110 W. New York Ave.
DeLand, FL 32720
By Lynn Bowen
posted Mar 17, 2013 - 11:11:13pm
Cute, acrobatic, energetic black-handed spider monkeys are named for their extremely long spidery limbs and their prehensile tail that acts like a fifth limb.
The males are slightly larger than the females. Their head and body size ranges from 15 to 27 inches long, and their tail alone is 23 to 29 inches long. These 12- to 15-pound monkeys' color varies from light tan to reddish brown or even black. Their hands and feet are black. Their fur is coarse and stringy over most of their slim body.
The tail is amazing, since the black-handed spider monkey uses it not only for swinging on trees, but for throwing things, and even picking up something as small as sunflower seeds!
This monkey's hairless face shows so much expression as he prances and swings around in his large cage at the Central Florida Zoo & Botanical Gardens. If there's a baby in a spider-monkey family, it quite often uses its own tail to hang on to Mom's tail. When under 4 months old, the baby will cling to the mom's front, and later will hang on to her back. Mom's always there!
Beginning when she reaches maturity at age 4, the female black-handed spider monkey usually has only one baby every three years! These monkeys are "critically endangered" due to habitat destruction, poaching, and the pet trade. Humans, jaguars and pumas are their main predators. As you can guess, it is very difficult to boost their population or keep it from dwindling!
The natural home for black-handed spider monkeys is southern Mexico and the rain forests of Central America. They are social animals that live in groups of four to 35, and eat mostly fruit, but also eat flowers, leaves, insects and other small animals.
A black-handed spider monkey can live to be 25 years old if tragedy doesn't strike first!
— Bowen lives in DeLand. Send email to her at email@example.com.
Comment on this article
Commenting is closed for this article.
If you would like to contribute a letter to the editor, please click here.
Did you find this story interesting or informative? Subscribe to The West Volusia Beacon to read more stories by Lynn Bowen, along with others from our award-winning writers. Subscribe now!