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Predation of a squirrel monkey (Saimiri sciureus) by an Amazon tree boa (Corallus hortulanus): even small boids may be a potential threat to small-bodied platyrrhines


Predation has been suggested to play a major role in the evolution of primate ecology, although reports of predation events are very rare. Mammalian carnivores, raptors, and snakes are known predators of Neotropical primates, and most reported attacks by snakes are attributed to Boa constrictor (terrestrial boas). Here, we document the predation of a squirrel monkey (Saimiri sciureus) by an Amazon tree boa (Corallus hortulanus), the first record of the predation of a platyrrhine primate by this boid. The event was recorded during a nocturnal herpetological survey in the Piratuba Lake Biological Reserve, in the north-eastern Brazilian Amazon. The snake was encountered at 20:00 hours on the ground next to a stream, at the final stage of ingesting the monkey. The C. hortulanus specimen was 1620 mm in length (SVL) and weighed 650 g, while the S. sciureus was a young adult female weighing 600 g, 92 % of the body mass of the snake and the largest prey item known to have been ingested by a C. hortulanus. The evidence indicates that the predation event occurred at the end of the afternoon or early evening, and that, while capable of capturing an agile monkey like Saimiri, C. hortulanus may be limited to capturing small platyrrhines such as callitrichines.

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We thank the Instituto Chico Mendes de Conservação e Biodiversidade (ICMBio), Instituto de Pesquisas Científicas e Tecnológicas do Estado do Amapá (IEPA), and Áreas Protegidas da Amazônia (ARPA) for technical, logistical, and financial support for fieldwork in the study area, and the staff of the Biological Reserve, especially Patricia Pinha, for help during the different phases of this research. We also thank Robert Henderson and Eckhard Heymann for their helpful comments on the original version of the manuscript. SFF is grateful to CNPq (process no. 303994/2011-8) and CAPES (process no. 99999.001536/2015-00) for supporting his research.

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Correspondence to Marco Antônio Ribeiro-Júnior.

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Ribeiro-Júnior, M.A., Ferrari, S.F., Lima, J.R.F. et al. Predation of a squirrel monkey (Saimiri sciureus) by an Amazon tree boa (Corallus hortulanus): even small boids may be a potential threat to small-bodied platyrrhines. Primates 57, 317–322 (2016).

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  • Amazonia
  • Boid snake
  • Cebidae
  • Platyrrhini
  • Stomach contents