The Red-faced spider monkey is a species of spider monkey that lives in South America. These monkeys have long, black hair and a red or pink face that is bare except for a few short, white hairs. Infants are born with dark faces, which lighten as they age. Red-faced spider monkeys have a prehensile (capable of grasping) tail and their fingers and limbs are long, agile and strong.
Red-faced spider monkeys are found in northern South America. They live in northern Brazil, Suriname, Guyana, and French Guiana. Red-faced spider monkeys inhabit undisturbed primary rainforests.
Red-faced spider monkeys are arboreal animals. Because of their ability to climb and jump, they tend to live in the upper layers of the trees and forage in the high canopy. These monkeys are social and associate with large groups of up to 30 individuals during the night, but choose to spend the days traveling, foraging, and resting in much smaller groups. At dusk, they recongregate using a greeting call to communicate. At night, they often sleep in large groups called bands. Bands typically consist of several females, with their respective young, along with a few males for protection. Red-faced spider monkeys communicate with each other vocally by using grunts, screams, whistles, and barks, which warn others of predators or places where food can be found. Visual communication includes scratching their chests, shaking tree branches, throwing objects from trees, nodding their heads, and swinging their arms.
Red-faced spider monkeys are herbivores (frugivores, folivores). They feed primarily on a very wide variety of fruits, which comprise most of their diet. They also will eat young leaves and flowers, young seeds, floral buds, roots, bark and honey. Sometimes Red-faced spider monkeys may eat small insects such as termites and caterpillars.
Red-faced spider monkeys are polygynandrous (promiscuous), which means that both males and females have many partners during every breeding season. Females give birth to 4 infants every 3 to 4 years. The gestation period lasts around 226-232 days. During the first 2-3 months of life, infants cling to their mother's body and later from 6-9 months of age, young ride on their mother's backs. At 10 months infants begin to explore their environment independently, however, they still spend most of their time near their mother. At 15-18 months of age, infants begin to travel independently from their mother. Red-faced spider monkeys become reproductively mature at 4 to 5 years of age. Males often stay in their natal group but females leave to find potential mates and may return to their natal group to give birth to their offspring.
The main threats to Red-faced spider monkeys include hunting and habitat loss. These monkeys have a very slow reproductive rate giving birth to infants only every 3-4 years which affects the decline of their populations even more.
The IUCN Red List and other sources don’t provide the number of the Red-faced spider monkey total population size. Currently, this species is classified as Vulnerable (VU) on the IUCN Red List and its numbers today are decreasing.
Due to their frugivorous diet, these monkeys disperse seeds of various plants they consume. This way they highly benefit the local ecosystem.