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Howler Monkey (Alouatta fusca)

Can you imagine someone hearing you holler from three kilometer away? Howler Monkeys have the loudest sound of any land animal, and it can be heard for three kilometers because of a bone its throat that acts like an amplifier. The noise you hear really does have a purpose. It saves the monkey energy. The male Howler Monkeys set up a howl that other male Howler Monkeys hear and respond to. In this manner they can locate one another, and avoid the territories of other Howler Monkeys. This decreases the amount of energy they have to spend fighting for territorial rights.

South America hosts the Howler Monkey. South Brazil, northern Argentina, Paraguay and Bolivia are a few countries in which this monkey lives. They enjoy the rainforests, secondary forests, mangroves and cloud forests that these places offer.

The yellow-brown female Howler Monkeys and the, often black male Howler Monkeys are well adapted to their lives high in the trees. Their greatest asset is a thick power full tail that can grab a tree branch to break their fall as they swing from limb to limb. The tail, though impressive in strength, is not pretty – one third of the tail sports a naked underside. Not surprisingly, these monkeys sleep in the highest trees.

Howler Monkeys have a very poor diet mainly consisting of leaves from the canopy they inhabit. Sometimes they supplement their leaves with fruits or other vegetation. Because of the huge amounts of leaves they consume, their digestive system has a necessary amount of cellulose-digesting bacteria.

Baby Howler Monkeys are lucky to survive. Their fathers are quick to commit infanticide (kill their babies). Once a baby is born it clings to its mother’s fur and rides on her back for up to a year. Can you blame them?

When a group of sixty-five or more Howler Monkeys meet, you would expect a little “monkeying around”. Surprisingly they spend very little time or energy socializing with one other. For the most part, the monkeys live in smaller groups of three to nineteen (sometimes larger groups are formed). The females are easy to get along with and rarely fight. The males, on the other hand, are quite driven by a chain of command and dominance. The boss decides where the group will eat and sleeps, and doesn’t put up with any insubordinance.

Did you know?

Native South American tribes hunt Howler Monkeys for food.

Howler Monkeys are easy to find because of their very noisy howling.

Habitat destruction has isolated groups of Howler Monkeys, causing great problems from inbreeding.

Further Information on the Howler Monkey:

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