... Capuchin Monkey (Cebus Capuccinus) ...
by Infocostarica Staff
Cebus capucinus is a diurnal, arboreal, prehensile-tailed primate of the family cebidae. There are four different species in the genus Cebus, but capucinus is the only one in Costa Rica, its range extending from Belize to extreme northern Colombia.
Cebus capucinus inhabit wet lowland forest on the Caribbean coast of Caribbean Coast and deciduous dry forest on the pacific coast, and they range up to an altitude of at least 1500m in Costa Rica and Panama and 2000m in Colombia. They will forage in young secondary growth as well as in mature forest, and occasionally they are found in mangrove forest. On rare occasions one may even see individuals traveling across a Guanacaste savanna.
All Cebus are omnivorous, most of their diet consisting of fruits and, in lesser quantity, insects. Other plant parts, particularly new branch growth and flowers, are occasionally important, and small vertebrates are eaten rarely. In some areas capuchins are known for their propensity to raid agricultural crops, especially corn.
Fruits are usually ripe when eaten, and capuchins often test for ripeness by smelling, biting, or squeezing them. Some hard fruits are pounded on branches or rocks to soften them or to knock out seeds.
Cebus capucinus on Barro Colorado Island ate the fruit of approximately ninety-five plant species on the branch growth, buds, and various flower parts of twenty-four species during a long-term study. During a shorter study in Santa Rosa National Park products from forty-two species of plants were eaten or at least tasted.
During the dry season in Santa Rosa the capuchins ate many adult insects, but in the wet season Lepidoptera larvae became a common prey. Among the vertebrates or vertebrate products eaten by Cebus capucinus are included birds' eggs, young birds, nestling squirrels, and small anolis lizards.
Capuchins may be important agents of seed dispersal for some tree species. Two-thirds of the seeds that had passed through the gut of a capuchin germinated, a germination rate equal to that of uneaten seeds, but defecated seeds germinated 10 days sooner.
Beside obtaining moisture from fruits and other foods, capuchins drink water directly. If it is avalaible, Cebus capucinus drinks water from tree holes, but during the dry season in Santa Rosa, when all tree holes where dry, a troop drank at least once and often twice each day from a ground spring.
The population density of Cebus capucinus has been estimated at eighteen to twenty-four per km2 on Barro Colorado and five to seven per km2 in Santa Rosa, although at Santa Rosa their numbers may have exceeded thirty animals per km2 if only the more mature forest in the park is considered.