11 Nosara Howler Monkey Facts
To many visitors hearing the loud, guttural roar for the first time, descriptions of the dawn shriek emanating from the Nosara treetops may range from ‘a little weird’ to ‘downright apocalyptic.’ Fortunately, their confusion often turns to delight when they look up and see the source of all the commotion is a black fur ball leading his clan through the tree canopy. As the name suggests, the Howler Monkey is by far the loudest of all monkeys, and can get particularly boisterous at dawn and dusk, and when protecting its territory. Despite the deceptively loud volume of it’s call, Howler Monkeys are in fact relatively small compared with other new world monkeys. Their size and weight is what allows them to scale and navigate the treetop canopies with such ease and agility, and very rarely will a howler monkey be spotted on the ground. Here we present some facts and information concerning some of Nosara’s, and Costa Rica’s best loved natives.
1. As mentioned, Howler Monkeys are by far the loudest of all monkeys. In fact, the Howler Monkey is the loudest New World Animal (animals native to the Western Hemisphere) that lives on land. Their call can be heard throughout the dense forest canopy at a range of up to 3 miles. This aids them in the thick South and Central American rain forest where vision is limited but sound travels well.
2. Howler Monkeys are New World Monkeys. One of the features that separates them from Old World Monkeys (native to Asia, Africa, or the Middle East) is that they have no sitting pads on their buttocks to cushion them.
3. Although their cry is used for a whole variety of reasons, it is mostly heard when they are scanning the area to let other monkey troupes know that they are there, and that the territory and feeding grounds are already occupied. This prevents territorial overlap of competing packs.
4. Their body hair is long and coarse. Although their primary color is usually black many howlers are also specked with brown and red, and sometimes white.
5. Howler monkeys are native to Central and South America. Their habitat is limited to forest environments, where they spend their days relaxing and searching for food. It has been said that Howler Monkeys are among the least physically active of all monkeys. Their diet includes fruits, nuts, and flowers.
6. Howler monkeys derive the majority of their water supply from the food they eat. However, during dry spells it’s possible to see them roaming around on the ground looking for a water source.
7. Howler Monkeys have prehensile tails that provide a firm grip and are used as a ‘fifth limb.’ The underside of their tails consists of a furless, leathery type material adapted to cling to branches. This allows them to hang down and extend their arms to gather food from trees.
8. Howler Monkey groups usually consist of around 18-25 individuals. The leader is often an older dominant male, who is responsible for a group that includes males, females and babies.
9. Although actually fairly small and lightweight, the bodies of adult Howler Monkeys can range from 20-40 inches. Their tails measure around the same, which means the entire length of a large, adult Howler Monkeys body can sometimes measure nearly two meters. Despite this, they typically weigh in at no more than between 3.5 – 10 kilograms.
10. Howler Monkeys spend a great deal of time grooming each other. They do this for a number of reasons, including comfort, increased intimacy, and to rid the fur of their pack mates from unwanted dirt and insects.
11. Howler Monkeys are not on the endangered species list. However, human encroachment into their territory has resulted in significant habitat loss in some areas. Sadly, Nosara and Playa Guiones are one such area. Consequently, more and more howler monkeys are either being driven out, electrocuted by power lines, or being forced to compete for territory with other packs. Although measures are being taken to protect them the number of casualties keeps rising. In order to combat this we urge people to please build responsibly and not to cut down any trees during the process.
Interested in helping injured monkeys? You can contribute to Nosara’s Refuge for Wild Life.