Geographic Distribution and Habitat
- Weeper Capuchins are found in South America in northern Brazil, Guyana, French Guiana, Suriname, Venezuela and possibly northern Colombia. They live in trees so they enjoy the tropical rain forest and its abundance of trees and leaves.
- They live in the lower to middle layers of the tree forest. This protects them from predators and also is where they find their food sources.
Size & weight
- These New World monkeys from head to tail are about 840 mm (33 inches). Their tails make up about half of their total body size. Their bodies are about 419 mm (16.5 inches) while their tail makes up the other half.
- They can weigh between 2-3 g (6-7 lbs.)
- They show sexual dimorphism, where the males are typically larger than the females.
- The head is off-white in color with a black or dark gray wedge shaped patch that starts at the forehead and then goes back over the head. Their arms are darker in color and their tail has a black tip usually.
- Their tails also curl at the end.
- The marking on their heads is quite distinguishable, visually separating them from other capuchin species.
- Their diet changes throughout the seasons based upon available food sources. They are considered omnivores, which means they eat a variety of foods like we do. They eat plants like fruits, nuts, and roots and also eat animals like snails, wasps, caterpillars, grasshoppers, ants, bird eggs, and many insects.
- Because they are able to switch to different food sources it allows them to be adaptable to different environments. When a food supply has run out, either from other species eating the same food or a change in season, they are able to survive and thrive.
Photo courtesy of ARKive.org
Behavior and Lifestyle
Conservation Status and Threats
- Weeper Capuchins are like a lot of primates in their need for social groups. They live in groups of about 10-33 individuals. They have one dominate male that mates with most of the females.
- They live in multi-male multi- female groups, usually with three females to every male in a group. Their hierarchy system depends upon the mother’s status in the group. The females stay within their birth group (philopatric) while the males leave when they become sexually mature.
- They move around through the trees on all four limbs using their prehensile tails as an extra supporting limb for stability and grasping when they feed, and for balancing when climbing through trees.
- Their home range size, or the area where they forage to find food and shelter, varies depending on the size of the group and how much food is available in the area. With larger home ranges there is a greater chance of over lapping home ranges with other Weeper capuchin groups or other species competing for the same resource. Primates in general try to stay away from each other using vocalizations to tell others where they are and to stay away.
- The Weeper Capuchin is named for the mournful sound of one of its vocalizations.
- They are also known as Wedge-Capped Capuchins because of the black wedge shaped pattern on their foreheads.
- They have prehensile tails, which means they are able to hang from their tails while eating or scavenging for food. Little pads on their tails, much like a dogs’ or cats’ paw pads, provide extra grip for grasping, steadying balance, and hanging from trees.
- The Department of Anthropology at Columbia University has observed these capuchins using the toxins that millipedes release as a type of insect repellent.
- Weeper Capuchins have been known to allomother, meaning that other females in the group will take care of others babies.
Conservation Status and Threats
- Weeper Capuchins are listed as Least Concern! The IUCN Red List's justification for this status is because these primates are wide spread, common, and there are no major threats to them at this time that would significantly make their population decline. This does not mean that they are in the clear though. With continued deforestation of the Amazon these primates could experience population decline in the future.
- Dept. of Anthropology, Columbia University, New York, NY, 2000. Seasonal anointment with millipedes in a wild primate: A chemical defense against insects?. Journal of Chemical Ecology, 26(12).
Written by Heidi Giancola, May 2016