Black-Handed Spider Monkey
About the Black-Handed Spider Monkey
With a prehensile tail that acts as fifth limb, the agile black-handed spider monkey spends nearly all of its time hanging from its tail or swinging through the trees of its rainforest habitat—an activity known as brachiating. Rarely do spider monkeys venture to the forest floor. They're social animals, living in groups numbering from two to 30, communicating with barks and whinnies.
Spider Monkey Facts
The fur on the upper body, arms and feet of black-handed spider monkeys is dark brown or black. Their faces often have a pale mask of colorless skin. Unlike most other primates, their thumb is virtually non-existent. They have a long prehensile tail with a ‘palm-like’ pad of bare skin at the end.
Length: 1.3 feet to 2 feet with a 2.5 foot tail
Weight: 15 to 25 pounds
Black-handed spider monkeys eat fruits, nuts leaves and seeds.
These monkeys have no set breeding season. Mothers give birth to one offspring after a 225-day to 232-day gestation period. Young will stay with their mothers for 2 to 3 years. Males reach sexual maturity after 5 years and females reach sexual maturity after 4 years.
Black-handed spider monkeys are social primates that live in groups of two to 30 individuals. These groups split and reunite throughout the year depending on the availability of food. They don't have a usable thumb and their tail acts as a fifth limb. Both of these adaptations help them swing (brachiate) through the trees.
They're diurnal and feed primarily in the early morning. They rarely descend to the forest floor or ascend to the tops of the canopy due to feline predators on the forest floor and raptor predators at the top of the canopy.
The black-handed spider monkey ranges in the canopy of lowland and mountainous rainforests from southern Mexico to Columbia.
Median Life Expectancy:
The major threat to black-handed spider monkeys is habitat loss of forests. Secondary concerns are the illegal pet trade and being hunted for their meat.
Spider monkeys need to stay indoors and off exhibit if it's below 50 degrees. Visit our Winter Visits page to learn more about the amazing animals you can still see during the winter.
You Can Find This Animal in the Treetops and Riverbeds
Supporting Species Survival
Zoo New England participates in the black-handed spider monkey Species Survival Plan. By sharing research and knowledge, participating institutions work together to establish guidelines that best ensure the health of captive populations, and with success, the survival of otherwise extinct species.