Cebus olivaceusweeping capuchin

Geographic Range

Weeping capuchins are found in South America. Their range extends from the northern neotropics to northwestern Venezuela to the southern reaches of the Amazon Basin (Eisenberg and Redford, 1989). They exist in dry deciduous forests on the llanos of Venezuela and mature tropical forests of Guyana (Nowak, 1999).


Weeping capuchins are found in typical llanos habitat of semi deciduous, dry tropical forests.They usually use the lower to middle layers of the forest in order to hunt for food as well as flee from predators. Capuchins use the forest floor and turn over leaf litter in search of small vertebrates and invertebrates. They show a broad tolrerance for habitat types (Eisenberg and Redford, 1989).

  • Range elevation
    500 to 2700 m
    1640.42 to 8858.27 ft
  • Average elevation
    1000-1800 m

Physical Description

Weeping capuchins are similar in body size to small dogs, about 500 mm in length. The tail in this species is semiprehensile and is roughly the same length as the body, making an overall length of approximately 840 mm (Eisenberg and Redford, 1989).

Males and females generally weigh around 2.5 to 2.8 kg, but the males may weigh about 800 g more. The body is a mostly off-white to pale buff in color. The head is the same color as the body, but has a black to dark gray wedge-shaped patch extending from the forehead backwards over the cranium. The forearms also exhibit this dark black to gray color. The tail is black-tipped and is often carried coiled at the tip. This "ring-tail" is strong enough to support the entire body weight for long periods and is often used while feeding to free up the hands (Nowak, 1999).

  • Sexual Dimorphism
  • male larger
  • Range mass
    1100 to 4300 g
    38.77 to 151.54 oz
  • Average mass
    2500-2810 g
  • Range length
    605 to 1120 mm
    23.82 to 44.09 in
  • Average length
    840 mm
    33.07 in


These animals mate polygynously, with the dominant male in the troop copulating with all of the receptive females.

Weeping capuchins are polygamous. There is one dominant male who is responsible for mating with all receptive females in the troop.

Males reach reproductive maturity at 7 years and females are able to bare young in their fourth year (Eisenberg and Redford, 1989). Mature females produce offspring every 19 months on average, although it is not uncommon for females to give birth in successive years. (DiBitella and Janson, 2001). Females give birth to 1 young after a gestation period of 160 days. The infant weighs approximately 200 to 500 g and is able to cling to its mother's hair only moments after being born (Nowak, 1999).

  • Breeding season
    Breeding season: Oct. -Feb. during peak food availability
  • Average number of offspring
  • Range gestation period
    145 to 170 days
  • Average gestation period
    160 days
  • Range weaning age
    1.5 to 4 months
  • Average weaning age
    2.35 months
  • Average age at sexual or reproductive maturity (female)
    4-6 months
  • Average age at sexual or reproductive maturity (female)
    Sex: female
    2190 days
  • Average age at sexual or reproductive maturity (male)
    7-9 months

Female capuchins are the primary care givers. The male may invest some time in foraging for the female but invests little or nothing in parental care (Nowak, 1999).

  • Parental Investment
  • altricial
  • pre-fertilization
    • provisioning
    • protecting
      • female
  • pre-hatching/birth
    • provisioning
      • female
    • protecting
      • female
  • pre-weaning/fledging
    • provisioning
      • female
    • protecting
      • female


In captivity a capuchin may live as long as 55 years. Capuchins in the wild live an average of 34 to 36 years (Nowak, 1999).

  • Range lifespan
    Status: captivity
    45 to 55 years
  • Average lifespan
    Status: captivity
    50-52 years
  • Typical lifespan
    Status: wild
    30 to 47 years
  • Average lifespan
    Status: wild
    40-44 years


Weeping capuchins are very social animals. They live in troops of about 10 to 33 individuals. The home range of a troop is roughly 25 to 40 ha, but may exceed 100 ha. These monkeys demonstrate no territorial behavior in mating systems but will compete for food and water resources with outside capuchin troops as well as other cebid monkeys (Eisenberg and Redford, 1989). Capuchins seem to have a special affinity for a millipede that releases a toxin believed to act as an insect repellent for the capuchins (Department of Anthropology, Columbia University, 2000).

Communication and Perception

Food Habits

Foraging and dietary patters of C. olivaceus are related to the group size and also to the season in which the animals are observed. It is believed that perceived predation risk plays a significant role in the pattern of food intake. Predation may also influence individual fitness, not only directly, but by its impact on foraging success (Miller and Teaford, 2000).

Weeping capuchins consume fruits, palm nuts, seeds, berries, and many varieties of small vertebrates and invertebrates. A strict hierarchy determines the priority of access to food of the younger capuchins (Eisenberg and Redford, 1989). Other foods may include flowering buds, shoots, barks, gums, arachnids, eggs, and even other small mammals. Some coastal species may also include oysters, crabs, and other marine life (Nowak, 1999).

  • Animal Foods
  • mammals
  • insects
  • terrestrial non-insect arthropods
  • mollusks
  • aquatic crustaceans
  • Plant Foods
  • leaves
  • wood, bark, or stems
  • seeds, grains, and nuts
  • fruit


Weeping capuchins have only a few predators in the wild. They are arboreal and can easily escape from ground predators. The major predator of these monkeys are humans. Live capuchins are in demand because of their mild temperments. They are used as pets, in zoo exhibits and may also be used as a food source for many natives.

Weeping capuchins are a favorite food for some snakes as well as some of the larger tropical rodents (Eisenberg and Redford, 1989).

Ecosystem Roles

Weeping capuchins probably help to control insect populations. They are also important in dispersing the seeds of fruits they eat. As a prey species, these monkeys probably affect predator populations.

  • Ecosystem Impact
  • disperses seeds

Economic Importance for Humans: Positive

Weeping capuchins have been sought by many people as pets. They are highly intelligent and can be trained to do tricks and perform tasks (Nowak, 1999). Many capuchins are kept in zoos or are trained to be part of TV programs. A particular weeping capuchin, "Marcelle" had a role in the television series "Friends." The character who owned this monkey was eventually forced to give him to the San Diego Zoo, because, as primatologists will tell you, MONKEYS DO NOT MAKE GOOD PETS.

Economic Importance for Humans: Negative

Weeping capuchins may carry many forms of human pathagens. They may also be able to transmit them to other animals or pet species (Nowak, 1999).

Conservation Status

This species is not threatened.


Nathan Schober (author), University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, Chris Yahnke (editor), University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point.



living in the southern part of the New World. In other words, Central and South America.

World Map


young are born in a relatively underdeveloped state; they are unable to feed or care for themselves or locomote independently for a period of time after birth/hatching. In birds, naked and helpless after hatching.

bilateral symmetry

having body symmetry such that the animal can be divided in one plane into two mirror-image halves. Animals with bilateral symmetry have dorsal and ventral sides, as well as anterior and posterior ends. Synapomorphy of the Bilateria.

causes or carries domestic animal disease

either directly causes, or indirectly transmits, a disease to a domestic animal


uses smells or other chemicals to communicate

dominance hierarchies

ranking system or pecking order among members of a long-term social group, where dominance status affects access to resources or mates


animals that use metabolically generated heat to regulate body temperature independently of ambient temperature. Endothermy is a synapomorphy of the Mammalia, although it may have arisen in a (now extinct) synapsid ancestor; the fossil record does not distinguish these possibilities. Convergent in birds.


forest biomes are dominated by trees, otherwise forest biomes can vary widely in amount of precipitation and seasonality.


offspring are produced in more than one group (litters, clutches, etc.) and across multiple seasons (or other periods hospitable to reproduction). Iteroparous animals must, by definition, survive over multiple seasons (or periodic condition changes).


having the capacity to move from one place to another.


This terrestrial biome includes summits of high mountains, either without vegetation or covered by low, tundra-like vegetation.

native range

the area in which the animal is naturally found, the region in which it is endemic.


generally wanders from place to place, usually within a well-defined range.


an animal that mainly eats all kinds of things, including plants and animals

pet trade

the business of buying and selling animals for people to keep in their homes as pets.


having more than one female as a mate at one time


rainforests, both temperate and tropical, are dominated by trees often forming a closed canopy with little light reaching the ground. Epiphytes and climbing plants are also abundant. Precipitation is typically not limiting, but may be somewhat seasonal.


reproduction that includes combining the genetic contribution of two individuals, a male and a female


associates with others of its species; forms social groups.


uses touch to communicate


Living on the ground.


the region of the earth that surrounds the equator, from 23.5 degrees north to 23.5 degrees south.


reproduction in which fertilization and development take place within the female body and the developing embryo derives nourishment from the female.

year-round breeding

breeding takes place throughout the year


Dept. of Anthropology, Columbia University, New York, NY, 2000. Seasonal anointment with millipedes in a wild primate: A chemical defense against insects?. Journal of Chemical Ecology, 26(12).

DiBitella, M., C. Janson. 2001. Reproductive socioecology of capuchins in northeastern Argentina. International Journal of Primatology, 22(2).

Eisenberg, J., K. Redford. 1989. Mammals of the Neotropics: The Northern Neotropics. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Miller, L. 1998. Fatal attacks among wedge capped capuchins. Folia Primatologica, 69 (2): 89-92.

Miller, L., Dept. of Antropology, UC-San Diego. 1998. Primate Conservation, (18): 42-50.

Miller, L., M. Teaford. 2000. Predation and foraging in Venezuelan capuchin monkey (Cebus olivaceus). American Journal of Physical Antropology, Suppl 30: 229.

Nowak, R. 1999. Walker's Mammals of the World. Baltimore: John Hopkins University Press.