There are many rainforest monkeys to be found in the world’s tropics. Primates generally inhabit tropical jungles and are known to form complex social units; only orangutans, a few lemurs, and galagos live solitary lives. Most jungle monkeys live in troops.
Primates have highly dextrous hands and feet that make them well adapted to a life in the trees. Another adaptation of primates is a highly developed cerebral hemisphere, which allows a keen eyesight for jumping between trees. Jungle Monkeys have a flattened facial profile characteristic of most monkeys and apes.
Rainforest monkeys are split into two groups, the Old World monkeys and the New World monkeys. These groups are distinguished most easily by nose shape.
Jungle Monkeys of the Amazon Rainforest
In the Amazon Rainforest, you will find some very interesting primate species like woolly monkeys (Lagothrix). These are a large monkey that lives in mixed sex groups and has a thick, furry appearance. Woolly monkeys require a large area to live, which makes them particularly susceptible to the pressures of deforestation.
You may also find black spider monkeys that live in large troops in western Amazon Rainforest. You can identify this rainforest monkey by its black hair and facial skin.
Often heard and not seen, howler monkeys are an iconic monkey of the Amazon Rainforest. The largest are the attractive red howlers whose calls can carry for 1.25 miles (2km). Howlers spend most of the day resting in the tree tops to conserve energy, and to digest the diverse amount of fruits and leaves they consume.
Night monkeys are a welcomed monkey to encounter in the forest, and on night walks in the Amazon Rainforest you may see their friendly heads poking out of tree holes to identify who and what you are. These are the only nocturnal monkey and they live in male-female pairs.
Other monkeys of the Amazon Rainforest include marmosets and tamarins, the Uakari, named by a now extinct tribe, and the mischievous capuchin monkeys, which were a friend of Friar Hector at the Alto del Aguila mentioned in the article on Amazon Rainforest Attractions.
When on hikes in the Amazon Rainforest, squirrel monkeys will be responsible for throwing small sticks and leaves as you pass near their troop. It brings a smile to your face during a long hike when you feel something small hitting your hat, and look up and see several curious squirrel monkeys following you through the forest. These monkeys sometimes live in very large groups over 100 strong.
The majority of these rainforest monkeys can be observed in their natural habitat on a privately guided tour of the Tamshiyacu Tahuayo Reserve in the Peruvian Amazon Rainforest.
Jungle Monkeys of the Asian Rainforest
The proboscis monkey is perhaps the most recognisable monkey of the asian rainforest. They live in very particular regions in lowland rainforest, mangrove swamps and the coast of Borneo. Generally, they live in a troop of one male and 6 females with their young. They feed on vegetation and have enlarged stomaches full of digesting leaves. Despite this, their display seems rather uncomfortable and can involve jumping from height into bodies of water.
Macaques are a fairly common rainforest monkey to encounter in south east Asia. They are generally good climbers and proficient swimmers. The long-tailed macaque is southeast Asia’s most common monkey and can exploit human habitation well. Their success may be intrinsically tied to their diverse diet.
Jungle Monkeys of the Congo Rainforest
Rainforest monkeys in the Congo include the Mandrill (above), which has an attractive light blue and red facial pattern. The male mandrill is the largest of all monkeys and reaches about 60 cm (23.5 in). They live in groups spending most of their time searcing on the forest floor for small animals, seeds, fruits and nuts.
Mangabeys forage for fruit and seeds and prefer to live close to water. They are less of a tree dweller than their cousins and prefer life on the ground. Their powerful teeth easily crack into most hard nuts.
Rainforest monkeys are a popular wildlife encounter in the world’s tropics. Their popularity may be linked to their often flat human-like faces. The Old World monkeys are more closely related to apes than their New World cousins and there are several anatomical features that distinguishes the two groups.