Brown Capuchin Fact File


Brown capuchins have a thin, slender body with long limbs. Their body color can vary from a light brown to mustard yellow. On the underside and shoulders they have lighter colored fur. The top of their head features a black cap of fur and sideburns of a similar colour which run down the side of their face. There are black tufts of fur above the ears. On the heads, feet and tail their fur is a darker brown or black.

They have a long tail which is partly prehensile and can help them to hold on to branches when climbing. When walking the tail is held in a tight coil. Brown capuchins are the only capuchin to do this. This tail may measure between 41 and 49cm (16-19.5in).

Males are larger than females. An average brown capuchin will measure 33-42cm (13-17in) long. Their weight varies from 3-4.5kg (6.5-10lbs).


Brown capuchins are omnivorous. They feed on a range of fruits, nuts, seeds, flowers, leaves and small animals such as frogs, reptiles, birds, insects and bats. These monkeys have also been observed hunting other monkeys.

Their diet is variable with the availability of food across the seasons.

brown capuchin

Scientific Name

Sapajus paella

Conservation Status

Least Concern


3-4.5kg (6.5-10lbs)


33-42cm (13-17in)


45 years



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South America is the native home of the brown capuchin. Here they can be found in Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, French Guiana, Guyana, Peru, Suriname and Venezuela.


They make their home in a wide range of forest, mangroves and savanna forest habitats across the Amazon basin. Most of their time is spent in the mid-canopy and understory.

brown capuchin


Brown capuchins can breed year round. They live in a group and the females will mate with the dominant male. Typically non-dominant males will take the opportunity to mate if the dominant male is distracted.

One way they may show an interest in mating is to raise and hold their eyebrows for an extended period.

Their gestation period lasts 150-160 days. At the conclusion of this one infant is normally born though on rare occasions twins can occur. At birth the average weight for an infant is 210g (7.4oz).

Females care for the young with little assistance from the male. Other females in the group will help with the care and carry the baby for a period of time.

For the first few months of its life the baby will cling to its mother body and she carries them everywhere. They will start to move on their own by 3 months old.

Weaning occurs at around 16 months old though can occur earlier in captivity. This means females typically breed only once every two years.

Females mature first at around 4 years of age with males not maturing till 7. This occurs much later than most monkeys of a similar size.

Once a male is mature it will leave the group it was born in. Females typically remain in the same group for life.


Brown capuchins form a troop made up of 8-14 members. These groups typically contain more females than males. It is lead by a dominant male and he is the only one who mates but other males may be present.

Groups form a loose home range though often this overlaps with other groups and they appear tolerant of other groups foraging near them. They will make efforts to move rival groups out of their range though lead by the dominant male.

Different members of the group will often be observed grooming one another.

To access food they have been observed making use of tools such as using rocks to crack open nuts.

They are active by day and most of their time is spent foraging though they may take a nap break during the middle of the day. They are considered arboreal and most of their time is spent in the trees.

Individuals will scent mark themselves by urinating on their hands and rubbing these through their fur.

Brown capuchins make a range of vocalizations to communicate with other members of their troop.

Another form of communication used is facial gestures with many different types used to express different emotions.

Groups of squirrel monkeys may follow the brown capuchin who show them new food sources.

brown capuchin

Predators and Threats

Brown capuchins face predation from a number of species including predatory birds such as the harpy eagle, cats including the jaguar, puma and jaguarundis, coyotes, tayras, snakes and crocodiles.

When a predator is spotted group members whistle to one another. This call is typically made by the dominant male to attract attention to him and protect the rest of the troop.

They are hunted for the bush meat trade and to be sold as pets. Their intelligence and playful nature have made them popular pets overseas.

While listed as least concern across their entire range some populations may be locally threatened.

Quick facts

The brown capuchin is also known as the tufted capuchin.

Brown capuchins are the monkeys which are associated with organ grinders.

Capuchin monkeys were named for their resemblance to the capuchin monkeys mainly stemming from the black cap of fur which was thought to resemble their hood and robe.

Photo Credits


Emcc83 / CC BY-SA (

Middle and Bottom

Under license


Burnie, D., 2011. Animal. 3rd ed. London: DK

Anderson, R. 2003. "Cebus apella" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed August 11, 2020 at

Edinburgh Zoo. 2020. Brown Capuchin Monkey | Edinburgh Zoo. [online] Available at: <> [Accessed 11 August 2020].

Gron KJ. 2009 April 17. Primate Factsheets: Tufted capuchin (Cebus apella) Behavior . <>. Accessed 2020 August 11.

Hamilton Zoo. 2020. Brown Capuchin Monkey. [online] Available at: <> [Accessed 11 August 2020].

Boubli, J., Alves, S.L., Buss, G., Calouro, A.M., Carvalho, A., Ceballos-Mago, N., Heymann, E.W., Lynch Alfaro, J., Martins, A.B., Messias, M., Mittermeier, R.A., Mollinedo, J., Moscoso, P., Palacios, E., Ravetta, A., Rumiz, D.I., Rylands, A.B., Shanee, S., Stevenson, P.R., de la Torre, S. & Urbani, B. 2020. Sapajus apella. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2020: e.T172351505A172353050. Downloaded on 11 August 2020.

PerthZooWebsite. 2020. Tufted Capuchin. [online] Available at: <> [Accessed 11 August 2020].

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