Ten Questions: Florida Monkey Squirrels

Have you ever heard of a monkey squirrel? Sometimes they are called monkey face squirrel. No? Most of you haven't, but many people who live in Florida know of the monkey squirrel. These large squirrels have been mistaken for monkeys because of their uncanny monkey-like appearance. Do you want to know more?

This article is called Ten Questions, so let's move straight to the questions.

Is there really a type of squirrel known as a monkey squirrel?
Yes, there is a type of squirrel known as a monkey squirrel. This is the name people have given to this native type of fox squirrel of the state of Florida. It is not technically its real name. Also, not many other people outside of Florida know of this strange squirrel.

Why haven't I ever heard of monkey squirrels before? 
Not many people have heard of monkey squirrels because of their reclusive nature and their choice of habitat. Unlike the squirrels familiar to any urban back yard, the secretive monkey squirrels are very picky about where they'll live.

What is the real name of the monkey squirrel? 
There are two types of squirrels that may have each been called monkey squirrel. The main one is the Sherman's fox squirrel (Sciurus niger shermani), and the other is the Big Cypress fox squirrel (Sciurus niger avicennia). These are two very similar offshoots of fox squirrels that exist in different parts of Florida.The Sherman's fox squirrel is the one that people usually mean when they say monkey squirrel, but the Big Cypress fox squirrel has been called that as well.

Why are they called monkey squirrels?
People have called them monkey squirrels because of their odd, sometimes monkey-like appearance. These squirrels are bigger than most other squirrels, including most other fox squirrels. They are also known to have very long tails, much longer than usual. And their most pronounced feature is their faces. These squirrels have black faces with white around the nose on reddish brown bodies. The monkey-like appearance of their face is what mostly gives them their name.

Do monkey squirrels really look that much like monkeys?
Monkey squirrels can look like monkeys at first glance because of their odd appearance that was explained above. Monkeys and squirrels can also behave in similar ways sometimes, which contributes to that. But after a good look at them the resemblance fades more than just a bit. You might be fooled from a distance or at a glance, but not after a good look. But the name stuck.

Have these squirrels ever really been mistaken for monkeys?
Yes, they have. We have an article that links to a story where one of these squirrels was indeed mistaken multiple times for a monkey. It was reported on May 26, 2008 in a story by Jeremy Maready of  The Ledger, a Lakeland, Florida paper, that the Polk County Sheriff's Office received a call about a monkey sighting on Tom Costine Road.

What is the habitat of these monkey squirrels? What kinds of places do they live?
Monkey squirrels live in peninsular Florida to the north end of Lake Okeechobee, and is currently listed by the State of Florida as a threatened species. They like to live in areas that have open spaces, oak hammocks and longleaf pines. Oak hammocks and open spaces are easily found.

What do monkey squirrels eat?
Monkey squirrels have a simple diet of mostly pine seeds in the summer and acorns during the remainder of the year.

How many babies do monkey squirrels usually have?
Monkey squirrels have 2 to 4 young per litter and under proper conditions can raise 2 litters a year.

Just how big are monkey squirrels?
Adults may weigh more than 2 pounds and reach a total length of 26 inches. A monkey squirrel is more than twice the size of the common gray squirrel.


How did you like this interesting bit of trivia? Obviously we can't answer all questions in just one article, but if we get enough feedback and a lot of comments we might just revisit this subject with another ten questions.

Comments

  1. I'm familiar with Sherman's Fox squirrel but recently I was reading about squirrel monkeys in Florida. It is a primate from South America that was introduced to the southern part of the state as I remember. The photo was definitely a monkey, have you heard of this Ratty? A comparison of the two might make a fun story.

    ReplyDelete
  2. @SquirrelQueen
    Yes, I've read a lot about squirrel monkeys. They have contributed greatly to the confusion between these squirrels and monkeys. They look amazingly similar at times. An article about the two would definitely be a good idea.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Not just in Florida. Saw one on two different occasions near my Souther Alabama home. Been wondering what it was, glad to know now. Very interesting to look at and uncanny resemblence to monkeys.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. @Anonymous
      Maybe these fun squirrels are beginning to spread. It seems like a reasonable idea to me, especially since they are bigger than most other squirrels. Thanks for your comment.

      Delete
    2. My dad just saw these squirrels in Gulf Shores, Alabama last week. Very cute little guys. He said they were very used to begging from people.

      Delete
  4. Monkey squirrels can be very annoying especially when they get in your golf cart. I have to admit I'm somewhat afraid of them!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. @Anonymous
      I can imagine. Any squirrel with such aggressive behavior would strike a little bit of fear in anyone. I've had normal fox squirrels put a little bit of fear in me at times with their anger.

      Delete
    2. Played golf today at Rio Pinar in Orlando. These squirrels were everywhere and not shy. One did get in my golf cart after I unwrapped a granola bar. No sharing. A couple were completely black.

      Delete
  5. We just seen these squirrels inear welaka fl.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. @Anonymous
      They are very interesting squirrels aren't they? And they are unique to your part of the country.

      Delete
  6. We just seen these squirrels near wekaka fl on cisco dirt road

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. @l mcbride
      They are very interesting squirrels aren't they? And they are unique to your part of the country.

      Delete
  7. Live in Lee,Fl (65 mi east tallahasee& 20 mi west of Live Oak),seen multiple times off Hwy 53 & on back roads,so cute. It is such a shock to see one for first time!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. @gaylene
      I've been fascinated by these squirrels since the first time I ever heard of them. Most people in other parts of the country don't even believe they exist.

      Delete
    2. I saw one for the first time today in Bonita Springs Fl. I thought it looked like a squirrel but not a squirrel. It looked like some sort of monkey but not a monkey. I was so confused as to what it was. It went up a pine tree to eat a pine cone. Then a lady from the community came by and I pointed it out to her. She told me it was a 'monkey squirrel' That I thought was a perfect name and description for this beautiful animal. She also told me about them climbing into golf carts and stealing food. I was so excited to have seen it and hope that I will see more.

      Delete
  8. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  9. We have also had sightings in Josephine (Elberta) AL.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. They are fun to see, aren't they, Lynn.

      Delete
  10. There is a monkey squirrel in our community at Timber Pines in Spring Hill, Fl. I have encountered it twice on my walks. It's beautiful with its bushy tail and unusual face.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. A place called Timber Pines sounds exactly like the kind of place they would like. Thanks for your comment.

      Delete
    2. I have also seen them there, there are more than one.

      Delete
    3. WE have one running around here in Cypress Lakes Community just North of Lakeland. She was hissing at my husband who got some wonderful pictures. Very unusual.

      Delete
    4. Just saw one at Timber Pines. I LOVE seeing these fascinating creatures!!

      Delete
  11. There is a monkey squirrel in our area Royal Highlands WEEKI WACHEE fl. It wAS DRINKING WATER OUT OF THE BIRD BATH fROM jOHN & aLLISON

    ReplyDelete
  12. I saw one in Brooksville,FL. It shocked me. Had to take a better look. I was amazed that they get so close to humans.

    ReplyDelete
  13. I have a degree in Zoology. As it happens I worked in the Ocala National Forest for a summer when I was an undergrad. One day when riding through the forest with my archaeology team, I saw something running away from the road. It was NOT a squirrel; I know how squirrels run. This creature was maybe 18 inches in height and was running like a money runs--that is with its two front longer limbs extending out in an alternating pattern and the bottom half of the body being scooted along by the two shorter hind limbs sort of hoping along. To my knowledge, there are no monkeys living in the pine forests of Florida, so I don't know what this was but I am quite sure of what I saw.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Not sure how far the rhesus monkeys from Silver River have spread but a troop of these Asian monkeys was brought to the river and springs in the 1930s to authenticate the park's Jungle Cruise. These monkeys escaped and have been breeding and expanding population size since. There's an effort to capture this exotic animal as it is not indigenous to the area.

      Delete
  14. I saw one today in Garden City, South Carolina, wasn't quite sure what it was until I looked it up on line. Got a pic, and it is definitely a monkey faced squirrel! Pretty amazing!

    ReplyDelete
  15. Monkey Squirrels in southern Mississippi? My wife was horseback riding in Pass Christian MS and swore to me she saw 2 small monkies eating acorns by our house. I initially thought she was going crazy, drinking wine while riding, something of the sort. She had me google Monkey Squirrels to ensure her sanity. We discovered Monkey Squirrels are in FL and have been seen in south Alabama, well they are know in Mississippi.

    ReplyDelete
  16. There are Monkey sqyirrles her in Three Flags RV Resort in Wildwood, Florida. I have pictures which I took March 10,2013.

    ReplyDelete
  17. Saw these for the first time this week at my friend's bay front home in Point Clear,AL. They hide when pelicans fly over but are otherwise not very shy. They have chased away the little grey squirrels that we usually see feeding on acorns near the house.

    ReplyDelete
  18. Im a fl. nativ for 65yrs. I've seen these fox squirrels sence I was 5yrs. old. never heard them called monkey squirrels until today. amazing!

    ReplyDelete
  19. im a fl native for 65 years.Ive seen these fox squirrles for all my life...never heard them called monkey squirrels untill today.simply amazing!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You are right. They are FOX SQUIRRELS! Monkey Squirrel is a terrible misnomer. Like you, never heard them referred to as Monkey Squirrel. No one l know, and we see them all the time, has ever heard them called anything but FOX SQUIRRELS!

      Delete
  20. I like in Marion county Florida..I was sitting outside in my back yard having a cigrette.I seen something climbing down a tree it was small like a cat the color of it was brown with a long skinny tail and a small head.I knew afterwords it was not a cat because it climbs the trees to good..could squirrle monkeys live in Marion county? Has anyone else in Marion county seen a squrriel monkey? I do not think it was a raccoon as it was to small to be a raccoon.any replies would be helpful..Thank you

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. There are myths that monkeys are loose in Florida somewhere, bust more likely what you saw is a squirrel that lost a lot of hair on its tail. The hair loss a common occurrence, and squirrels can get pretty big in Florida.

      Delete
    2. I saw a squirrel monkey today in Ocala, Silver Springs Shores. It was the size of my cat. No one in my family had ever seen one before or heard of these giant squirrels. We debated what it was for quite some time. Some insisted it was a monkey or lemur, others swore it was a raccoon. I got very good photos with a telephoto lens and believe it was most definitely a giant squirrel. I think the monkey confusion stems from how it runs. I followed it across a road and noted that it hopped on back legs but front legs alternated - very monkey-like motion. But it definitely has a squirrel's head and tail. I'm thrilled to have seen a creature that's new to me!

      Delete
  21. These "Monkey" Squirrels are alive and well...thriving in Bassfield, Mississippi! Saw them myself last week while visiting family there. I thought is was some off-shoot of a LEMIUR!!! Way too cute!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I too thought it resembled a Lemiur

      Delete
    2. We have "monkey squirrels" so we were told when we moved here to St. James Plantation in Southport, NC. There are some that are gray body with black/white faces. We also have some all black squirrels with the same featured face. Their run is similar to a mink. We also have gray squirrels. I just thought the monkey squirrels were inbreeding with the black ones. Oops my mistake.

      Delete
    3. FOX SQUIRRELS. ... no such thing as a Monkey Squirrel. That is a complete misnomer.

      Delete
  22. True story/personal experience - Early 1980's, I'm living with my Grandmother, in a little house situated in a Florida orange grove - beautiful time of year and loving that we can leave the windows (and occasionally the doors) open letting all that wonderful orange scented air blow thru the house. One night I am having a rather vivid dream that my cat is curled up around my head - except that my cat is home in western New York State.... as I slowly rouse from my slumber - at 3am - I realize that there is indeed, 'something' sleeping with me, gently snuggled at the top of my head. I raise my head, as my eyes focus on a furry little monkey face, staring back at me with a surprised look (like, 'what woke YOU up??!!').... then it bolted off my pillow, out of the bedroom - it only took another 3 hours to coax it back OUT the front door- AND (lesson learned), we stopped leaving the front door wide open..... *sigh* it WAS kinda'cute.....

    ReplyDelete
  23. I saw one of these in my back yard. Lady Lake, Fl.
    Being from Minnesota, stopped me in my tracks.
    If i didnt see it with my own eyes ,I would not believe it. People back home dont.

    ReplyDelete
  24. I live in Ocala (Rolling Hills) and there is a lot of monkey squirrels around here.

    ReplyDelete

Post a Comment

Comments are good. Comments are fun.
You'll be glad if you leave us one.

Popular Posts