Last updated: May 27, 2024
Verified by: AZ Animals Staff
Ipaat - Public Domain

Have a very short tail for their size!


Uakari Scientific Classification

Scientific Name

Read our Complete Guide to Classification of Animals.

Uakari Conservation Status

Uakari Locations

Uakari Locations

Uakari Facts

Fruits, Leaves, Insects
Name Of Young
Group Behavior
  • Troop
Fun Fact
Have a very short tail for their size!
Estimated Population Size
Not Known
Biggest Threat
Hunting and habitat loss
Most Distinctive Feature
Hairless face and forehead
Gestation Period
Part-flooded rainforest
Hawks, Snakes, Humans
Average Litter Size
  • Diurnal
Common Name
Number Of Species
Amazon River Basin
Have a very short tail for their size!

Uakari Physical Characteristics

  • Brown
  • Red
  • Black
  • White
Skin Type
16 - 22 years
3kg - 3.5kg (6.5lbs - 7.75lbs)
38cm - 57cm (15in - 22.5in)
Age of Sexual Maturity
3 - 6 years
Age of Weaning
3 - 5 months

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Uakari Classification And Evolution

The Uakari is a species of small monkey, indigenous to the tropical rainforests of South America, where they are inclined to be found in the damp jungle close to the water. The Uakari is most renowned for its naked face which commonly ranges in color from pink to deep red. There are four distinct species of Uakari, all of which are very similar in appearance but differ somewhat in fur color and location. The name Uakari is actually pronounced “wakari”, with both the monkey’s common name and its scientific name believed to have derived from indigenous languages.

Red (Bald) Uakari. Characterized by a bright crimson face and a very short tail. Narrowed to wooded habitats and forests near the water in the western Amazon

Black-Headed Uakari. Black hair covers its body, with a red tail, limbs, and abdomen. Found in the Amazon Rainforest, most notably in Venezuela, Brazil, and Columbia.

Ayres Black Uakari. Very little is known about this species as it has such little distribution and is not located in any of the protected areas. It was originally thought that this would be treated as a subspecies of the Black-headed Uakari, rather than a separate species.

Neblina Uakari. The Neblina can be found in the northwest Amazon jungle of Brazil.

Anatomy And Appearance

The Uakari is a small-sized primate growing to an average of 45cm in length, and weighing around 3kg. The tail of the Uakari is very short relative to its body size, and particularly small compared to those of other South American monkey species. The fur that covers the Uakari’s body is long and coarse and tends to vary in color, from red to brown, to black, to white, depending on the species. The hairless face of the Uakari is their most distinctive feature and can be deep red in color in some individuals (although it generally ranges from pink to red, and can be paler or even black in some species). Their hands and feet are strong and agile with their opposable thumbs allowing the Uakari to hold onto fruits and tree branches.

Distribution And Habitat

The Uakari is found inhabiting moist, tropical rainforest only in the Amazon River Basin, throughout Brazil and Peru, and in parts of southern Columbia. The separate species tend to be most easily characterized by their differing locations, and this is also true for the sub-species of the Bald Uakari. The White Uakari is found in north-western Brazil; the Golden Uakari on the Brazil-Peru border; the Red Uakari on the Brazil-Columbia border, with the Pale-Backed Red Uakari being found just a little further east. The Uakari is generally found in jungles that fringe freshwater sources such as streams, small rivers, and lakes. They prefer part-flooded forest that is flooded either permanently or on a seasonal basis though, to areas of rainforest that line large rivers.

Behavior And Lifestyle

Unlike numerous other monkey species, the Uakari does not use its short tail to hang from the trees or to help it when jumping, although it is still useful for balance. They spend much of their time high in the canopy and jump from tree to tree just using their strong arms and legs. Like many primates, however, the Uakari is known to walk on all four limbs on its rare trips down to the forest floor. The Uakari lives in troops in their jungle environment that usually contain between 10 and 30 members (although they can be up to 100 strong), which are males, females, and their offspring. Although they spend much of their time together in the trees, when it comes to looking for food, the Uakari troop breaks up into smaller groups to forage.

Reproduction And Life Cycles

The Uakari tends to breed between the months of October and May when the females release an attractive scent to attract a mate. Once mated, the female Uakari gives birth to a single infant, after a gestation period that is still unknown, but she can do so every two years. The baby Uakari are incredibly small and vulnerable at birth, clinging to their mother for their first few months, and feeding only on her milk. They are weaned at an average age of four months old when they begin to forage with the troop for soft fruits and seed pods. The Uakari tends to live for about 20 years in the wild, but population growth rates are not particularly fast as the females can’t breed until they are three years old, and the males when they are six.

Diet And Prey

Like many other primates, the Uakari has an omnivorous diet and therefore consumes a combination of both plant material and small animals. Despite this, the Uakari primarily eats fruit from the surrounding trees, along with leaves and Insects to supplement their diet. The Uakari gets the majority of its food from high up in the canopy but will forage on the forest floor for seeds, roots, and lizards when food is scarce in the trees. Due to its predominantly fruit-based diet, the Uakari plays a vital role in its native ecosystem through the spreading of seeds throughout the forest.

Predators And Threats

Living high up in the forest canopy, and occupying these areas in sometimes quite large groups, the Uakari has few predators with the biggest threat being Birds Of Prey. Other tree-dwelling species such as Snakes and larger Monkeys also prey on the Uakari, and more particularly, their young. Humans are, however, the Uakari’s biggest threat as they have been hunted for food by the native people through much of their natural range. The rainforest habitat of the Uakari is also under threat due to high levels of logging for the timber industry throughout the Amazon Basin.

Interesting Facts And Features

Despite not having an incredibly long tail to clutch onto branches with, the strong hind legs of the Uakari enable them to be able to jump staggering distances. Jumping on their hind legs between branches, the Uakari can jump up to 20 meters from tree to tree. The colored, naked face of the Uakari is by far their most distinctive feature but the exact reason for this bright colouration is not really known. Theories range from mating reasons to being able to spot one another in the forest, but one thing is certain, which is the fact that the face of sick individuals becomes paler and so the skin color actually acts as an indication of the animal’s health. The faces of those Uakari kept in captivity, are also noticeably paler than they would have been in the wild.

Relationship With Humans

As long as native tribes have inhabited the jungle of the Amazon Basin, people and the Uakari have been known to one another. Until recently, the Uakari was seen by many indigenous people as a stable source of food, and they have been regularly hunted by them primarily using poison-tipped darts. Many were also captured by local people to be kept as domestic pets or even sold. The Uakari is now also under threat from Humans, mainly from deforestation either for commercial reasons or to expand already growing human settlements. Enormous stretches of the Amazon are still cut down on a daily basis, meaning that many of the native species (and people) lose their homes.

Conservation Status And Life Today

Today, although the different Uakari species are all classified by the IUCN slightly differently, they are generally considered to be animals that are Vulnerable in their natural environment. Hunting by indigenous people and habitat loss to logging is thought to be the two main reasons for their ever-declining population numbers, as they are now found in smaller and more isolated pockets of their natural habitats.

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About the Author

Melissa Bauernfeind was born in NYC and got her degree in Journalism from Boston University. She lived in San Diego for 10 years and is now back in NYC. She loves adventure and traveling the world with her husband but always misses her favorite little man, "P", half Chihuahua/half Jack Russell, all trouble. She got dive-certified so she could dive with the Great White Sharks someday and is hoping to swim with the Orcas as well.

Uakari FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) 

Are Uakaris herbivores, carnivores, or omnivores?

Uakaris are Omnivores, meaning they eat both plants and other animals.

What Kingdom do Uakaris belong to?

Uakaris belong to the Kingdom Animalia.

What phylum to Uakaris belong to?

Uakaris belong to the phylum Chordata.

What family do Uakaris belong to?

Uakaris belong to the family Pitheciidae.

What order do Uakaris belong to?

Uakaris belong to the order Primates.

How many Uakaris are left in the world?

The population size of the Uakari is unknown.

How to say Uakari in ...

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  11. Uakari Appearance / Accessed April 28, 2011