Peruvian Spider Monkey
The Peruvian spider monkey (Ateles chamek) is a species of spider monkey
Spider monkey
Spider monkeys of the genus Ateles are New World monkeys in the subfamily Atelinae, family Atelidae. Like other atelines, they are found in tropical forests of Central and South America, from southern Mexico to Brazil...

 that lives not only in Peru
Peru , officially the Republic of Peru , is a country in western South America. It is bordered on the north by Ecuador and Colombia, on the east by Brazil, on the southeast by Bolivia, on the south by Chile, and on the west by the Pacific Ocean....

, but also in Brazil
Brazil , officially the Federative Republic of Brazil , is the largest country in South America. It is the world's fifth largest country, both by geographical area and by population with over 192 million people...

 and Bolivia
Bolivia officially known as Plurinational State of Bolivia , is a landlocked country in central South America. It is the poorest country in South America...

. At two feet (0.6 m) long, they are relatively large among species of monkey, and their strong, prehensile tails can be up to three feet (1 m) long. Unlike many species of monkey, they have virtually no thumb. Peruvian spider monkeys live in groups of up to a dozen individuals called bands. They prefer to eat fleshy fruit, and this leads them to move among habitats, but they also eat small animals, insects and leaves based on availability. Females separate from the band to give birth, typically in the fall. Peruvian spider monkey are independent at about 10 months, with a lifespan of about 20 years.


The Peruvian spider monkey weighs up to 20 pounds (9 kg.). Its body can be 24 inches (0.7 m) long and the tail can be 36 inches (1 m)long. It has four elongated fingers and virtually no thumb, which is typical for spider monkeys but unusual for other monkeys. It can move easily through the trees and it uses its tail like an extra limb. It has an agility that can only be compared to the gibbon
Gibbons are apes in the family Hylobatidae . The family is divided into four genera based on their diploid chromosome number: Hylobates , Hoolock , Nomascus , and Symphalangus . The extinct Bunopithecus sericus is a gibbon or gibbon-like ape which, until recently, was thought to be closely related...

 of Asia. It has a life span of up to 20 years.


The range of the Peruvian spider monkey is not limited to Peru but also includes Bolivia and Brazil. They live in the jungles, occupying the canopy and the sub-canopy, and sometimes in the mountains. They live in territorial bands of 6-12 individuals whose territory covers about 20 square kilometers. Band size is somewhat seasonal, probably because females separate themselves from the band for a few months to give birth, primarily in the fall. It has to contest with other spider monkeys, wooly monkeys, and howler monkeys for food and territory.


The Peruvian spider monkey feeds on leaves, berries, small animals such as birds and frogs, flowers, termites, honey, grubs, and fruits. It would rather eat plant matter and insects, but when it finds them, it will eat baby birds, bird eggs, and frogs. In the Amazon, bands of Peruvian spider monkeys show strong seasonal variations in habitat based on the availability of fleshy fruits.

Growth and Reproduction

The spider monkey has a reproductive period that can span throughout the year, though most babies are born in the fall. It has a gestation period of about 140 days. The pregnant female leaves the group to have her baby and returns 2-4 months later. The newborn spider monkey is independent at about 10 months.

Similar or related species

In addition to external appearance, the Peruvian spider monkey differs from the red-faced spider monkey
Red-faced Spider Monkey
The red-faced spider monkey, Guiana spider monkey, or red-faced black spider monkey, Ateles paniscus, is a species of spider monkey found in the rain forests in northern South America....

 by the number of chromosome
A chromosome is an organized structure of DNA and protein found in cells. It is a single piece of coiled DNA containing many genes, regulatory elements and other nucleotide sequences. Chromosomes also contain DNA-bound proteins, which serve to package the DNA and control its functions.Chromosomes...

s (2n = 32 in the red-faced vs. 2n = 34 in the Peruvian) in addition to several specific chromosomal differences. The two species have been interbred in captivity, resulting in offspring with reduced fertility (but not sterility). There are several related species such as the Central American spider monkey or Geoffroy's spider monkey
Geoffroy's Spider Monkey
Geoffroy's spider monkey, Ateles geoffroyi, also known as black-handed spider monkey, is a species of spider monkey, a type of New World monkey, from Central America, parts of Mexico and possibly a small portion of Colombia. There are at least five subspecies. Some primatologists classify the...

 (A. geoffroyi), and the brown spider monkey
Brown Spider Monkey
The brown spider monkey or variegated spider monkey is a critically endangered species of spider monkey, a type of New World monkey, from northern Colombia and north-western Venezuela. Its taxonomic history has been confusing, and in the past it has been treated as a subspecies of either the...

(A. hybridus). Both of these have a prehensile tail, a thumbless hand, and other characteristics that are found in all spider monkeys.
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