Black-handed Spider Monkey
Black-handed Spider Monkey
Izzy & Chiquita
15-27″ Tall with 23-29″ Tail
30-40 years in captivity (27 in the wild)
Primarily herbivores. 90% of the diet is fruit and nuts.
Mexico to Panama with some populations reported in Colombia.
Prefer the middle and upper canopy of the forests.
These agile monkeys exhibit a range of coat colors: from tawny and reddish to almost black. As the name implies their hands (and their feet) are black. Their 6- 8 kg body is easily supported by a single limb or by their prehensile tail. His tail is extremely long compared to his body, having its own measurement of 635 to 830 mm, and the arms are proportionately long as well, which is probably where the common name Spider Monkey came from. The head is small with a large muzzle and often the face and area around the eyes is not darkly pigmented. The tail is also used for swinging and to pick up objects.
The monkeys are diurnal with feeding typically done in the morning hours. Spider monkeys have no thumbs, so their grasping is done with four fingers. They travel through the trees as fast as a man can run on the ground, using a method of locomotion called brachiation: arm over arm swinging through the branches. This tail functions as a fifth arm. The underside of the tail has no hair and is lined with ridges much like our own fingertips. This gives the monkey a good grip and keeps him from slipping. The ridges also increase traction in the tail tip for picking up small objects. Spider monkeys use their tail just as they use their hands. The tail also aids in balance and can support the monkey’s entire body if it wishes to “dangle,” leaving the hands and feet free. When the sun goes down, spider monkeys make a long call. It is usually emitted by the males only and can be heard up to 500 meters away. The long call also serves as an alarm call. When an intruder comes near a spider monkey, the monkey comes down to the lower branches, breaks off branches, and throws them at the intruder’s head. They also make threat sounds sounding like a bark, growl, and a coughing noise when trying to frighten the intruder away. The monkeys usually have an open mouth with tooth exposure during these situations, too.
Females actively choose their own mates, sometimes spending the whole mating season with one male. Spider monkeys give birth at any time of the year. Usually one baby is born after a gestation period of about 4 ½ months. The mother will carry her baby close to her chest until it is old enough to travel on her back. Monkeys can give birth at age 60-90 months. They can also give birth every 17-45 months. The typical life span of a black-handed spider monkey is 27 years.