Guianan squirrel monkey (Saimiri sciureus sciureus)

squirrel monkey

Our squirrel monkeys can be found in our Life Among the Trees exhibit.

Fast facts

Status Least Concern

Size Head-body: 25-37cm; tail: 36-47cm

Weight 550-1400g

Gestation 5 months

Young 1

Life span 20 years or more

What do I eat?

Squirrel monkeys are frugivore-insectivores, which means that they mainly eat fruit and insects. They also eat flowers, nectar, seeds, gums, bird eggs and small animal prey such as spiders and lizards. When there is not much fruit available, squirrel monkeys may survive for short periods of time just by eating insects. These monkeys are good at using their hands to search leaves and twigs for insects and other small animals.

Where do I live?

Guianan squirrel monkeys are found in Guyana, Suriname, French Guiana and northern Brazil.  They are found in a variety of types of tropical forest including ones which are seasonally flooded, forests next to lakes, rivers and streams, and secondary forests, which means forests which have been disturbed, for example by logging. Squirrel monkeys mostly travel and search for food in the lower canopy and understorey layers of the forest.


Guianan squirrel monkeys only mate during the dry season within a two-month period, and all pregnant females within a group tend to give birth within a week of each other. This means that the young can be weaned during the start of the wet season when there is most food available. The young cling to their mother’s front for the first two weeks of their life. After this they begin to hang on to her back. Infants are fully grown by 16-24 months of age. Female members of a group without their own infant may help to care for the young of other mothers by carrying them or even nursing them.


Squirrel monkeys have a range of predators including raptors, cats and snakes.


This species does not currently face any major threats. They are listed on CITES Appendix II which means that trade in these animals or any of their parts is restricted. They are also found in a number of protected areas but because they are so small they are not generally hunted.

Did you know?

Guianan squirrel monkeys don’t just scratch themselves when they have an itch, but also when they are anxious. They scratch more when they are on their own than when they are close to others in their group and scratch the least when they are huddling with others.

Guianan squirrel monkeys live in large groups averaging 23 individuals. This is thought to help them keep watch for predators.

Squirrel monkeys make a lot of noise, especially when they are travelling or when they are scattered over a large area. 20 different types of call have been identified, including purrs, cackles and squeaks. They emit different calls in different situations, including to warn of danger, to keep in contact with one another and when playing. 

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Group Visits

We have loved it forever!

We had a totally happy family - aged between 76 and 3 months - the monkeys, lemurs, giraffes, tigers and snow leopards were a major triumph.Carol, 26th June 2019