Capuchin monkeys had their name derived from the Franciscan Capuchin whose cowl is similar to the coloration of the monkeys. They belong to the Cebinae family and Cebus genus. These monkeys are found in Central America and South America. Also known as sapajou, these species of monkeys are considered to be the most intelligent of all present species of monkeys.
The face, neck and chest of capuchins are white colored where as the rest of the body is either brown or black colored. Their body grows up to twelve to twenty two inches in height and their hairy tails are also usually the same length as the body. Their average body weight is two pounds. The males weigh more than the females. When they are held in captivity, they can live up to forty five years, but in the wild habitat they can live only for fifteen to twenty five years. They stay awake during the day and sleep at night except for the midday nap they take. During the day, they spend most of the time looking for food and at night, they sleep on the branches of the trees.
Capuchins are very social and live in a group of eight to forty males, females and their children. The area where the whole group lives together is marked with the smell of urine and intruders are not welcomed. A strong male controls the whole group and mates with the rest of the females in the group to produce offspring. Male and female capuchins smell each other to know whether the other is sexually mature or not. A female capuchin monkey has the capability of reproducing after every two years. Their pregnancy period lasts from five to six months.
The offspring clings onto the chest of the mother and when they grow big enough, they shift to their back. They expect their mothers to babysit till they are three months old. Male capuchins have no participation in the upbringing of their offspring. But if people want to keep them as pets, before keeping them as pets, they can be neutered. The whole group finds solace in grooming, which they also use as a means of expressing their feelings. They even reduce millipedes to pieces so as to rub that on their body to repel insects and mosquitoes.
Capuchins are very intelligent mammals and have been known to use various tools which assist them in their daily life. They drink the juice of palm nut fruits from the tip and then let them dry. After they dry, they will collect them and break them with the help of a big boulder collected from the rivers. They have the ability to walk on their feet with food and tools in their hands. They are also clever enough to find food on ground as well as on trees. Unlike other monkeys, they are omnivorous. Along with eating food like seed, nuts, fruits, flowers they also feed on eggs of birds, small birds, insects, spiders, reptiles, bats and even small mammals. Some of them who live near water bodies also feed on shellfishes and crabs, which they crack open with the help of stones.
They aren’t fussy about their environment; hence it is easy to maintain them as pets. People also favor to keep them as pets because they are good organ grinders and also as service animals. They are also kept as pets to help quadriplegics (people whose all four limbs are paralyzed) around the house. They are trained for this purpose by many organizations. They have capability to open bottles, microwave food and even wash the face of the patient. They are also safe around kids in the house as they are very gentle in nature. They can also be taught tricks and some have even starred in movies. Capuchins are also the most oppressed among the pet animals. They also become troublesome when they reach sexual maturity, which often confuses the owner.