What kinds of monkeys live in Bhutan?
If you visit Bhutan, 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!
6 monkey species that live in Bhutan:
#1. Rhesus Macaque
- Macaca mulatta
Also known as the Rhesus Monkey.
- 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 Bhutan 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 in Bhutan 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!
#2. Assam Macaque
- Macaca assamensis
Also known as the Assamese Macaque.
- 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 Bhutan 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 in Bhutan, males actively help care for the little ones in their troops, even those they don’t share blood with.
#3. Capped Lutung
- Trachypithecus pileatus
Also known as the Capped Langur, Capped Leaf Monkey.
- 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 in Bhutan live in lush montane and tropical forests.
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.
#4. Himalayan Gray Langur
- Semnopithecus schistaceus
Also known as the Nepal Gray Langur or Nepal Sacred Langur.
- 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 Bhutan 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.
#5. Gee’s Golden Lutung
- Trachypithecus geei
Also known as the Golden Langur or Golden Leaf Monkey.
- 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 Bhutan!
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.
#6. Northern Plains Grey Langur
- Semnopithecus entellus
Also known as the Sacred Langur, Bengal Sacred Langur, and Hanuman Langur.
- 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 Bhutan 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!
For more information about animals in Bhutan, check out these guides:
Which of these monkeys in Bhutan is your favorite?
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