn each other of dangers, to deal with conflicts, for mating purposes, and very often for interacting with their young.

Spider Monkey Video

Habitat and Distribution

 The Southern part of Mexico and all over Brazil are home for the Spider Monkey. They enjoy areas of vast rainforest with a huge canopy over them. They do desire the wet areas but those aren’t always readily available. In some locations they have had to adapt to the dry areas in order to be able to survive.

These Monkeys also look for regions that haven’t been disturbed. Those are harder and harder to come by these days. With humans getting into areas around the rainforest often there aren’t many of those locations left. Yet the unsettling of an area can be more than enough to get a group of Spider Monkeys to relocate.

These Monkeys seem to do very well in captivity. In fact, they are often added to zoos in order to bring more people to them. Most children and adults enjoy watching these types of primates when they have the opportunity to do so.

Diet and Feeding Habits

 Almost all of the food that the Spider Monkey will consume is some type of fruit. When they can’t find it they will consume sap from the trees. They may use their fingernails to remove dry wood. Then they can get to the moist materials inside of it. They are very good at manipulating their home range though to get to the various fruits when they are at their best.

The dominant female decides where they will feed and what they will eat. The group follows her lead – if she will eat something then they will too. However, if she decides to pass it over they are going to do the same thing.

Information about Spider Monkeys


 For these Monkeys the mating season really depends on when they have lots of food. When they are barely getting by they are less likely to take part in the mating process. This can be a problem when it comes to decreased populations in certain areas for the Spider Monkey.

Not all mature males in a group are going to be able to find a mate. The females make the final decision. She may turn away several males before she accepts one of them. It isn’t fully known what she will base her decision upon. It takes about 2 months after mating for the young to arrive. Twins do occasionally occur but most of the time there is only one born at a time.

The young will cling to their mothers for about 10 months. They will drink milk her body creates. Over time they will start to learn to find food on their own. Then they are about 3 years old though they have to leave the group. They must go create a new one or they have to find one they can join. Females can usually find one to join but males are often forced to start a new one.


 Some predators out there can be problematic for the Spider Monkey. They include various types of birds such as the Eagle. They are more likely to prey on the young though than those who are fully mature. There are different types of snakes that live in these trees too. The Spider Monkey can sometimes have concerns with the Jaguar as well.

Humans cause problems for them by destroying habitat. There are times when large numbers of them are captured too. They are used for studies and lab tests. They are also sold as pets.


Submit a Comment

  • Didge profile image


    6 years ago from Southern England

    Great hub laurentmikhail, like it!

  • profile image


    6 years ago

    Very disappointed that absolutely no credit is ever given to God when it comes to science. Evolution failed them by not giving them opposable thumbs?! How about the amazing creator designed them that way, and as the article stated they have done amazing without them. To God be the glory for this amazing creature, yet another masterpiece of his.

  • lindatymensky profile image


    7 years ago

    Thanks for this informative and sensitive article on these wonderful creatures! Linda

  • Hello, hello, profile image

    Hello, hello, 

    7 years ago from London, UK

    Thank you for reading and learning from your comprehensive hub.


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