What kinds of monkeys live in India?
If you visit India, 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!
10 monkey species that live in India:
#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 India 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 India 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 India 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 India, 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 India 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 India 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 India 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. 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 India 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.
#7. Phayre’s Leaf Monkey
- Trachypithecus phayre
Also known as the Phayre’s Langur.
- 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 India 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.
#8. 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.
#9. 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 India!
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.
#10. 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 India 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 India, check out these guides:
Which of these monkeys in India is your favorite?
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