Brown Spider Monkey

Critically endangered

Animal Group: Mammal
Regions: Americas
Sub-regions: South America
Countries: Colombia and Venezuela

The brown spider monkey is certainly a very well known member of its species thanks to its long limbs and love of climbing. In many ways they represent what most people believe small monkeys look like as many have become pets in recent years as well. However, the brown spider monkey is also close to extinction and despite efforts to preserve the species there may come a day when there are no more brown spider monkeys in the wild.

The brown spider monkey is distinguished by its long forelimbs which are longer than their hind limbs. They are relatively small animals that have a distinguishingly thin prehensile tail which is where they get their name from. In fact, their tail while thin is still very strong and is often used as a fifth limb. They are covered in brown fur on the arms, legs and back with white fur on their underbellies and part of their face.

Many of the spider monkeys have a white, triangular patch that sits atop their forehead which makes them really stand out from similar species. Plus, there are some brown spider monkeys that have unusually pale blue eyes which only add to their distinctive appearance. A typical spider monkey will live about 27 years in the wild, but up to a decade longer if protected in captivity.


The spider monkey lives in the canopies of the forests that cover parts of Columbia and Venezuela. They rely on their senses to find the ripe fruits that populate the upper part of the forests. However, during the dryer seasons they will resort to eating leaves, seeds, honey, decaying wood, flowers and even insects on occasion.

Interestingly enough, spider monkeys are known to go to ground on occasion and eat soil and clay. There is no known reason for this, however some scientists suspect that the monkey might be trying to get the minerals from the soil that is lacking in their almost exclusive fruit diet. In addition, the monkeys will occasionally find water on the forest floor, but they prefer to stay in the safety of the trees if at all possible.

Reason for Being Close to Extinction

Along with the yellow-tailed woolly monkey, the brown tailed spider monkey is edging close to extinction. There are a number of reasons for this, but the most important one is the loss of their habitat in the forests of South America. The deforestation has devastated the population of the spider monkey as it is the primary source of shelter and food.

In addition, hunting has decimated their population as well although not to the extent of losing the forest. Plus, spider monkeys prefer untouched forest that contains the thick canopies where they can swing from tree to tree while rarely having to go to ground. Unless the deforestation is stopped along with the hunting, the brown spider monkey will become extinct in a short period of time. The monkeys are also hunted by the jaguars and mountains lions along with the harpy and crested eagles as well.