What kinds of monkeys live in China?
If you visit China, 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!
13 monkey species that live in China:
#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 China 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 China 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 China 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 China, males actively help care for the little ones in their troops, even those they don’t share blood with.
#3. Northern Pig-tailed Macaque
- Macaca leonina
- 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 China live in tree and bamboo forests.
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.
#4. Bengal Slow Loris
- Nycticebus bengalensis
Also known as the Northern Slow Loris.
- 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 China 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.
#5. 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 China 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.
#6. Stump-tailed Macaque
- Macaca arctoides
Also known as the Bear Macaque.
- 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 China 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.
#7. 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 China 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.
#8. Indochinese Gray Langur
- Trachypithecus crepusculus
- 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 China. 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.
#9. Western Hoolock Gibbon
- Hoolock hoolock
- 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.
#10. Black Crested Gibbon
- Nomascus concolor
Also known as the Western Black Crested Gibbon.
- 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 China!
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.
#11. Black Snub-nosed Monkey
- Rhinopithecus bieti
Also known as the Yunnan Snub-nosed Monkey.
- 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.
#12. Cao-vit Crested Gibbon
- Nomascus nasutus
Also known as the Cao-vit Black Crested Gibbon or Eastern Black Crested Gibbon.
- 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 China, 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.
#13. Skywalker Hoolock Gibbon
- Hoolock tianxing
Also known as the Gaoligong Hoolock Gibbon.
- 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.
For more information about animals in China, check out these guides:
Which of these monkeys in China is your favorite?
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