Mantled Howler monkey

The mantled howler is characterized by  the golden hairs on the lower sides of its body. It can live in larger groups than all other howler species (up to 40 individuals). Mantled howlers play an important role in the rainforest ecology as seed dispersers. 

Taxonomy

Scientific name: Alouatta palliata 

A. palliata is a specie of New World Monkey (Platyrrhini), of the family Atelidae (which includes howlers and other prehensile tailed monkeys), and belong to the genus Alouatta (howler monkeys). Currently 15 species of howler monkeys have been recognized. 

 

Geographic range & habitat

Mantled howlers are found from Southern Mexico and Central America to Colombia and Ecuador. They are native to the Neotropical region. Their range includes most types of forests between sea level and 2500 meters. 

They live in lowland and montane rain forests, including primary, secondary, and regenerated forest habitats. They can inhabit seasonal or nonseasonal forests, mangrove forests, and swamps; as well as evergreen and semi-deciduous forests.  

Longevity

The average lifespan of mantled howlers in the wild is 16 years, although other studies suggest that on average the lifespan of males in the wild is 7 years, and 11 to 12 years for females. They can live up to 24 years in captivity, and 20 years on average. 

Diet

Mantled howlers are folivores, which means their diet consists mostly of leaves. Howlers are the only New World primates who eat large amounts of mature leaves as part of their diet, and particularly the mantled howler is the most folivorous species of Central American monkey . Although they eat mature leaves, they tend to prefer young, softer leaves when available (since younger leaves have more nutrients and less toxins than more mature ones). Depending on the season they will also eat plenty of flowers (during dry season) and fruits (during wet season). Leaves make up from 50% to 70% of their diet, but when fruit is available it can make up for 50% of their diet or even more, surpassing the amount of leaves they eat. They get their water from their food, by drinking from tree holes, or by accessing the water trapped inside bromeliad plants. Since leaves are low energy foods and take a lot of time & energy to digest, mantled howlers spend most of their time resting, and howl to locate other groups in order to avoid violent encounters that would take a lot of energy from them. 

Behavior

Groups have more females than males and can contain between 10 to 20 individuals.

They howl more during dusk and dawn.

Fun facts

  • They have an energetically conservative lifestyle: resting a lot to conserve energy, becoming active mainly just to eat, and howling to avoid encounters (and fights) with other groups.
  • They have prehensile tails that work as a fifth ‘’arm’’.

Reproduction

Their gestation period lasts 186 days. Females give birth to only one offspring, and breeding occurs year-round.