Howler monkeys are not only known to be the biggest but also the loudest New World Monkeys. Whether you’re in Costa Rica or other areas of Latin and South America, you’re sure to spot these monkeys resting on treetops, eating freshly grown leaves or basically, howling. These fascinating mammals have such a character which makes them once of the favorite mammals found in the wild.
You’re in luck when you go to Costa Rica because they are found almost everywhere you go. Be it the Buena Vista Rainforest, Cabo Blanco Nature Reserve, Puerto Viejo de Sarapiquí and even in the surfing haven of Witch’s Rock, one you see fruits falling from towering trees, you know you’re close enough to spotting howler monkeys.
There are a total of 9 species of howler monkeys in the tropical jungles found in South America only and over 15 in the entire world. They’re known to have the most number of species but ironically, more and more of them are dying. Because of the lack of habitats, deforestation and the continuous commercialization of industrialized companies, they are quickly decreasing in numbers.
Anatomy and Physiology
Howler Monkeys can grow to up to a meter long which doesn’t include their 30-inch tail but the heaviest they can get is only about 10 kg. Even if they can grow quite big in size, they can still move quickly among the treetops considering they are light.
The gender of the howler monkeys can easily be distinguished from their color. Males are black and the females are brown which makes it easier for them to camouflage compared to the males.
Howler monkeys have short snouts, a wide set of round nostrils, big necks and lowered jaws. This facial structure is the main key to their loud howling that could reach up to 4 miles of distance from where they are.
One interesting part of their body is their prehensile tail. It helps them coil it around branches and secure their weight so they can reach the leaves they have to feed on. Their tails have fur on the outer layer but in the inner part, there’s no hair which adds up all the more to their easy grip.
Moving in Groups
Howler Monkeys like living in groups, each may consist of 10-15 individuals. They are not a fan of being alone and fights. They howl in order to know where the other groups of their species are so they are aware of the areas where they shouldn’t get food. Quarrels are very, very frequent but whenever it happens, it doesn’t last long.
They like to co-exist and two habits they enjoy the most doing with their fellow howlers are grooming each other and sleeping. In fact, 80% of the time, howler monkeys are found resting on treetops.
Howler monkeys inhabit treetops of swamp forests, misty forests, rainforests, thorny forests and even the jungles of high forests. All they food they need are found in trees. Even the water they get from the leaves is more than enough to suffice them for the rest of their day. It is very rare that these howler monkeys are found on the ground. This is the only time when famine, drought and poorly-maintained habitats make them go down from their trees.
Costa Rica is known to be very prosperous when it comes to wildlife. Luckily, howler monkeys like this country very much, they practically don’t leave the areas they’ve considered home. So if ever you find yourself in one of the jungles of Costa Rica and hear howling amid the trees, get your camera ready and make sure you take that priceless shot of these fascinating howler monkeys.
More info here: Mantled Howler Monkeys