The Cebus capucinus species eat a variety of foods in their diet. Their primary diet usually consists of fruit and insects. However, they also less commonly eat vertebrate prey as well as leaves and flowers (Chapman, Fedigan 1990). Between different groups of C. capucinus, the diets can vary slightly as a result of a few factors. Many of the differences are contributed to the availability of the foods in the given groups’ areas (Chapman, Fedigan 1990). Areas where fruit and insects are less available will result in a higher occurrence of killing and eating vertebrates (Fedigan 1990). Along with availability, the tradition of a group of which food is acceptable to eat also leads to difference in diet among groups (Chapman, Fedigan 1990). Another hypothesis dealing with variance in group diet has to do with the profitability of certain foods. This is to say that the nutritional value and energy source from the food compared to the amount of energy needed to acquire the food is a profitable ratio (Chapman, Fedigan 1990). If a group has to expel too much energy for a certain food that does not return the energy or nutritional value back to the group, they will not eat that food as much.

        C. capucinus, or white-faced capuchin monkeys, find their food in a variety of ways as well. To gather insects, males generally scare them out of the ground by searching through forest floor debris, while females and young generally bite into hollow trees to find insect larva (Fedigan 1990). Other methods include removing the bark from trees, flipping rocks, and breaking open fruit on rocks (Chapman, Fedigan 1990). The hunting of vertebrates can either be done in groups or, less commonly, individually. Groups consist of mostly males that corner and chase prey until they are brought to the ground where they are then killed and eaten while still alive. Individual hunting usually involves a male who will kill a prey that is already on the ground such as a lizard or squirrel (Fedigan 1990). Although most hunting is done by males, females sometimes hunt as well but they are usually are more successful than the males at insect gathering (Fedigan 1990).


 Photo courtesy Brian Zeiler © 2008

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