Sakis Pithecia

There are four species of Sakis and many, many subspecies. There is little known about the Saki Pithecia due to short observation time, the longest of which we read about was three hours. Much of the information that we found seemed controversial, but we’ll try to organize it and explain it the best we can.


Species Other Names HBL(cm) TL(cm) WT(kg)

Pithecia Pithecia White-faced Saki Female 33.5 34-43.5 1.5-1.9

White-headed Saki Male 33-37.5 35-44.5 1.9-2.1

P. Monachus Red-bearded Saki Female 40.4 45 2.2

Monk Saki Male 40-44 45-47 2.5

Hairy Saki

P. Albicans Buffy Saki Female 36.5-40.5 40.5-45.5 ?

White Saki Male 40-41 42-44 ?

P. Hirsuta Black-bearded Saki Female 38-46 40-48 ?

Male 38-44 44-50 ?

Specific to Saki Pithecia pithecia:


    • Females have brown-brown gray fur
    • With white-pale brown stripes around the corners of the nose and mouth
    • This hair is shorter
    • Males have black fur
    • With white reddish forehead, face, and throat


    • Guianas and Northeastern Brazil
    • They like the understory and lower canopy levels

General to the Saki family:

Physical Description:


    • Fur is coarse and the hairs are very long
    • Tail is long and bushy
    • Cheeks and forehead is covered by broad mask of stiff hair which is yellowish-white to ochre-yellow in the male
    • The female has shorter hair and it is black with white stripe on each side of the nose
    • Except for the pale-headed Saki-- whose wig-like forehead fringe is absent and the central part of the face around the eyes, nose, and mouth is black and almost naked
    • Usually the fur is dusky gray or blackish brown
    • Individual hairs often have silvery, yellow, or ochre colored tips
    • The back of the hand is either black or white
    • Yet overall there is incredible variation


    • Frontal thyroid cartilage of the larynx is enlarged as a resonating chamber

Brain Size:

    • 2cc-1000cc
    • 80gm according to Body Size/Brain Size


    • Aboreal—they jump from limb to limb
    • They have tremendous jumping abilities
    • When they walk they walk on two legs with their arms up in the air


    • 12-15yrs in captivity
    • 12-25yrs in the wild

Geographic Location:

    • Rainforest of Central South America
    • From the Orinoco river north of the Amazon to the Guianas and around upper Amazon
    • Except for the White-nosed Saki which is restricted to an area South of the Amazon between the rivers Madeira and Xingu
    • Some live south of Brazil
    • Others live in eastern Colombia, Southern Venezuela



    • The White-faced Sakis is most commonly seen in the understory and lower canopy levels
    • All live in the trees, only the levels vary
    • Some like high rain forests that flood
    • Others like dryer forests
    • Some like savannas

Other living standards:

    • Careful diet
    • High degree of humidity
    • Large space for movement

Home Range:

    • Generally extremely large home ranges

Day Range:

    • They may travel several kilometers in a day

Population Density:

    • Small groups of 2-5 individuals
    • Some may live in large social groups of up to 50 individuals
    • Sometimes individual groups join together


    • Some are very specific and stick to fruits and seeds
    • Generally they eat berries, nuts, leaves, other plant material, small birds, other mammals (bats), grasshoppers, and mealworms


    • They use hind limb suspension when eating
    • They forage alone during the day unless food is scarce then they forage in small groups
    • They are greedy eaters
    • They take as much food as possible into their hands and toes and eat quickly, looking around for more
    • They drink by putting their hands in the water and sucking fluid from the cupped hands
    • They also suck the water off their fur

Social Organization:

Group Size:

    • They move in pairs or small family groups
    • Sometimes individual groups will combine


    • Mother, father, and any young offspring

Male-female transfer:

    • They secrete a tangerine like scent

Foraging Parties:

    • Unless there is lack of food, they forage alone and eat alone


    • Some rage if their "beards" are wet but they are easily tamed
    • They are very passive animals


    • They don’t use tools or manipulate objects in their environment
    • All of their movements are deliberate
    • They use a coughing call to communicate
    • When alarmed they use a long drown out yell
    • They cup their hands to drink water
    • They are hesitant when climbing down trees. Like humans they make sure each step/tree limb is secure


    • They are monogamous

Birth Seasonality:

    • Unknown

Male/female age of sexual maturity:

    • Males 3yrs and females 2yrs

Gestation Length:

    • 163-176 days----Known for the White-faced Saki

Litter Size:

    • 1 young per birth

Interbirth Interval:

    • Unknown

Parental Care:

    • Relationships between mothers and offspring exists up to a year or two after the birth of the next infant


    • NO

Topics of Special Interest:

    • When young the offspring cling to their mothers’ belly—this is unusual for most New World monkeys which sit on their mothers’ back
    • They drink by soaking their hands in water and licking it
    • If you were to put water on their beard the monkey would start to rage, but they are easily tamed
    • They are characterized by their unusual dental specialization’s
    • They have robust incisors and canines to open seed cases and their broad, flat molars for crushing fruits and seeds
























Cristina, Evan, Kelly, Lain, John, Jamie

Bibliography Page

Euclid, Smith O. "Social Play in Primates." Academia Press, Inc. 1978

Fleagle, John G. "Primate Adaptation & Evolution." Academic Press, Inc. New York.1988. 120-123

Grzimek’s Animal Life Encyclopedia. Dr.Dr.h.c. Bernhard Grzimek. Van Nostrand Reinhold Co. 1972: 136-138, 172, 332-335

The International Wildlife Encyclopedia. Volume 15. Page. 2010

Macmillan Illustrated Animal Encyclopedia. Page 62

Sanderson, Ivan T. "The Monkey Kingdom." Double Day & Co. Inc. Ganden City, New York

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