9 COMMON Monkeys Found in French Guiana! (2024)

What kinds of monkeys live in French Guiana?

monkeys in french guiana

If you find yourself visiting French Guiana, it’s only natural that you will ask yourself the above question. I mean, who doesn’t want to see monkeys!?

Luckily, there are quite a few species you should be able to find. So, keep reading to learn how to identify each primate and learn some fun and interesting facts. Pictures and range maps are also included!

9 monkey species that live in French Guiana:

#1. Chestnut Weeper Capuchin

  • Cebus castaneus

Also known as the Chestnut Capuchin.

types of monkeys in french guiana
Credit: Christophe Chauvin Janekvorik, via Wikimedia Commons

Identifying Characteristics:

  • These capuchins are 55 cm (22 in) long. Their tails are roughly the same length.
  • You’ll see a dark patch of hair on their heads.
  • They have chestnut brown coats that grow lighter on the underside.

Chestnut Weeper Capuchins eat fruits, shoots, and occasionally invertebrates like insects. Nuts can be tough to open, but this species has a perfect strategy. They cleverly hammer them open with rocks.

These monkeys in French Guiana often share resources with other species.

Curiously, however, they have a long-standing rivalry with howler monkeys and remain territorial. Groups of up to 30 individuals, about half of which are juveniles, reside in the rainforest. Adult males act as defenders, while females are responsible for raising infants.


As key agents of seed dispersal, Chestnut Weeper Capuchins help their forest habitats flourish. In fact, some seeds sprout better after passing through the digestive systems of these monkeys. They also help spread pollen across flowers by feeding on nectar.


#2. Northern Bearded Saki Monkey

  • Chiropotes sagulatus

Also known as the Guianan Bearded Saki.

common monkeys in french guiana

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults are 33-46 cm (13-18 in) long, and their tails grow 39-46 cm (15-18 in).
  • You’ll notice two black “buns” of fur at the top of their heads. They also have thick black beards.
  • They are dark-haired on the body with orange-brown fur on the back.

Northern Bearded Saki Monkeys in French Guiana inhabit rainforests and savannas.

Their typical diet includes seeds, fruits, and flowers. Their jaws and teeth are also strong and adapted to cracking open hard nuts.

A group of this species consists of 25-55 male and female members. When foraging, they split into smaller troops and then reunite after they’ve had their fill. Relative to other primates, Northern Bearded Saki Monkeys are less social, though they still engage in grooming behavior. In addition, unlike most monkey species, they don’t operate with an obvious leader directing the group.


#3. Common Squirrel Monkey

  • Saimiri sciureus

Also known as the South American Squirrel Monkey and Guianan Squirrel Monkey.

kinds of monkeys in french guiana

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults are only 25-37 cm (10-15 in) long. Their black-tipped tails are 36-47 cm (14-19 in) in length.
  • They have black muzzles and white, fuzzy ears. White fur encircles their eyes.
  • Their coats are mostly gray, though their limbs and backs have a yellow tint.

Vast populations of Common Squirrel Monkeys live in the rainforests of French Guiana.

They gather in groups of up to 300 members! They frequently mingle with other monkeys, such as capuchins and sakis. Capuchins give off alarm calls that warn squirrel monkeys of nearby predators.

As omnivores, Common Squirrel Monkeys eat fruits, seeds, lizards, and spiders. During mating season, males gain weight and become more aggressive. They don’t assist in child care, which leaves all the parental duties to females. As a species, they’re usually peaceful. When two groups cross paths, they tend to ignore each other instead of engaging in fights.

The exotic pet community has a long history of trading Common Squirrel Monkeys. However, you should avoid participating in this trade. These monkeys have high social needs, which can only be satisfied by socializing with their kind in the wilderness.


#4. Golden-handed Tamarin

  • Saguinus midas

Also known as the Red-handed Tamarin or Midas Tamari.

species of monkeys in french guiana

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Their bodies measure 21-28 cm (8-11 in) long, while their tails are 31-44 cm (12-17 in).
  • They have black faces and big ears.
  • True to their name, the fur on their hands and feet is notably golden.
  • The rest of their bodies are covered by black or dark brown hair. Some specimens have speckled backs.

Don’t get into a scuffle with Golden-handed Tamarins! Aggressively territorial, they make up for their small size with sharp teeth and claws. These monkeys are fantastic at climbing vines and running across branches. Even wide gaps between trees can’t stop them! They regularly leap distances over 18 meters (59 feet) wide!

A pack of Golden-handed Tamarins consists of 4-15 individuals. Despite their aggressive nature, they rarely fight among themselves. Instead, they’re highly cooperative as a group. If you threaten one of them, other pack members will come rushing to its aid.

In each breeding season, only a single female gives birth, typically to two offspring. The father is the primary caretaker, though all members of the pack contribute to raising the babies. For Golden-headed Tamarins, it truly takes a village to raise babies!


#5. Guiana Spider Monkey

  • Ateles paniscus

Also known as the Black Spider Monkey, Red-faced Spider Monkey, or Red-faced Black Spider Monkey.

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults are about 56 cm (22 in) in length, with long, prehensile tails.
  • Their faces are reddish pink and hairless.
  • They have long, thick black hair covering their bodies.

These long-haired monkeys live in the northern rainforests of French Guiana, far away from human civilization. In daylight, Guiana Spider Monkeys travel and search for food. When night falls, they gather in bands of 20-30 members. A group usually includes several females and their offspring, with a handful of males that act as guards.

Look at the canopy to see Guiana Spider Monkeys swinging from branch to branch. Their lengthy limbs and prehensile tails make them adept at scaling tall trees. They prefer feasting on fruits, but they also eat grubs, termites, and fungi.

Guiana Spider Monkeys sometimes appear to be fighting, but they might be trying to woo each other! Courtship rituals begin with members of the group wrestling, accompanied by growls and deep pants. Once a female has chosen her partner, she will sit on his lap to signal interest.


#6. Weeper Capuchin

  • Cebus olivaceus

Also known as the Guianan Weeper Capuchin or Wedge-capped Capuchin.

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults are about 55 cm (22 in) long. Their tails are roughly the same length.
  • Look for a triangular patch of dark fur on the crown of their heads.
  • Their coats are shades of brown, though their faces are framed by blonde fur.

Weeper Capuchins inhabit isolated rainforests in French Guiana.

These primates leap and climb through the canopy with great expertise using their long limbs. They have a balanced diet of fruits, nuts, berries, and insects. Populations along the coast also eat crabs and oysters.

An average group of Weeper Capuchins has 5-30 members: an adult male and several females with children. Grooming is an important activity that strengthens their bonds and hygiene. Baby capuchins are exclusively cared for by their mothers in the first three months. Then, other female adults share this duty in the months that follow.

Weeper Capuchins are quite civilized creatures! Sometimes, they wash their food before eating, ridding it of dirt and sand. Interestingly, to avoid mosquito bites in the rainy season, Weeper Capuchins rub millipedes over their fur as a form of bug repellant.


#7. Guianan Red Howler Monkey

  • Alouatta macconnelli

Also known as the Guyanan Red Howler.

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults are 48-63 cm (19-25 in) in length, with 52-80 cm (20-31 in) tails.
  • Hair is absent on their black faces. They also have large jaws.
  • They have a reddish brown coat that grows darker on the limbs. Their backs are tinged yellow.

Guianan Red Howler Monkeys in French Guiana prefer rainforests and swamps.

However, you might have difficulty finding them because they stay hidden among the tallest treetops. They’re equipped with prehensile tails to support them as they navigate through the branches.

These primates have sedentary lifestyles, with most days spent resting to conserve energy. Their teeth are primarily designed for chewing fibrous leaves. Other times, they enjoy ripe fruits and flowers. As a result, Guianan Red Howler Monkeys unintentionally scatter seeds after digesting them, making their species vital to maintaining a healthy forest.

A Guianan Red Howler Monkeys group has two to eight members, typically composed of a male howler leading several females and juveniles. They can roar deeply with their large voice boxes. Listen for their howling sessions at daybreak!


#8. White-faced Saki

  • Pithecia pithecia

Also known as the Guianan Saki or Golden-faced Saki.

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults can grow 32-40 cm (13-16 in) long. Their tails are similar in length.
  • They have skinny fingers and bushy tails.
  • Males have long, black fur and stark white faces.
  • Females have short, grayish-brown fur and non-distinct faces.

These peculiar-looking primates reside in the lower canopies of French Guiana’s rainforests. White-faced Sakis are most active during the early hours of the day, searching for fruits, nuts, and insects. Sometimes, they will invade tree hollows to prey on roosting bats.

White-faced Sakis take refuge under trees with thick foliage to keep warm and dry. These trees also conceal them from hawks and harpy eagles. If an individual spots a predator, it will alarm the others, who will then quickly echo the call for other nearby sakis.

As a monogamous species, White-faced Sakis bond for life. A typical family unit consists of a pair of sakis and their offspring. They easily swing across tree branches but are much more proficient jumpers. A White-faced Saki can cover a distance of 10 meters (32 feet) with a single leap!


#9. Brown Capuchin

  • Sapajus apella

Also known as the Tufted Capuchin, Black-capped Capuchin, or Pin Monkey.

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults are 32-57 cm (13-22 in) long. Their tails are 38-56 cm (15-22 in) long.
  • Look for a wig-like tuft of black hair on their heads.
  • They have brownish-gray body fur, but their limbs, tails, and heads are darker in contrast.

To see Brown Capuchins in action, you’ll have to visit the Amazon River basin in French Guiana. These monkeys thrive in both moist and dry forests, forming packs of 8-15 members. A dominant male acts as the leader and protector of the pack. If a pack member finds an abundant food source, it will whistle to let others know its location.

Brown Capuchins are impressively resourceful! After leaving palm nuts to dry for a week, these monkeys will bash them open with large rocks. Additionally, they use sticks to dig ants out of their mounds. Occasionally, they crush and rub these ants on their fur to repel ticks and mosquitoes. They also use big leaves to hold water for drinking.

Brown Capuchins are equipped with prehensile tails, but curiously, they don’t use them much. These tails help control their descent from heights, but they are more comfortable moving with their hands and feet.


For more information about animals in French Guiana, check out these guides:



Which of these monkeys in French Guiana is your favorite?


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