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Did you know that spix’s night monkeys only weigh around 1 kg?

  • Every two weeks, Mongabay brings you a new episode of Candid Animal Cam, our show featuring animals caught on camera traps around the world and hosted by Romi Castagnino, our writer and conservation scientist.

Camera traps bring you closer to the secretive natural world and are an important conservation tool to study wildlife. This week we’re meeting a species of nocturnal primate: the Spix’s night monkey.

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The Spix’s night monkey (Aotus vociferans) is one of the eleven species of nocturnal monkeys in the world. It is found in the forests of Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador and Peru. These monkeys are quite small, only weighing around one kilogram. Their large brown eyes have evolved as an adaptation to their nocturnal lifestyles and compared to diurnal primates, they have a better spatial resolution at low light levels which helps them move through the trees at night.

The Spix’s night monkeys live in groups usually consisting of breeding pairs and their offspring. During the day, family groups huddle in tree holes or thickets of dense foliage which they leave after sunset to look for food during the night. Spix’s monkeys are monogamous and use social sniffing to assess potential breeding partners. They will also urinate on their hands and then rub them on different surfaces to show sexual attraction. They will give birth to one offspring at a time and the male assumes most of the parental care. The Spix’s night monkey is a very adaptable species, thriving even in disturbed habitats. It is classified as Least Concern by the IUCN. Watch the video to learn more about this species!

Special thanks to ecologist Diego Mosquera for sharing the camera trap footage with us. The videos were taken at Tiputini Biodiversity Station, a field biological station run by Universidad San Francisco de Quito and located in Ecuador’s Yasuni National Park. Its location between the Andes mountain range and the Amazon Rainforest makes it one of the most biodiverse places on earth.

Due to the cryptic and elusive nature of some arboreal species, their ecology remains poorly understood. In 2019, researchers at the Tiputini Biodiversity Station initiated a project using camera traps in the canopy to monitor the arboreal vertebrate species of Yasuni: their ecological traits, behavior, activity patterns and use of resources. The data collected will not only give researchers insight into wildlife dynamics in the canopy but also help develop management tools that can be used in areas near anthropogenic pressures.

You can follow Tiputini Biodiversity Station’s work on Instagram and their website.


Banner photo by Rhett A. Butler.


Romi Castagnino is Mongabay’s bilingual writer. Find her on Twitter and Instagram: @romi_castagnino

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