HOWLER MONKEY

Scientific Name: Alouatta pigra

Howler Monkeys are some of Costa Rica’s loudest inhabitants. It is said that the call of a howler monkey can be heard for 3-4 miles even through the thick tropical forest.

Howlers live in small groups of about 12 individuals. Scientists believe that the dominant male of the group uses his loud voice to keep the group spaced out enough so they don’t have to compete for food.


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Howler Monkeys are vegetarians, and eat mostly leaves, fruits, and flowers.

A Howler Monkey grows to be about 2 feet in length, not including it’s 30-inch tail, making it the largest monkey found in the Americas. Howlers weigh about 15 pounds when they reach adulthood. They have a lifespan of about 20 years.

Male Howler Monkeys are black in color, while the females are brown. The brownish color allows the females to camouflage themselves from predators. The young howler monkeys cling to their mother’s stomach for the first few months of their lives and are most vulnerable to predators, like the harpy eagle.

Like other herbivorous monkeys, the Howler Monkey eats mostly leaves, fruit and flowers.

Compared to other monkeys, Howler Monkeys don’t travel very much. They prefer to stay within their small communities. This makes them very susceptible to habitat destruction. The Howler Monkey is an endangered species throughout its entire range.

Howler Monkeys are arboreal, meaning that they spend their whole lives in the tree tops. Howlers are also diurnal, meaning they’re active during the daytime. However, they spend most of their time in the canopy of the lowland rainforests, making them pretty difficult to spot from the ground.

They are hunted for food by local tribes and also exported as pets (though they make terrible pets, because they are social animals and very loud). They are easily located because of their loud calls.

Some scientists estimate the Howler Monkey could become extinct in our lifetime.


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Howler Monkeys are pretty inactive, covering only 400m in a day and sleeping 15 hours a day. This makes them one of the slowest mammals in the tropical forest, except for sloths.

Dave Freeman is the Executive Director of the Wilderness Classroom. Dave and Amy Freeman have traveled over 30,000 miles by kayak, canoe and dogsled through some of the world’s wildest places. National Geographic named the Dave and Amy Adventurers of the Year in 2014.

When the Freemans aren’t on expeditions or conducting school assemblies, they guide canoe, kayak and dogsled trips.

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