A troop of red-backed squirrel monkeys (Saimiri oerstedii) playfully and rapidly moves through the trees above me. The entire group consisted of over three dozen of them, constantly on the move but occasionally stopping to consume small fruits. In South America, other species of squirrel monkeys follow the capuchin monkeys around, foraging alongside them (or as I have heard, leeching off of their foraging sites). However, this behavior isn’t exhibited by S. oerstedii. This Central American species has a small distribution, inhabiting the Pacific lowland rainforests of Costa Rica and Panama. They are omnivorous and feed on a variety of food items, including arthropods, lizards, frogs, bats, fruit, flowers, and leaves — pretty much anything small that the tiny monkeys can get their hands on. Habitat loss, forest fragmentation, and poaching from the wild have contributed to large population declines since the mid 1900s, and it is currently listed as vulnerable on the IUCN Red List.
Photographed after pursuit