Monkey Facts

Monkeys are primates that live in tropical jungles. There are 2 main subgroups: New World and Old World. The Americas are home to New World monkeys, while Asia and Africa are home to Old World monkeys.

There are over 264 different species of monkeys around the world. They are intelligent, skilled tool users to help them crack open nuts.

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Monkey Facts for Kids

  • Monkeys are primates.
  • They can live for between 10 and 50 years.
  • Monkeys have tails, apes don’t.
  • Like humans, monkeys have unique fingerprints. 
  • Albert II was the first monkey in space in 1949.
  • There are no monkeys in Antarctica.
  • The largest monkey is the male Mandrill which is about 3.3 ft. (1 meter) long.
  • The smallest monkey is the Pygmy Marmoset which measures 4-4 ½ inches (117-159 mm) in length.
  • The female spider monkey has the longest tail.
  • The male howler monkey is very loud in fact is one of the loudest animals in the world.
  • Many face habitat loss from, degradation, residential, commercial, and agricultural development.

Types of Monkeys

Capuchin Monkey

Named after Capuchin monks because of the distinctive pattern on their heads. These small monkeys populate parts of Central and South America. They are diurnal and spend most of the day hunting for food.

They are skillful foragers and eat a varied diet. Their diet includes nuts, plants, fruit, sugarcane, bulbs, and even shellfish.

They live in groups of between 10 and 35 with a strict hierarchy organized under one male leader. This hierarchy determines mating behavior, friendships, and social bonds.

Capuchins are an intelligent monkey species. People keep them as pets and even service animals. They gained fame in captivity as “organ grinder monkeys”.

Howler Monkey

Howler monkeys are some of the largest monkey species found in the New World.

They have a distinctive howling call, and it’s the loudest performed by land animals. It’s a physical adaptation they produce a deep sound because of an enlarged hyoid bone. You can hear them up to three miles away.

We know howler monkeys for their long tails, which is five times as long as their body.

These tails are prehensile and can support their weight as they move through the trees. Howler monkeys live in moderate-sized groups of about 15 members. Unlike many other primates, howler monkeys are slow-moving. They are folivores, living off of leaves, fruits, seeds, nuts, ally, eggs.

Patas Monkey

Patas monkeys are what we call ground-dwelling monkeys found throughout West Africa. Despite their enormous size, patas monkeys have a diet that is the same as smaller primates. They eat a diet of tubers, insects, seeds, and gum.

They don’t live in multi-sex groups. Instead, they split into groups divided by sex.

Usually, a single male lives among the females. The exception is during mating season, when the groups mingle and then separate again.

Each of these groups has a complex social structure and hierarchy.

They live in areas with sparse vegetation. So rarely climb trees, even to escape predators.

Instead, they rely on alarm calls, fleeing, and even defensive fighting.

Pygmy Marmoset

The pygmy marmoset is a tiny monkey found throughout the Amazon Basin. This species is the smallest monkey on the planet, with adults weighing around 3.5 oz. In captivity, they are sometimes referred to as finger monkeys or fingerlings.

They live in small groups of about six, usually composed of immediate family members. Pygmy marmosets are gummivores, meaning that they live mostly off of tree sap, with some supplementation of insects.

Their unique teeth let them gouge into the trunks of trees to tap into sap flow. They also may eat nectar and fruit. Pygmy marmosets are known for their unique and complex forms of vocalization, which use an elaborate system of vibration and pitch to communicate.

Spider Monkey

Spider monkeys are found throughout tropical regions in Central and South America. Their long limbs and prehensile tails make them excellent climbers and some of the largest monkeys in the New World.

Spider monkeys live in moderately-sized groups that break into subgroups during daylight hours to reduce the risk of attracting predators and inciting squabbles over food. These social groups have complex organizations and may be led by one dominant female.

Spider monkeys live primarily on fruit and nuts, though they may eat plants, insects, and honey. Their large brains help them recall where food is abundant, and they may travel in smaller groups to forage. 

Squirrel Monkey

Squirrel monkeys are native to South and Central America, with significant outspread in the Amazon. These small monkeys are known throughout the world for their slim figures and distinctive white “mask” on their facial fur.

They live in large groups of up to 500, staying largely to the trees to avoid predators. They use their long, distinctive tails as balancing mechanisms while moving through the trees. Since they are small, squirrel monkeys are vulnerable to falcons, snakes, and other hunters.

They are omnivorous, with the majority of their diet being fruit and insects. However, they also eat various plant matter, flowers, eggs, and other materials. 

Can Monkeys Swim?

Probosci’s monkeys have swimming abilities. Scientists have observed them in the wild swimming. In the swamps of Indonesian Borneo’s Bakut Island, they take to the water swimming. It serves a practical purpose to find food.

How Long Do Monkeys Sleep?

Monkeys sleep on average 9.5 hours. Nocturnal night monkeys from South Africa sleep for 17 hours a day.

Monkeys sleep while sitting on trees. They balance on branches, resting on their bottoms, and often upright.

They sleep above the canopy for security reasons to keep away from predators.

Are Monkeys Omnivores

Monkeys are omnivores; they eat both meat and plants. The diet of the monkeys varies depending on the species. East African verve monkeys feed on bulbs, bark, roots, eggs, and rodents.

Red colobus and Langur monkeys eat leaves. The belly of colobus monkeys and langurs contains a bacterium. This helps in the fermentation and digestion of leaves.

Owl monkeys feed on leaves, fruits, and insects. Capuchin monkeys eat fruits, buds, leaves, small lizards, bird eggs, and small birds.

Trained Capuchin can catch crabs, frogs, and shellfish. They also eat small mammals and reptiles. They use their hands and feet to hold on to the branches when feeding on various parts of the tree.

While others have ridged and very flexible tails to hold on to branches when eating.

Baboons can eat meat when they catch it, such as young antelopes, rabbits, and birds. Geladas monkeys usually feed on grass.

Old-world monkeys fill their cheek pouches with food. They swallow it later when they find a safe place to rest.

Are Monkeys Smart?

Monkeys are intelligent and understand abstract qualities.

Research from Georgia State University showed versatility in problem solving. They conducted a test to discover how flexible monkeys were.

Monkeys can remember specific routes in the forest. When moving from one region of the forest to another.

Monkeys recall pathways in the wild when moving from one region of the forest to another.

Monkeys use hands and objects like sticks to crack nuts.

Owl monkeys have eyes that can see in the dark, and they can communicate with each other using scents and calls.

Where are Monkeys’ Habitat?

Monkeys live in forests, grasslands, high plains, and mountain places. A large category of monkeys spend their time in trees, while others live on the ground.

Monkeys split into two groups, Old and New World monkeys.

Old World monkeys live in Africa and Asia. They include baboons, macaques, mangabeys, guenons, and colobus monkeys.

New World monkeys live in Central America, South America, and Mexico.

New World monkeys include

Howler monkeys
Spider monkeys
Woolly monkeys
Capuchin monkeys
Squirrel monkeys

Monkeys have unique features which attract them to different regions.

A large category of monkeys live in the tropical rainforest or the savannas of Africa.

Geladas and golden monkeys live in mountainous places where there is snow, such as Japan.

Other monkeys live in rocky and wooded area. They spend their time on the ground, although they can climb trees.

These include macaques and baboons.

Monkeys are divided into two subgroups:

Old World monkeys that can be found and live in Asia and Africa

New World Monkeys are found in South America.

Apes are not considered to be monkeys, although monkeys and apes are considered to share the simian primate group.

Old World Monkeys

Most Old World monkeys have curved, small nostrils that are set quite close together however, New World monkeys have round nostrils that are far apart and their noses are flat.

There are 96 Old World Monkey species and 81 New World monkey species, although there are more New World species that are being discovered.

  • Monkeys can be identified easily as they all have tails.
  • Most monkeys run across branches, although there are some species that do swing in trees arm-to-arm.
  • Monkeys communicate through a variety of sound vocalizations, body movements, and facial expressions.

In the world of monkeys, pulling the lip or grinning is a sign of aggression.

Other signs of aggression can include head bobbing, yawning, and jerking the shoulders and head forward.

Monkeys are very social

Monkeys are very social, living in groups called a ‘troop’ and they express affection and bonding through the grooming process.

The habitats of monkeys can include grasslands, high plains, trees, and forests.

However, they are quickly losing the places where they can live as it is disappearing due to human invasion.

Monkeys that live in trees are called arboreal and they spend most of their lives in the trees.

Species such as baboons primarily live on the ground.

Monkeys are omnivores and eat such things like nuts, seeds, leaves, flowers, fruit, insects and honey.

The alpha or leader of the group is mostly a male monkey and they generally fight for this right. As a leader, this gives them the right to mate with all the females within the group.