Black-crowned Central American squirrel monkey

The black-crowned Central American squirrel monkey is arboreal and diurnal. It lives in groups containing several adult males, several adult females, and juveniles.


Scientific name: Saimiri oerstedii oerstedii

Saimiri oerstedii is a small, slender monkey with a long tail. Much of their body fur is yellow-brown in color with a pale yellow belly. Saimiri oerstedii can be distinguished from its sister species Saimiri sciureus because the crown of S. oerstedii is covered with black fur while that of S. sciureus is not. Also, S. oerstedii has golden-red colored fur on its back. 


Geographic range

Southern Costa Rica to northern Panama, only about 4000 square kilometers.


Tropical lowland forests. They prefer locations close to a source of water, with abundant low and mid-level vegetation.

This subspecies of squirrel monkeys are endangered due to habitat loss and fragmentation.


The lifespan of Black-crowned Central American squirrel monkey in captivity can be up to 25 years, in the wild it’s approximately up to maximum 15 years. This is because of the risk factors in the wild threatening survival, such as predators, diseases, and wound infections. 


They have an omnivorous diet and eat mostly fruits and insects; as well as eggs, frogs, flowers, bats, nuts, and nectar. Their diet adapts to whatever they can find in different environments.


They have an egalitarian social system.
Arboreal and diurnal.

They are no dominant hierarchy among females, and they don’t form coalitions.

Males in the group are usually related to each other and have very close bonds.

Fun facts

  • Proportionally, they have the largest brain of all primates (brain mass to body mass ratio of 1:17.
  • They rarely descend to the ground.
  • Young squirrel monkeys are very independent, which negatively affects them, and only around 50% of infants survive more than six months.


The gestation period lasts 160 days. Seasons influence their mating, with females giving birth during the peak of the rainy season, to endure an abundance of food.

Adult females leave their natal groups, and males remain in their natal groups for life.