in

Can a Monkey Swim

Do monkeys swim? Well, yes, they do. But not because they were born with fins. They learn how to swim as babies. And just like humans, they also learn from watching others.

Monkeys aren’t meant to swim. They’re designed for climbing trees and swinging from branches. But they have become masters of swimming to enable them to find food or escape danger.

List of Monkeys that can swim

  • Proboscis Monkeys
  • Macaque Monkey
  • Red howler Monkey
  • Mantled howler Monkey
  • Squirrel Monkeys
  • Spider Monkeys

Why can’t all monkeys swim?

Like humans, some monkeys fear sinking or drowning in the water. Some are simply not exposed to water and don’t know how to swim.

Some cannot swim because many are heavy, some can swim but don’t want to, and others haven’t even encountered water because they are in areas that don’t need to cross rivers or lakes to find food.

Can newborn monkeys swim?

Macaque Monkeys learn to swim at a young age. During this early stage, the mother carefully monitors them to help encourage and teach them the skills needed.

This can help them cool down on a warm day. 

Can monkeys swim and stay underwater?

The proboscis monkey is one of the most intelligent primates in the world. They are found throughout South America and parts of Africa. This particular type of monkey has a long nose shaped like a proboscis. One of the interesting things about this animal is that it can stay underwater for quite some time without drowning.

Scientists believe this ability might be because the proboscis monkey uses its hands and feet to propel itself through the water. Even though the monkey can move around underwater, it must breathe regularly.

Facts for Kids
Facts for Kids

The proboscis monkey is found in lowland habitats that may experience tides and is capable of swimming up to 20 m (66 ft) underwater. It is largely arboreal and moves quadrupedally and by leaps.

How long can a monkey hold its breath?

Like humans, the time a monkey can hold its breath can vary greatly.  According to a study from the Indianapolis Zoo, the Macaque Monkey can hold its breath for 30 seconds. This, of course, is going to vary greatly in the wild,

Types of Monkeys that can swim

Proboscis Monkeys

The proboscis monkey, or long-nosed monkey, is an arboreal Old World monkey found mostly in mangrove forests and on the coastal areas of Borneo.

The proboscis monkey is a large species of monkey that can reach a maximum weight of 30 kg (66 lb). It has a long coat that is orange, reddish brown, yellowish brown, or brick-red, and a face that darkens to grey at 2.5 months.

It can swim underwater up to 20 meters (66 feet) in lowland habitats that experience tides. It’s mostly arboreal, moves quadrupedally, and leaps.


Macaque Monkey

Macaques are gregarious Old World monkeys that inhabit ranges throughout Asia, North Africa, and Gibraltar. They are mostly frugivorous and eat various fruits, seeds, leaves, flowers, and tree bark.

They are intelligent primates that can range in size from 41 to 70 cm (16 to 28 inches) and weigh 5.5 to 18 kg (12.13 to 39.7 lb). They live in troops that vary in size, where males dominate, but the rank order of dominance frequently shifts.

Macaques can swim and spend most of their time on the ground or in trees.


Red howler Monkey

In Venezuela, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, and Brazil, the Colombian red howler or Venezuelan red howler is a New World monkey species found in the western Amazon Basin.

The red howler monkey has a large jawbone and an inflated bulla, which makes it an exception among other New World monkeys.

Mantled howler Monkey

The mantled howler is a species of howler monkey, a type of New World monkey, from Central and South America. It is one of the largest Central American monkeys, and males can weigh up to 9.8 kg (22 lb).

The mantled howler is the most folivorous species of Central American monkey, and it prefers young leaves to mature leaves. It uses its salivary glands to break down the leaf tannins, and it relies on a low-energy food source.

Squirrel Monkeys

Squirrel monkeys are found in the tropical forests of Central and South America in the canopy layer. They have determined breeding seasons and use thermoregulation techniques such as behavioral changes and urine washing to maintain proper osmoregulation.

A squirrel monkey has short, close fur and a black and white face, which gives it the name “death’s head monkey.”

Spider Monkeys

Spider monkeys are one of the largest New World monkeys and live in the upper layers of the rainforest. They are social animals, live in bands of up to 35 individuals, and can produce a wide range of sounds.

They form loose groups of 15 to 25 individuals and break up into subgroups during the day. Females tend to disperse at puberty, and males tend to stick together for their whole lives.

Some Monkeys are Natural Swimmers

Proboscis monkeys likely took to the water because living in a swamp is necessary.

It’s a practical function for these primates to swim: to get food. Foraging for the young, tender leaves that make up the bulk of their diet requires a lot of travel-and swimming makes it easier.

It’s not known how long these monkeys can hold their breath underwater, but they can swim underwater with partially webbed fingers and toes.