34 Types of MONKEYS That Live in Asia! (2024)

What kinds of monkeys live in Asia?

If you visit Asia, it’s only natural to ask yourself the above question. I mean, who doesn’t want to see monkeys!?

Luckily, there are quite a few species you should be able to find. So, keep reading to learn how to identify each primate. Plus, you are going to learn some fun and interesting facts. Pictures and range maps are also included!

34 monkey species that live in Asia:


#1. Long-tailed Macaque

  • Macaca fascicularis

Also known as the Crab-eating Macaque or Cynomolgus Monkey.

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults are 38-55 cm (15-22 in) long with tails that reach 40-65 cm (16-26 in).
  • They have gray or brown coats that grow paler on the underparts and a white strip of hair on the upper lip that looks like a mustache.

Long-tailed Macaques make their home in shrublands, lowland rainforests, and coastal forests. But watch out; these cheeky monkeys might sometimes raid farms or dumpsters for a snack. They’re even known to steal food right from your hand!

Speaking of snacks, these monkeys in Asia aren’t picky.

They love fruit, but they’ll also forage for roots, leaves, and small critters. Plus, they’re super smart! They peel sweet potatoes with their teeth, wash their food before eating, and use rocks to bash clams, crabs, and oysters open.

Long-tailed Macaques are social creatures. They live in groups of 20 to 100, mostly made up of females and their young. When the males grow up, they venture out to find a new group of their own. Fights within a group are frequent, but these clever monkeys usually reconcile afterward to keep the peace.


#2. Rhesus Macaque

  • Macaca mulatta

Also known as the Rhesus Monkey.

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults are 47-53 cm (19-21 in) long, and their tails are 21-23 cm (8-9 in).
  • They have bare pink faces and large ears.
  • Their fur coats are pale auburn or grayish brown.

These monkeys in Asia thrive in various habitats, from grasslands to wooded regions and tropical forests. If you’re lucky enough to come across a troop, you might see up to 200 individuals hanging out, even in urban areas. You’ll quickly notice that Rhesus Macaques are energetic and social! Always on the move, they love to play on the ground and in the trees. However, they become lazier during the hotter seasons.

When it’s snack time, these monkeys love to chow down on fruits, roots, bark, and even bugs! They’ve got cheek pouches that act like little food storage units. Just be wary of Rhesus Macaques that comb through garbage cans. They might be a little too comfortable around humans and try to snag your snacks!

Unfortunately, rival groups of these monkeys tend to be violent. They’ll even attempt to kill each other upon their first meeting. Fighting within groups is also common. And once they’ve had a conflict, they tend to hold grudges for life!


#3. Assam Macaque

  • Macaca assamensis

Also known as the Assamese Macaque.

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults are 51-74 cm (20-29 in) long, with 15-30 cm (6-12 in) tails.
  • Their faces are pale and hairless.
  • Their coats range from light gray to reddish brown. Pale-colored hair covers their chests and bellies.

You can find these monkeys in Asia in groups of up to 50 individuals!

Assam Macaques love swinging among the branches, but occasionally, they take a break on the forest floor. They rarely travel, preferring to stay within their territories. Most of their days are spent foraging for food and resting.

These primates are flexible eaters. They love to chow down on fruit when it’s abundant, but otherwise, they turn to young leaves to fill their bellies. Sometimes, these monkeys steal wheat and corn from farms. Though they accept direct handouts from humans, be careful! Interacting with this species can spread disease. 

Assam Macaque males leave their troop to find their own group when they reach maturity, like most other primate species. However, unlike other monkeys, males actively help care for the little ones in their troops, even those they don’t share blood with.


#4. Northern Pig-tailed Macaque

  • Macaca leonina

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults are 40-60 cm (16-24 in), with 14-25 cm (6-10 in) long tails that curl like a pig’s.
  • Their puffy facial hair forms a rough heart shape.
  • They have olive-gray coats of fur that are paler on the undersides.

The Northern Pig-tailed Macaque is playful and crafty. Regarding food, these monkeys know how to mix things up. They enjoy fruits, shoots, leaves, insects, and bird eggs. Just be warned: these clever creatures might sneak into human settlements searching for bread and biscuits during the colder months. Keep your windows closed!

These monkeys in Asia live in tree and bamboo forests.

Some individuals like to show off their resourcefulness by feeding on stinging caterpillars. They cleverly rub their prey on leaves to remove the stingers before eating to avoid getting hurt.

Northern Pig-tailed Macaques are graceful in the trees and on the forest floor. Females lead social groups of up to 150 members. During feeding time, they split into smaller units. As peaceful creatures, they find it easy to share territories and coexist with neighboring troops.


#5. Bengal Slow Loris

  • Nycticebus bengalensis

Also known as the Northern Slow Loris.

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults are 26-38 cm (10-15 in) long.
  • They have huge eyes, small ears, and protruding snouts.
  • Their thick wooly coats are brown-gray, with a dark stripe running across the middle of their backs. Their eyes are outlined with dark fur.

The Bengal Slow Loris loves to hang out in evergreen and deciduous forests. It may be slow, as its name suggests, but this cute primate easily moves through the dense canopy. However, be careful: it’s got sharp teeth and can deliver a painful bite if provoked!

These monkeys in Asia are highly adapted to their environment. Thanks to their specialized eyes, they can see at night with ease. Additionally, they have opposable thumbs (like us!) that help them latch onto tree trunks. Most interestingly, female lorises combine secretions from a gland in their elbows with their saliva, creating a toxic substance they rub on their babies. This keeps predators away from their little ones!

The Bengal Slow Loris loves to eat sap and resin. It uses its sharp teeth to gouge the tree bark and its long tongue to scoop out the fluids inside. It also has a taste for nectar and occasionally feeds on swarms of insects.


#6. Capped Lutung

  • Trachypithecus pileatus

Also known as the Capped Langur, Capped Leaf Monkey.

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults are 56-62 cm (22-24 in) long, with thick, long tails.
  • Long blonde hair frames their black faces, except for the hair at the crown, which is black.
  • Their coats are brown or gray, though the underparts are yellowish or orange.

These monkeys live in lush montane and tropical forests in Asia.

Sadly, hunting and habitat loss are threatening their population. 

Capped Lutungs are a rare sight on the ground, so keep an eye on the treetops. Instead of visiting rivers and streams, they usually drink water that gathers on the leaves and cavities of trees.

The leaves that make up most of their diet are lacking in nutrition, so they need to spend a lot of time eating to get enough calories. They also consume fruits, seeds, and flowers to supplement their diet. 

You’ll find Capped Lutungs lounging about when they’re not busy eating or finding food. In fact, they like to start their day by climbing to the top of the canopy and soaking up the sun’s rays. Their groups are small, with up to 14 members and an alpha male leading the way. 


#7. Stump-tailed Macaque

  • Macaca arctoides

Also known as the Bear Macaque.

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults are 49-65 cm (19-26 in) long. Their hairless tails are only 3-7 cm (1-3 in) long.
  • They have bare pink faces that grow more vibrant as they age.
  • Their thick coats range from pale to dark brown. You can identify older individuals by their bald spots.

Evergreen and broadleaf forests are home to Stump-tailed Macaques. Thanks to their thick and cozy fur, these resilient monkeys in Asia are not afraid of a little cold weather. Unlike most monkeys, they prefer staying on the ground. Their stocky, muscular bodies are built for walking, not swinging among branches!

When it comes to food, fruits are the Stump-tailed Macaque’s favorite. However, they also love munching on leaves, roots, seeds, insects, frogs, and freshwater crabs. If there’s a farm nearby, they may raid the fields for corn, rice, and potatoes. Cleverly, they use their cheek pouches to store food for later consumption.

Stump-tailed Macaques are a remarkably peaceful species. You won’t see much violence within their ranks. If confrontations happen, they quickly resolve these and restore order. Up to 60 members make up a community, with adult males acting as the protectors. 


#8. Himalayan Gray Langur

  • Semnopithecus schistaceus

Also known as the Nepal Gray Langur or Nepal Sacred Langur.

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults are 51-79 cm (20-31 in) long with 69-102 cm (27-40 in) tails.
  • Long white hair frames their deep black faces.
  • They have brown-gray coats of fur with lighter undersides.

As their name suggests, these primates are endemic to the Himalayan region. They love to spend time on the ground and up among trees. Himalayan Gray Langurs pick out the highest branches to sleep on at night. They’re speedy runners that can leap a whopping five meters (16.4 feet) with their strong hind limbs!

These monkeys in Asia enjoy munching on leaves, fruits, and insects.

Sometimes, they lick rocks and eat dirt to get their daily dose of salt and minerals. Interestingly, they often eat the leaves of strychnine trees, which are highly toxic. To counter that, these clever langurs eat gum from Kulu trees. It’s a natural laxative, eliminating the poison faster.

When it comes to socializing, female Himalayan Gray Langurs usually have good relationships. The males, on the other hand, can be unpredictable. One minute they’re all getting along, and the next, a fight could break out! But don’t worry; it’s all part of their playful nature.


#9. Phayre’s Leaf Monkey

  • Trachypithecus phayre

Also known as the Phayre’s Langur.

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults are 50-58 cm (20-23 in) long with 70-75 cm (28-30 in) long tails.
  • Their faces are strikingly blue with white rings around their eyes and mouths.
  • They have long tufts of fur on their cheeks and crowns and silvery coats that grow paler towards the undersides.

Phayre’s Leaf Monkeys in Asia are the gymnasts of the primate world!

They love to swing and soar through tropical and evergreen forests but can be shy. If you try to get too close, they’ll dart into the dense foliage faster than you can say, “monkeying around!” 🙂

Living in groups of up to 30, a strong alpha male leads females and their offspring. Young males are forced to leave the group before they grow old enough to challenge the alpha. Curiously, rival groups of Phayre’s Leaf Monkeys avoid each other but have no problem sharing ranges with other primate species.

Phayre’s Leaf Monkeys mostly feed on young leaves, but they know that’s not enough to keep them healthy. So, they mix it up with fruits, flowers, and bamboo shoots to get the necessary vitamins and minerals. Their multi-chambered stomachs are incredibly efficient, so they can get every nutrient possible from their food.


#10. Dusky Leaf Monkey 

  • Trachypithecus obscurus

Also known as the Spectacled Langur, Spectacled Leaf Monkey, and Dusky Langur.

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults are 60-67 cm (24-26 in) long with tails that are 50-85 cm (20-33 in) long.
  • They have gray faces and white lips. The white rings around their eyes look like glasses!
  • Their coats are shades of brown, black, or gray. The underparts are paler in contrast.

To see Dusky Leaf Monkeys in Asia, visit a national park.

These primates are a delightful sight and plentiful on nature reserves. In the wild, they inhabit tropical and coastal forests. Up to 20 individuals form a troop guarded by an alpha male. No need to worry about monkey business, though, because conflicts between groups are rare and usually sorted out quickly!

Dusky Leaf Monkeys are impressively acrobatic, using their long tails for balance as they jump from branch to branch. However, they have a quirky habit of sitting still for long periods, comfy and cozy on their padded bottoms. Their keen eyesight also lets them judge distances with great accuracy.

Though their teeth are specifically adapted to munch on leaves, they also love eating shoots, flowers, and fruits. Dusky Leaf Monkeys have enlarged salivary glands to help break down all that tough cellulose in their food. Plus, the bacteria in their stomachs neutralize any harmful toxins. Quite handy, if you ask me!


#11. Indochinese Gray Langur 

  • Trachypithecus crepusculus
Image Credit (left): tontantravel, (right): Rushen, via Wikimedia Commons

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults are 44-61 cm (17-24 in) long with 65-86 cm (26-34 in) tails.
  • They have white patches of skin around their eyes and lips.
  • The thick fur on their cheeks and crowns make their heads appear triangular.
  • Their blue-gray coats are lighter gray underneath.

Indochinese Gray Langurs are found in the undisturbed forests of Asia. These majestic creatures prefer to stay high in the trees, so look up if you want to see them in action! Sadly, these wonderful creatures are constantly threatened by poaching and loss of habitat.

These playful primates love to hang out in groups of up to 20 individuals. Most of them are mama langurs and their little ones, with at least one adult male in each group. Then, with a high-pitched roar, an alpha male will let you know if you’re intruding on his land. And if you see a baby langur crying on the ground, don’t get too close! Soon, its mother will climb down to rescue it.

In terms of food, Indochinese Gray Langurs love a good feast of figs, tree gum, seeds, and bamboo shoots. But their favorite dish of all time is leaves! However, leaves take a long time to break down and don’t provide much energy, so these langurs usually doze off after eating.


#12. Indochinese Lutung

  • Trachypithecus germaini

Also known as Germain’s Langur.

Image Credit (right): Long Vu, via Wikimedia Commons

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults are about 55 cm (22 in) long, with tails up to 78 cm (31 in) long.
  • They have a thick silver crest on top of their heads. Similar tufts grow out from their cheeks.
  • A thin mustache adorns their bare black faces, and their coats are a blend of silver and dark gray.

Residing in lowland, mangrove, and evergreen forests, Indochinese Lutungs are most active when the sun is up. By munching on leaves and branches, these monkeys in Asia actually help to prune and keep trees healthy! Unfortunately, despite their helpful efforts, their habitat is threatened by development and logging. 

Come mealtime, Indochinese Lutungs love chowing down on lots of leaves, fruits, and flowers. Interestingly, they have a special set of microbes in their multi-chambered stomachs, which helps break down all that fibrous food. After eating, they usually take long naps while waiting for their food to digest.

Indochinese Lutungs hang out in troops with up to 50 members. When babies are born, they cling to their mamas for the first few months. These babies are also vivid orange in color, making it easy for adults to keep an eye on them. So cute!


#13. Lar Gibbon

  • Hylobates lar

Also known as the White-handed Gibbon or Malayan Lar Gibbon.

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults are 44-59 cm (17-23 in) long. As apes, they lack tails.
  • Take note of the ring of white fur framing their black faces.
  • White fur also covers their hands and feet.
  • Males range from black to shades of brown, while females are cream or light brown.

Meet the eccentric Lar Gibbon, which is technically not a monkey in Asia!

These primates are apes, which is a different family than monkeys. They don’t have tails and tend to be larger and have broader chests than monkeys. Additionally, most apes do not have hair on their faces!

If you’re lucky, you might hear these gibbons singing in pairs to claim their territory. With powerful throat sacs, their voices can be heard up to a 1 km (0.6 mi) radius! They live in close-knit families of two to six members, forming lifelong bonds with their mates.

You won’t want to miss this primate’s acrobatic feats! Despite not having a tail, Lar Gibbons can balance on high branches by holding their long arms above their heads. Plus, this species has special wrist joints to swing through the canopy at speeds up to 56 km/h (35 mph)! They can clear a gap of 8 meters (26.2 feet) between trees in a single leap.

Lar Gibbons have a diet of fruits, shoots, leaves, and insects. However, their favorite food is ripe figs. As the day ends, they retire to the tallest trees, where they amusingly sleep upright. But don’t worry, their rumps are covered with leathery skin, so they don’t fall off!


#14. Siamang

  • Symphalangus syndactylus

Identifying Characteristics:

  • These tailless primates are about 90 cm (35 in) long.
  • Their arms are longer than their entire bodies!
  • You’ll notice their bald throat sacs inflating to the size of their heads just before they bellow out a call.
  • They have thick shaggy coats of black hair.

The Siamang is the largest of all gibbon species. These formidable primates make their home in lowland and mountain forests in Asia, especially where there’s an abundance of figs. Considering their size and speed, it’s no wonder they have no natural predators.

Siamangs are a sight to behold as they glide through the treetops with their long arms. The catch, however, is that those long arms make them look clumsy while walking on the ground. They spend most of their day searching for food, and the rest they save for relaxing. Their diet consists of fruits, tender leaves, and occasionally insects.

Siamangs live in close-knit family units of three to six individuals, and adults mate for life. They like to make their presence known to neighboring groups by singing in unison. Just make sure to cover your ears. Siamangs are known to be louder than other gibbons, with calls that can pierce through 2 km (1.2 mi) of dense jungle foliage!


#15. Southern Pig-tailed Macaque

  • Macaca nemestrina

Also known as the Sundaland Pig-tailed Macaque, Sunda Pig-tailed Macaque, and Berok.

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults are 38-58 cm (15-23 in) long. They have curled, pig-like tails measuring 13-25 cm (5-10 in) long.
  • There’s a dark patch of hair on the crown of their heads, and short dark lines run vertically from the outer rims of their eyes.
  • Their coats are yellowish brown to gray.

Southern Pig-tailed Macaques are a lively species that gather in bands of 15 to 40 individuals. They are expert climbers, but they prefer walking on land. Male ranks are determined by physical strength, while female ranks are inherited from their mothers. Amusingly, females “kiss” after fighting to make amends.

What makes Southern Pig-tailed Macaques unique among primates is that they love water. So if you happen upon a river, keep an eye out for these monkeys swimming along the currents. 

Southern Pig-tailed Macaques split into smaller groups when foraging for food. They climb to the tops of trees in search of their favorite fruits, like papayas and figs. If they’re near a farm, they might even raid a cornfield. One monkey acts as a sentry, and if it spots danger, it will sound an alarm call to alert the troop.


#16. Southern Yellow-cheeked Gibbon

  • Nomascus gabriellae

Also known as the Golden-cheeked Gibbon, Red-cheeked Gibbon, and Buff-cheeked Gibbon.

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults are 60-80 cm (24-31 in). Like other apes, they have no tails.
  • Adult males have black coats with distinctive yellow fur on their cheeks.
  • Adult females are blonde. They have a patch of black hair on the top of their heads.

High in the lush treetops of jungles and lowland forests, the elusive Southern Yellow-cheeked Gibbon makes it home. These apes are fruit fanatics but supplement their diet with leaves, insects, and flowers during dry seasons. 

The Southern Yellow-cheeked Gibbon is a gravity-defying acrobat with long limbs and a short body. It uses its momentum to swing across trees. At peak velocity, it can clear a whopping 10 meters (32 feet) between branches! And don’t worry about ground predators—this clever primate is way out of their reach.

YouTube video

Boy, do these gibbons know how to make an entrance! As the sun rises, bonded pairs of Southern Yellow-cheeked Gibbons serenade each other with beautiful songs, staking their claim on their territory. Adorably, these devoted duos share the responsibilities of raising their offspring together.


#17. Western Hoolock Gibbon

  • Hoolock hoolock

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults are 60-90 cm (24-35 in). They don’t have tails.
  • Both sexes have bare black faces. They also sport fancy white “eyebrows.”
  • Males have thick black coats, while females have creamy tan fur with white fur framing their faces.

Western Hoolock Gibbons love to hang out in families of six, swinging through evergreen and broadleaf forests. Up bright and early, they start their day by descending from the treetops in search of breakfast. You can find them chowing down on ripe figs, persimmons, leaves, and even a few silkworms and spiders to spice up their diets. 

But the fun doesn’t stop there! After their morning meal, Western Hoolock Gibbons go on a 20-minute singing session. Their tunes might be a call for a mate or a territorial warning to other groups. Either way, these apes sure know how to make some noise.

With hooked fingers, Western Hoolock Gibbons can hang on branches without getting tired. Then, they easily swing from tree to tree, reaching speeds of up to 20 km/h (12.4 mph)! And when they need to cross a tricky branch, they stretch out their arms to balance themselves like seasoned acrobats.


#18. Black Crested Gibbon

  • Nomascus concolor

Also known as the Western Black Crested Gibbon.

Image Credit (right): Raul654, via Wikimedia Commons

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults are 43-54 cm (17-21 in) long.
  • Both sexes have black faces devoid of fur.
  • Males have deep black coats and white cheeks.
  • Females have cream-white coats and a dark patch of hair on the crown of their heads.

Black Crested Gibbons are some of the coolest primates in Asia!

Unfortunately, they’re facing serious threats. Due to poaching and habitat loss over the past few decades, their population has dropped by over 80%. The remaining few thousand gibbons live in family units of six to eight, composed of an adult pair and their offspring.

Foraging for food in the treetops, Black Crested Gibbons have a taste for sugary fruits, leaves, insects, and bird eggs. Incredibly, these apes have mastered the art of swinging across branches. They can fly through the canopy by swinging from branch to branch, reaching up to 56 km/h (35 mph)! That’s over four times faster than the average human runner.

In the morning, you might be lucky enough to hear Black Crested Gibbon couples perform duets, usually led by the female. Thanks to their special throat sacs, their voices can carry across long distances. Singing together helps strengthen the bond between the gibbon couple and also warns any potential intruders to stay out of their territory.


#19. Black-shanked Douc Langur

  • Pygathrix nigripes

Also known as the Black-shanked Douc.

Image credit (left): Broobas, (right): Khoitran1957, via Wikimedia Commons

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults are 55-63 cm (22-25 in) long, with 66-84 cm (26-33 in) tails.
  • The bare skin around their eyes is tinted yellow.
  • Black hair covers their foreheads and shoulders, and they have gray coats of fur that grow paler towards the undersides.

Black-shanked Douc Langurs are one of the most delightful monkeys in Asia.

They are highly social creatures who love to bond with their peers through grooming and play. As a result, some troops include 30 to 50 members, while others settle for a small team of three.

Black-shanked Douc Langurs are masters of the canopy. They can leap from tree to tree with a skilled precision that would make even the most seasoned acrobat jealous. They use their long arms and prehensile tails for balance, careful not to fall from fatal heights.

As for their diet, Black-shanked Douc Langurs have quite the palate. They feed on the young leaves of over 150 trees and plants! Luckily, they have special bacteria in their guts to help break down all that cellulose. During the wet season, they also enjoy consuming lots of fruits, but they’re smart enough to avoid overripe ones that might give them belly aches.


#20. Black Snub-nosed Monkey

  • Rhinopithecus bieti

Also known as the Yunnan Snub-nosed Monkey.

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults are 51-83 cm (20-33 in) long, with tails that are 52-75 (20-30 in) long.
  • Their noses are just a pair of slits rather than longer appendages.
  • They have thick pink lips, and their wooly coats are dark gray, though their faces and undersides are white.

Meet the resilient Black Snub-nosed Monkey!

These unique creatures brave the freezing temperatures of their secluded forest homes. Here, they live in small families of three to five as part of a much larger community with up to 300 members. To prevent any conflicts between adult males, these families keep a respectful distance from each other.

These strange-looking monkeys have equally strange tastes. They eat lichens, which are complex organisms made up of fungi and algae. Lichens are toxic and difficult to digest, but don’t worry! Black Snub-nosed Monkeys have specialized stomachs for that. When spring arrives, they indulge in a wider variety of foods such as fruits, grasses, mushrooms, berries, and beetles.

Black Snub-nosed Monkeys start their day by heading to their favorite feeding grounds, followed by a midday nap. Afterward, they head out again in the afternoon to forage for more delicious treats. Once the night falls, they return to their sleeping trees and huddle together to share body heat, keeping them toasty on even the coldest nights.


#21. Bornean Orangutan

  • Pongo pygmaeus

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults are 100-170 cm (39-67 in) long. Males are much larger than females.
  • Their arms are way longer than their legs, and their shaggy coats are reddish brown.
  • Look for large cheek pads with patchy hair to identify male orangutans!

Get ready to be wowed by the largest tree-dwelling mammal in the world—the Bornean Orangutan! This massive primate has an appetite that matches its size. With over 400 types of food to choose from, 60% of its diet is made up of fruits, with leaves, honey, insects, and bird eggs rounding out its meals. And get this; sometimes, they even eat soil for extra nutrients and minerals!

Living secluded lives in the rainforests of Asia, Bornean Orangutans are mostly non-territorial. In fact, neighboring females often share resources. A mother orangutan forms close bonds with her children, with sons visiting her even after they leave home and daughters staying with her longer to learn parenting skills. 

Among non-human primates, Bornean Orangutans are perhaps the most intelligent! For example, they fashion umbrellas out of leaves to fend off heavy rain. And, when hunger strikes, they use sticks to probe termite holes for a quick snack. These crafty apes also apply chewed-up leaves on bruises and joint pain. Truly, their intelligence and resourcefulness are second to none!


#22. Philippine Slow Loris

  • Nycticebus menagensis

Identifying Characteristics:

  • These primates are only 27 cm long (11 in).
  • They have small ears and large eyes.
  • Their furry coats range from dull gold to reddish brown.

Check your garden! This tiny primate in Asia occasionally wanders into suburban yards. As a nocturnal animal, the Philippine Slow Loris boasts special eyes that can detect even the faintest light in the dark. It’s a strict tree-dweller, rarely venturing down to the ground.

Philippine Slow Lorises rely on tree sap to stay healthy. In fact, captive specimens become malnourished without access to this sweet, sticky substance. Interestingly, there are reports from Philippine locals that these tiny furballs enjoy the tangy taste of citruses like calamansi.

To stay hidden from predators, Philippine Slow Lorises move incredibly slowly. But when that’s not enough, these primates have another trick up their sleeves. By mixing saliva with the secretions from their armpits, they can inflict a venomous bite on any potential threats. So, if you spot one in the wild, it’s best to let it go about its slow and steady ways!


#23. Cao-vit Crested Gibbon

  • Nomascus nasutus

Also known as the Cao-vit Black Crested Gibbon or Eastern Black Crested Gibbon.

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults are 40-60 cm (16-24 in) long. As apes, they have no tails.
  • Both sexes have hairless black faces.
  • Males have black coats and pale cheeks.
  • Females have cream-colored coats and a tuft of dark hair on their crowns.

Get ready for an adventure in the dense forests of Asia, where you might encounter the elusive Cao-vit Crested Gibbons! Amazingly, they were considered extinct until 2002, when they were rediscovered in Vietnam (and later, China). Unfortunately, they’re a critically-endangered species with only 135 individuals as of 2022. 

A Cao-vit Crested Gibbon’s family is made up of six members, including an adult pair that usually mates for life. At dawn, the family descends from the trees to defend their territory by singing beautiful bird-like songs. It’s a true morning symphony!

With long arms and flexible feet, these gibbons are graceful acrobats. Blink, and you’ll miss them swinging across branches at a blazing speed of 55 km/h (34 mph)! They scan the tangle of trees for their favorite fruits but sometimes chow down on flowers, leaves, and insects.


#24. Gee’s Golden Lutung

  • Trachypithecus geei

Also known as the Golden Langur or Golden Leaf Monkey.

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults are 50-75 cm (20-30 in) long with 70-100 cm (28-39 in) tails. Males are much larger and have longer tails.
  • They have long, frayed hairs framing their black faces.
  • As their name implies, they have vibrant golden fur coats.

Look up if you want to catch a glimpse of this monkey in Asia!

The agile Gee’s Golden Lutungs leap through treetops, using their tails for added balance. They gather in groups of up to 15 members in broadleaf, evergreen, and deciduous forests.

These lutungs are quite shy and quick to flee when sensing strangers. They’re also pacifists, preferring intimidation tactics over violence when faced with threats. Occasionally, they even mingle with neighboring groups. The dominant male in a group stands guard, ready to alert the troop of any incoming predators.

Mostly eating leaves, Golden Lutungs also get excited about seasonal fruits. In fact, fruits are one of the few things they are willing to fight over! Though their diet among the treetops keeps them hydrated, they are forced to find a source of freshwater on the ground in drier seasons.


#25. Northern Plains Grey Langur

  • Semnopithecus entellus

Also known as the Sacred Langur, Bengal Sacred Langur, and Hanuman Langur.

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults are 45-78 cm (18-31 in) long with 80-112 cm (31-44 in) long tails.
  • Swathes of light fur surround their black faces.
  • They have silvery coats of hair that grow darker towards the back.

These monkeys in Asia live in deciduous forests and shrublands, even hanging out in places where humans live. Northern Plains Grey Langurs travel in packs of 11 to 64, but large groups sometimes exceed a hundred. Females are affectionate with their troop members, while males are busier, fighting over mating privileges.

Don’t touch piles of bread and biscuits you might stumble upon! Locals associate Northern Plains Grey Langurs with the Hindu god Hanuman and leave food for them as offerings. With this kind of food security, they can breed all year round. Most times, however, these monkeys just eat leaves.

Amusingly, Northern Plains Grey Langurs look like they’re always in a hurry. They prefer running over walking, even while crossing high branches. As expert climbers, these monkeys can scale tall trees and structures without breaking a sweat. You might even spot one sleeping at the top of a telephone pole!


#26. Pileated Gibbon

  • Hylobates pileatus

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults are 45-64 cm (18-25 in) long.
  • Both sexes have thick white fur above their eyes.
  • Males have black coats of fur.
  • Females have cream or light gray coats, though their chests and bellies are black.

You’ll need luck finding Pileated Gibbons because they’re hidden deep in evergreen and montane forests in Asia. When it comes to family, these gibbons stick with their partners and their children for life. 

Pileated Gibbons are the ninjas of the primate world! These amazing creatures travel through the treetops at a blinding speed of 56 km/h (35 mph). In a single swing, they can launch themselves over 9 meters (30 feet) as if they’re flying. Plus, their wrists are protected by ball joints which help conserve energy during motion. While walking on land, they raise their arms over their heads for balance.

After a long day of swinging, Pileated Gibbons retire to their favorite sleeping trees. Amusingly, they fall asleep while sitting upright. The next morning, the gibbon family belts out rhythmic calls to start their day. These songs serve as a warning for neighboring troops to stay away.


#27. Proboscis Monkey

  • Nasalis larvatus

Also known as the Long-nosed Monkey.

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults are 53-76 cm (21-30 in) long, with tails about the same length as their bodies.
  • Males are unmistakable! They have large droopy noses measuring 10-18 cm (4-7 in). Females noses are more abruptly angular.
  • They have enlarged bellies, and their coats are a blend of orange, brown, and cream-white.

Proboscis Monkeys are truly unique and fascinating creatures in Asia.

They’re unsurprisingly the best swimmers among primates. In fact, a normal day for them involves standing on tree branches and belly-flopping into the water below. How fun! Also, they have webbed toes to help them walk through muddy fields.

These monkeys have mastered the art of balancing their diets. They’re big fans of ripe fruits, but they’re careful not to overindulge. Otherwise, they run the risk of dying from bloat. Instead, they stick to a primary diet of leaves which their stomachs are well-suited to. 

Up to 26 individuals gather to form a group. At the head of the pack is the alpha male, who serves as the ultimate protector. He alerts his troop with loud honks if he senses predators or rival males nearby. Here’s a fun fact: the size of a Proboscis Monkey’s nose is directly related to the loudness of its calls. So, the bigger the nose, the louder the honk!


#28. Pygmy Slow Loris

  • Xanthonycticebus pygmaeus

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults are 20-23 cm (8-9 in) long with tails that are only 2 cm (1 in) from base to tip.
  • They have round ears, huge brown eyes, and short muzzles.
  • Dark fur surrounds their eyes; their coats are brown and noticeably paler on the undersides.

These unique primates live in tropical and evergreen forests in Aisa. Pygmy Slow Lorises may be tiny and slow, but don’t be fooled. These fascinating furballs have developed many remarkable traits to survive in their natural habitat. For example, their eyes—glowing like orbs in the dark—allow them to hunt and see through the night. 

Moving slowly, Pygmy Slow Lorises are masters at hiding from predators. In fact, they can stay completely still for hours—thanks to a clever system of blood vessels that prevents their limbs from going numb. Plus, their colors blend well against tree bark, making them hard to spot!

These little hunters are always on the lookout for their next meal. Pygmy Slow Lorises munch on insects such as ants and termites, but their favorite food is tree gum or sap. To get to their sticky treats, they bite holes into trees using their sharp teeth. Then, they slurp up the sap with their long tongues.


#29. Red-shanked Douc Langur

  • Pygathrix nemaeus

Also known as the Red-shanked Douc.

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults are 55-82 cm (22-32 in) long, with 56-74 cm (22-29 in) tails.
  • They have black crowns, orange faces, and white beards.
  • They boast dark gray coats with white forearms and maroon legs. A red line of fur spans their shoulders and collars.

Hold tight as we swing into the wild, wacky world of Red-shanked Douc Langurs! They love fruits but are not the neatest eaters, so watch out for pits and skins falling on your head! After eating fruit for breakfast, they spend the rest of their day foraging for leaves and buds, which can lead to some funny bouts of gas buildup and burping.

These monkeys in Asia inhabit secluded evergreen forests.

Unfortunately, their populations are rapidly declining due to habitat destruction. As of 2020, they face a high risk of extinction.

In a typical group of Red-shanked Douc Langurs, you’ll find around 15 members. As playful creatures, both juveniles and adults love to chase each other around the thick canopy. They’re quite the agile acrobats, so you’ll have to keep your eyes peeled to catch a glimpse of them before they disappear into the greenery. 


#30. Robinson’s Banded Langur

  • Presbytis robinsoni
Image credit (left): Rushenb, (right): Wich’yanan L, via Wikimedia Commons

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults are 43-61 cm (17-24 in) long with 61-84 cm (24-33 in) long tails.
  • You’ll find pale skin below their eyes and on their lips and a triangular tuft of hair on the top of their heads.
  • Adults have black coats that grow lighter on the undersides.

Rarely descending from the treetops, Robinson’s Banded Langurs are masters of the canopy. These monkeys in Asia form groups of up to 20 members with a unique family dynamic. Females outnumber males 5 to 1, and adults take turns caring for the young. These cute little langurs are born with vibrant reddish fur, making them easier to watch.

Robinson’s Banded Langurs can be picky eaters! If they don’t like what’s on the menu in their area, they’ll move on to a new spot. Fruits are their favorite, but they’ll also chow down on seeds and leaves. With the help of bacteria in their stomachs, they can digest even the toughest plants.

Despite its nervous and elusive nature, this monkey might give you a scare instead. Picture this: you’re strolling through the jungle when suddenly you hear what sounds like a machine gun. But, don’t worry, it’s just one of the territorial calls or predator alarms of this species!

YouTube video

#31. Silvered Leaf Monkey 

  • Trachypithecus cristatus

Also known as the Silvery Lutung or Silvery Langur.

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults are 46-58 cm (18-23 in) long, with tails that are 67-75 cm (26-30 in) in length.
  • They sport a dark crest of hair on their heads and tufts of hair on the sides of their black faces.
  • They have dark gray body hair that turns silver at the tips.

You’ll need a sharp eye to find Silvered Leaf Monkeys in Asia.

If you try to approach, these shy creatures will quickly flee, so bring a pair of binoculars to watch them from afar! They often frequent forests, plantations, and mangrove swamps.

 

Did you know that Silvered Leaf Monkeys have a unique digestive system? If you peek into their mouths, you’ll find ridged teeth designed to cut and chew leaves. After swallowing, the food passes through a three-chambered stomach. If they have difficulty digesting their fibrous food, they cleverly eat lumps of clay as a cure. 

A dominant male Silvered Leaf Monkey leads a group of up to 40 females and their offspring. While they’re typically peaceful, these monkeys will sometimes engage in territorial disputes with other groups. Thankfully,  adult males will try to chase each other away before they resort to biting and slapping. At night, the whole group takes refuge in a single tree.


#32. Skywalker Hoolock Gibbon

  • Hoolock tianxing

Also known as the Gaoligong Hoolock Gibbon.

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults grow to about 81 cm (32 in).
  • They have white mask-like markings on their black faces, and some specimens have pale crests of hair.
  • Both sexes have dense coats. However, males are shades of brown, while females are yellowish or dark blonde.

With only 150 individuals left in their native habitat, spotting a Skywalker Hoolock Gibbon is a truly unique experience. Unfortunately, illegal poaching and habitat destruction threaten to wipe this species out completely. These rare primates are endemic to a stretch of montane and evergreen forests between China and Myanmar. Their population is scattered and isolated throughout the region.

Skywalker Hoolock Gibbons have thick fur to help them endure freezing mountain climates. During winter, they huddle close together to share body heat. You might even see one basking in the sun if you look at the highest branches! They scour the treetops for fruits, especially figs, but they also like to prey on insects and spiders.

Skywalker Hoolock Gibbons wake up in the morning with high-pitched songs to share. They call out in rhythmic patterns to announce their territories. Sometimes, they also sing to attract a partner. If they hit it off, the new couple builds a family, with usually one to two little ones in tow.


#33. Sunda Slow Loris

  • Nycticebus coucang

Also known as the Greater Slow Loris.

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults are 27-38 cm (11-15 in).
  • Dark rings frame their enormous eyes. They also have small, round ears and short muzzles.
  • You’ll notice a dark strip of fur running from their foreheads and across their backs.
  • They have brown coats with contrasting pale underparts.

Native to tropical rainforests in Asia, Sunda Slow Lorises are shy yet charming creatures. These little furballs know how to stay hidden from predators as they crawl slowly across branches to forage for food at night. Once the sun comes up, they curl into a ball and fall asleep.

Don’t be fooled by their cute appearance—these critters pack a nasty bite! Sunda Slow Lorises secrete poisonous oil from their elbows and rub it on their fur to make themselves less appetizing to predators. It’s best to let them go about eating tree sap, juicy fruits, nectar, and bugs. 

Although they tend to live alone, Sunda Slow Lorises are friendly with their neighbors. Their anuses leave behind certain scents to mark where they’ve been. Though they don’t meet often, they’re always aware of each other’s whereabouts!


#34. White-thighed Surili

  • Presbytis siamensis

Also known as the Pale-thighed Langur.

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults are 41-69 cm (16-27 in) in length. They also have 58-85 cm (23-33 in) tails.
  • Note the dark fur on their foreheads and their fluffy white cheeks.
  • White fur covers their outer thighs.
  • They have grayish-brown fur on their backs and pale fur on their underparts.

White-thighed Surilis are some of the most bashful monkeys in Asia!

They will scurry away as soon as they spot you. They live in small family units: a few juveniles, two to four females who take turns caring for infants and a male patriarch who keeps watch for predators. He’ll let out a loud call to warn the others if danger is near.

Despite their skittish nature, White-thighed Surilis are lovable. This playful langur loves to climb, leap and swing through the rainforests and swamps of Asia. When it gets tired, you might catch one dozing off on a sturdy branch, limbs and tail hanging from the sides.

With specialized digestive systems, White-thighed Surilis can chow down on fibrous leaves that other monkeys can’t digest. The bacteria in their guts can neutralize toxins that may sneak into their diets. They also love snacking on fruits and seeds.


For more information about animals in Asia, check out these guides:


Which of these monkeys in Asia is your favorite?

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