Tufted Capuchin

The Tufted Capuchin, also known as Brown Capuchin or Black-capped Capuchin is a New World primate from South America. As traditionally defined, it is one of the most widespread primates in the Neotropics, but it has recently been recommended considering the Black-striped, Black and Golden-bellied Capuchins as separate species, thereby effectively limiting the Tufted Capuchin to the Amazon Basin and nearby regions.

The Tufted Capuchin is an omnivorous animal, mostly feeding on fruits and invertebrates, although it sometimes feeds on small vertebrates (e.g. lizards and bird chicks) and other plant parts. It can be found in many different kinds of environment, including moist tropical and subtropical forest, dry forest, and disturbed or secondary forest.

Like other capuchins, it is a social animal, forming groups of 8 to 15 individuals that are led by an alpha or dominant male.

Physical characteristics

The Tufted Capuchin is more powerfully built than the other capuchins, with rougher fur and a short, thick tail. It has a bundle of long, hardened hair on the forehead that can be raised as a sort of "wig". The fur is brownish gray, with the belly being somewhat lighter-colored than the rest of the body. The hands and feet are black. The tail is strong and can be used as a grasping tail.

The Tufted Capuchin has a head-body length of 32 to 57 cm, a tail length of 38 to 56 cm, and a weight of 1.9 to 4.8 kg, with the males generally being larger and heavier than the females.

Distribution and habitat

This species lives in the northern Amazon rainforest of the Guyanas and Brazil to the west of the Rio Negro, as far north as the Orinoco in Venezuela. It can be found in a large variety of forest types, mainly in tropical rainforests (up till a height of 2700 m), but also in more open forests.

The distribution overlaps with that of other species of capuchins, such as the White-fronted Capuchin.

The Tufted Capuchin is a diurnal, arboreal primate species, but it often forages on the ground to search for food or to walk longer distances between trees that are too far apart to jump. During the night, the capuchin rests in a hollow tree or between dense branches.

The Tufted Capuchin lives a solitary life, or in groups of two to twenty animals. A single group usually contains only one adult male, but mixed groups with multiple males do also occur. In that case, one of the males is dominant. He accepts only a few monkeys in his direct surroundings, mainly younger animals and a few females. The dominant male and the group members that are close to him have the privilege to eat first in case of food scarcity, while subordinate monkeys have to wait until they are ready.

As opposed to some other capuchins, a group of Tufted Capuchins has no fixed territory. Different groups are often encountered in the same area.

After a gestation period of 180 days, one young is born, or incidentally a twin. This young, which weighs only 200 to 250 grams, is carried on the back of its mother. The mother feeds her child for 9 months, but the young is sexually immature until its seventh year, which is quite late for a primate of its size.

Important natural enemies of the capuchin are large birds of prey. They are so afraid of those birds, that they even become alarmed when a harmless bird flies over.

The Tufted Capuchin rubs urine on its hands and feet in order to attract mates and reduce stress.


A well-known characteristic of this species is that it uses stones as a tool to open hard nuts. First it lays the nut on a large, flat stone, after which it hammers with a smaller stone until the nut is opened. Besides nuts, it also eats fruit, insects, larvae, eggs, young birds, frogs, lizards, and even bats. They are also known to chase cats. The Tufted Capuchin looks for its food in groups. As soon as one of the group members has found something edible, he or she may make a large whistling sound, dependent upon the proximity of other individuals and abundance of the food resource, so that the other monkeys know that there is something to eat. The composition of the group is very well-organized, and is determined by rank in the hierarchy. The dominant male often resides somewhere in the middle of the group just behind the front line, so that it is safer when a predator attacks. The vanguard is composed of higher-ranked females who are tolerated by the dominant male. They have the privilege to reach the food first, but they are also the most vulnerable when a predator attacks.



Pets for sale - Latest ads