Cebus capucinusCapuchin

Family

  • Cebidae

Lifespan

  • Wild: 12 to 25 years
  • Captivity: Up to 47 years

Size

  • Length: 11 to 20 inch body, with a 12 to 20 inch tail.
  • Weight: About 3 to 11 pounds.
    • Males are slightly larger than females.

Origin

  • Colombia, Costa Rica, Honduras, Nicaragua, and Panama

Habitat 

  • Main canopy levels in evergreen rainforests, mangroves, deciduous dry forest.

Lifestyle

  • Capuchins are omnivorous (eats both plant and animal matter, primarily fruits and insects), diurnal (active during the day), and are primarily arboreal (spending most of their time in trees).
  • Capuchins move quadrupedally, or by using four limbs.

Diet

  • Wild: Fruits, nuts, leaves, insects, birds, lizards, eggs, and small mammals like nesting coatis.
  • Zoo: New World Primate biscuits, fruits and vegetables.

Reproduction

  • Capuchins have a polygamous mating system.
  • Gestation lasts around 157 to 167 days.
  • Females give birth to a single young which will cling to its mother from birth. 
  • Young are weaned by the age of 12 months and young males leave their birthplace as early as two years old. 
  • Males do not share in childcare. White-throated Capuchins

Unique Characteristics

  • Capuchins travel in an ordered, single line through the treetops.
  • They communicate vocally, through facial expression, and through grooming.
  • They can swim rather well.
  • They have a poor sense of smell and use urine-washing (rubbing urine on hands and feet) to mark territory.

Special Adaptations

  • Capuchins have an opposable thumb and big toe, as well as a partially prehensile tail.
  • The molars are square shaped with thick enamel to help crack nuts.
  • They have the most highly developed brain of the New World monkeys, and have been observed using weapons, tools, and problem-solving skills to adapt to their changing environment.

What’s in a Name

  • Capuchins have a tuft of hair on their head similar to a capuche worn by Franciscan monks, hence their name.
  • They are also known as "ring tails" because the tail is carried with the tip coiled up.

Humans and Capuchins

  • The most famous relationship of man to the capuchin is that of the organ grinder.
  • Capuchins are also used in research due to their intelligence, sometimes even placed with paraplegics to perform tasks. 
     
    White-throated capuchin

Conservation Status

  • IUCN: Least Concern
  • CITES: Appendix II (trade controlled)
  • Capuchins are prone to habitat loss, as many other species are
  • Importation is now illegal to protect the wild populations.  

Sources

  1. CITES Appendices. Accessed December 2012. www.cites.org
  2. IUCN Red List of Endangered Species. Accessed December 2012. www.iucnredlist.org
  3. Cebus capucinus (Linnaeus, 1758). Encyclopedia of Life. Accessed December 2012. www.eol.org/pages/323944