9 COMMON Monkeys Found in Colombia! (2024)

What kinds of monkeys live in Colombia?

monkeys in colombia

If you find yourself visiting Colombia, it’s only natural that you will 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 and learn some fun and interesting facts. Pictures and range maps are also included!

9 monkey species that live in Colombia:


#1. Ursine Howler Monkey

  • Alouatta arctoidea

Also known as the Ursine Red Howler and Caracas Howler.

kinds of monkeys in colombia
Credit (left image): Edoardo Pietro, (right image): Luis Zabala, via Wikimedia Commons

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults are 45-65 cm (18-26 in) long, and their tails are 55-68 cm (22-27 in).
  • Thick beards surround their hairless faces.
  • They have dark or reddish brown coats, though their tails are lighter at the ends.

Ursine Howler Monkeys in Colombia inhabit open woodlands. Interestingly, these monkeys consume leaves infested with insects to get their protein. They also eat fruits, nuts, flowers, eggs, and even birds when given a chance! As you might have guessed from their common name, their renowned howls can pierce through thick forests.

Bonded mates often reside within a larger group of Ursine Howler Monkeys. Males from rival groups engage in howling competitions to defend their territories and resources. In addition, females have their own contests to prevent other females from joining their groups.

Ursine Howler Monkeys are not usually aggressive, but these primates are short-tempered in captivity. As a result, they are best suited to natural habitats. In the wild, you can see them using their prehensile tails to support their weight as they travel through the high canopies.

 


#2. Black-faced Spider Monkey

  • Ateles chamek

Also known as the Chamek Spider Monkey and Peruvian Spider Monkey.

types of monkeys in colombia

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults are about 70 cm (28 in) in length, with tails that reach 100 cm (39 in).
  • Their bodies, foreheads, and cheeks are covered with thick, black hair.

Black-faced Spider Monkeys in Colombia live among the canopy of lowland forests, though you might also find them in drier hills. Their favorite food is fruit, but they also eat leaves, insects, and small animals such as frogs and baby birds.

Equipped with prehensile tails and vestigial thumbs, Black-faced Spider Monkeys can expertly swing from branch to branch. Rivers can’t stop them, either! They are strong swimmers, crossing waterways to access other parts of the forest. A family consists of up to 30 individuals. Listen for their grunts and howls as they stay in touch with each other.

Sadly, Black-faced Spider Monkeys are endangered due to habitat destruction and infrequent reproduction. This fascinating primate has had its population decline by 50% in the last 45 years.

 


#3. Black-mantled Tamarin

  • Saguinus nigricollis

species of monkeys in colombia

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults only reach 23 cm (9 in) long, with tails up to 36 cm (14 in) in length.
  • They have mostly black hair, which is reddish brown towards the mid-back.
  • Their ears are large and bare. Pale fur covers their muzzles.

A group of Black-mantled Tamarins can contain up to a dozen individuals who warn each other of predators. Some groups might even include tamarins of a different species! At night, you’ll see them roosting together in the tangle of vines in Colombia’s Amazon rainforest.

The mating and reproduction rituals of this species are truly remarkable. In three out of four pregnancies, Black-mantled Tamarins give birth to twins. Only the dominant female of a group can mate, doing so with several males. Similarly to a nurse at a human birth, the father washes the newborn tamarin before giving it back to the mother. Other group members may also help care for the young.

While juvenile Black-mantled Tamarins are usually playful, they soon outgrow this behavior to learn survival skills in the wild. However, specimens in captivity tend to keep their playful nature. Visit a zoo to watch this monkey at play!

 


#4. Humboldt’s Squirrel Monkey

  • Saimiri cassiquiarensis

Also known as the Colombian Squirrel Monkey.

types of monkeys in colombia

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults grow 25-37 cm (10-15 in), and their tails are 36-45 cm (14-18 in) long.
  • They are gray-haired with black-tipped tails. Their arms and backs have a yellow tinge.
  • The crowns of their heads, as well as their muzzles, are dark in contrast.

They may be small, but this species has strength in numbers! Humboldt’s Squirrel Monkeys in Colombia gather in groups of 20-50 high up in the trees. Forming large packs gives them protection against predators and rival monkeys. So if you enter their domain, don’t be surprised to hear a wide range of vocalizations and alarm calls.

Using their long tails for balance, Humboldt’s Squirrel Monkeys leap great distances from one branch to another. Their nails help them cling to tree trunks. Additionally, they can run quickly on all fours as they search for food. Fruits are their favorite, but they also eat leaves, shoots, and insects.

Tropical rainforests can get really hot. Fortunately, Humboldt’s Squirrel Monkeys have a strange but clever way to dodge the heat: urinating on their hands! As their excess body heat evaporates the urine, the process helps them cool down.

 


#5. Long-haired Spider Monkey

  • Ateles hybridus

Also known as the Variegated Spider Monkey or Brown Spider Monkey.

common monkeys in colombia

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults are approximately 50 cm (20 in) long and have 75 cm (30 in) long tails.
  • They have bare, black faces. Look for a patch of white hair on the top of their heads.
  • Their body hair ranges from dark to light brown, though their bellies are white.

This species is one of the most endangered monkeys in Colombia.

Long-haired Spider Monkeys have suffered devastating habitat loss from agricultural expansion. As a result, dwindling populations spend their time traveling in small troops, swinging across the canopy. Their excellent eyesight helps them spot food as well as lurking predators.

While they mostly eat fruits, Long-haired Spider Monkeys feed on leaves, honey, and insects, especially during the dry season. To reduce travel, they sleep on trees close to their feeding grounds. You might be surprised to know that these monkeys sometimes eat soil! The dirt is a source of important minerals that the monkeys need to stay healthy.

Habitat loss isn’t the only reason these primates are endangered. Females of this species only produce offspring every 3-4 years because babies need a lot of care before they can live on their own. A newly-born Long-haired Spider Monkey will cling to its mother’s belly for a few months before relocating to her back. After that, it will stay with her for about 18 months until it learns the skills to survive independently.

 


#6. White-bellied Spider Monkey

  • Ateles belzebuth

Also known as the White-fronted Spider Monkey and Long-haired Spider Monkey.

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults can reach a body length of 34-59 cm (13-23 in). Their tails are 65-90 cm (26-35 in) long.
  • As their name implies, they have white-colored bellies.
  • Black and brown hair covers their bodies. In addition, some specimens have a pale patch of hair on their foreheads.

White-bellied Spider Monkeys in Colombia live in groups of 20-50.

These groups are divided into smaller troops of up to nine for feeding. They occupy wide territories, nesting in trees throughout the rainforest. Feeding mostly on fruits, these primates are effective agents of seed dispersal.

Look at a White-bellied Spider Monkey navigating trees, and you’ll see how it got its name! These agile creatures climb and cling to trees in a spider-like way. But did you know that the tail of this monkey acts as a fifth limb? The bare tip of its tail can grasp branches. It’s also strong enough to support the animal’s entire body weight!

Keep away from their territories! Males on patrol may see you as a threat and attempt to attack. They use their large canine teeth to inflict deep wounds. Ouch!

 


#7. Common Woolly Monkey

  • Lagothrix lagothricha

Also known as the Brown Woolly Monkey or Humboldt’s Woolly Monkey.

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults are 40-60 cm (16-24 in) in length, with thick 55-75 cm (22-30 in) tails.
  • Their faces are black and hairless.
  • Their coats are shades of black, gray, and brown. Their heads and undersides are darker in contrast.

You can find Common Woolly Monkeys in Colombia up in the canopy of the Amazon rainforest. Some travel in pairs, while others gather in groups with as many as 70 members. Impressively, they cover up to 2 km (1.2 mi) per day foraging for food. During flood season, these monkeys enter submerged areas to look for berries.

Common Woolly Monkeys love to eat fruits that are rich in sugar. During periods of scarcity, they settle for leaves, insects, and spiders. New mothers eat protein-rich leaves to boost their milk production. Competition for fruits is high within their communities, so younger monkeys have to rely more on a diet of insects.

Female Common Woolly Monkeys don’t normally interact with other females. They’re incredibly possessive! They will readily harass other females that try to approach their partners. Other than that, they are generally a peaceful species, willing to share food sources with their neighbors.

 


#8. Colombian Red Howler Monkey

  • Alouatta seniculus

Also known as the Venezuelan Red Howler.

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults grow 46-72 cm (18-28 in) long. Their tails can measure 49-75 cm (19-30 in) in length.
  • They have wide jaws and hairless faces.
  • Reddish-brown hair covers their bodies, though their tails are bare towards the tip.

The Colombian Red Howler Monkey is an arboreal primate that lives among the canopies of Colombia’s rainforests. Its prehensile tail can grasp branches, supporting the howler as it moves between trees. This monkey’s main diet is leaves supplemented by fruits and flowers.

At dawn, you might hear a chorus of Colombian Red Howler Monkeys howling and roaring in unison. Their racket can be heard from up to 5 kilometers (3.10 miles) away! These performances help establish territories among groups, thereby preventing unnecessary fights.

Colombian Red Howler Monkeys form groups of ten on average. A male leads and defends several females and their offspring. When a howler gives birth, childless females assist the mother in caring for her baby.

 


#9. Brown Capuchin

  • Sapajus apella

Also known as the Tufted Capuchin, Black-capped Capuchin, or Pin Monkey.

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults are 32-57 cm (13-22 in) long. Their tails are 38-56 cm (15-22 in) long.
  • Look for a wig-like tuft of black hair on their heads.
  • They have brownish-gray body fur, but their limbs, tails, and heads are darker in contrast.

To see Brown Capuchins in action, you’ll have to visit the Amazon River basin in Colombia. These monkeys thrive in both moist and dry forests, forming packs of 8-15 members. A dominant male acts as the leader and protector of the pack. If a pack member finds an abundant food source, it will whistle to let others know its location.

Brown Capuchins are impressively resourceful! After leaving palm nuts to dry for a week, these monkeys will bash them open with large rocks. Additionally, they use sticks to dig ants out of their mounds. Occasionally, they crush and rub these ants on their fur to repel ticks and mosquitoes. They also use big leaves to hold water for drinking.

Brown Capuchins are equipped with prehensile tails, but curiously, they don’t use them much. These tails help control their descent from heights, but they are more comfortable moving with their hands and feet.

 


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

 

 


Which of these monkeys in Colombia is your favorite?

 

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