How do squirrel monkeys talk?

Squirrel monkeys are native to South America and need to communicate about predators, food availability and just to socialise. They recognise each other’s faces, despite living in groups of up to 75, and make 25 to 30 vocal calls to communicate. Even squirrel monkeys that lose their hearing in early life are still capable of producing a full vocal repertoire.

Squirrel monkeys wait until it’s quiet before beginning a conversation, and if the background noise gets too loud they pause until it’s quiet again. Neighbouring squirrel monkeys fall silent when others around them are talking, and it’s built into their biology to let others talk without disturbance.

When they hear a predator approaching, they overreact and assume the worst until they have all the information. Jumping to conclusions like this is actually a survival tacts, because they prepare themselves to take extreme action regardless of the danger level.


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