Black-Capped Capuchin

Black-Capped Capuchin

Tufted capuchin, Brown capuchin, Pin monkey

Sapajus apella
Population size
Life Span
25-45 years
kg lbs 
cm inch 

The tufted capuchin (Sapajus apella ), also known as brown capuchin, black-capped capuchin, or pin monkey is a New World primate from South America and the Caribbean islands of Trinidad and Margarita. As traditionally defined, it is one of the most widespread primates in the Neotropics, but it has recently been recommended considering the black-striped, black and golden-bellied capuchins as separate species in a new genus, thereby effectively limiting the tufted capuchin to the Amazon basin and nearby regions. However, the large-headed capuchin (S. a. macrocephalus ), previously defined as a distinct species, has been reclassified as a subspecies of the tufted capuchin, expanding its range east to Peru & Ecuador and south to Bolivia.

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The tufted capuchin is an omnivorous animal, mostly feeding on fruits and invertebrates, although it sometimes feeds on small vertebrates (e.g. lizards and bird chicks) and other plant parts. It can be found in many different kinds of environment, including moist tropical and subtropical forest, dry forest, and disturbed or secondary forest.

Like other capuchins, it is a social animal, forming groups of 8 to 15 individuals that are led by an alpha or dominant male.

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The Black-capped or tufted capuchin is a species of primates with a long, thick tail and lean body. The capuchin is very prompt, wrapping its tail around branches of trees and thus using it as a “fifth limb”. The coat of the Black-capped capuchin is mainly dark brown. The color of their face varies from white to pink while the hair on their back is relatively shorter and darker than the rest of their body. The fur is creamy with light tan on their shoulders, neck and face.



Generally, habitats in which they live include different types of forests. They are found in tropical rainforests at the altitude of up to 2700 meters as well in open forests. The area of their habitat is a huge territory, covering Amazon rainforest of the Guyanas, Venezuela and Brazil, stretching west from the Rio Negro and reaching the Orinoco in Venezuela. The habitat of Black-capped capuchins also includes eastern part and upper Andean Magdalena valley of Colombia as well as certain areas of Ecuador, Bolivia and Peru. In addition, they have been successfully introduced to Trinidad and Tobago: currently, there’s a population of Black-capped capuchins in the northeastern peninsula of Trinidad Island.

Black-Capped Capuchin habitat map

Climate zones

Black-Capped Capuchin habitat map

Habits and Lifestyle

Black-capped capuchins are diurnal. They are arboreal animals, moving quadrupedally by leaping and climbing. They are highly sociable primates, usually congregating in groups of 8-15 individuals. Social grooming is a usual activity between members of a group. The dominant male is the leader of the group, protecting it from predators as well other groups of monkeys; as soon as another group invades its home range, the dominant male leads the defense of the territory. As it comes to food and mating, the dominant male is privileged, having the right of first choice. Even in case of food shortage, when the group finds a new source of food, the dominant male always eats first.

Seasonal behavior

Diet and Nutrition

The capuchins are omnivores, they feed upon fruit, leaves and insects. In addition, they skillfully break nuts, catch frogs and small birds. It’s even believed that the Black-capped capuchins consume small mammals.

Mating Habits

births occur mainly in dry season and during early rainy season
150-160 days
1 infant
9 months

The capuchins are polygamous, having a mating system where females mate primarily with the dominant male of the group. There’s no specific breeding season for the Black-capped capuchin. However, births take place mainly in dry season and during early rainy season. The period of gestation lasts 150-160 days, after which a female usually gives birth to a single baby (very rarely – twins). Parental care is generally left to the female, who feeds the young for 9 months. For several months after birth, the infant travels, clung to the fur of its mother. Males reach sexual maturity at 7 years old while females – much earlier, being able to give birth as early as 4 years old.


Population threats

Deforestation and loss of habitat are not among serious threats to the Black-capped capuchins, since they can easily change their habitat and have very high reproductive rate. Natural threats to the population of these animals include predators such as jaguars or birds of prey. The Black-capped capuchins are often killed for meat by humans. In addition, they are frequently captured for pet trade and entertainment industry.

Population number

According to IUCN, the Black-capped capuchin is common and widespread throughout its range but no overall population estimate is available. Classified as Least Concern (LC) in the IUCN Red List, this species is not considered endangered but its population is currently decreasing.

Ecological niche

Feeding upon fruit, the capuchins become seed dispersers of certain forest plants. On the other hand, preying on small animals, they are among important predators of the area. Sometimes groups of the Black-capped capuchins mix with those of other species such as squirrel monkeys, cooperating with them in search of food. This cooperation makes the foraging process much easier for squirrel monkeys and soon they find new source of food. However, this interaction is not likely to benefit Black-capped capuchins.

Fun Facts for Kids

  • These animals are named after friars who were usually dressed in brown robes with hoods covering their heads.
  • The Black-capped capuchins use variety of tools in everyday life. They keep water in containers, use stones as hammers, sponges to absorb juice and chisels to penetrate a barrier.
  • Flirting behavior is common for capuchins that choose a mate. When flirting, they raise their eyebrows.
  • The tail and the body of capuchin are the same length.
  • These animals are highly intelligent and learn easily. In some countries, they are trained to help quadriplegic people.
  • The Black-capped capuchins use a wide variety of facial expressions as a mean of communication. Through facial expression they can greet or warn each other, show friendliness or fear.
  • These animals are extremely curious and tend to play with objects that are placed around them. Juveniles of Black-capped capuchins play both in the wild and in captivity.


1. Black-Capped Capuchin Wikipedia article -
2. Black-Capped Capuchin on The IUCN Red List site -

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