Monkeys are one of the most popular animals in the world. People are fascinated by their intelligence, their playful nature, and their ability to swing from tree to tree. But what do monkeys eat?
There are more than 260 species of monkey, and they live in a variety of habitats, from tropical rainforests to cold mountain forests. This means that there is no one “monkey diet” – each species has its own unique eating habits.
Some monkeys are omnivorous, eating both plants and animals. Others are herbivorous, eating only plants. And still others are insectivorous, eating only insects.
One of the best-known monkey species is the spider monkey. Spider monkeys are found in the tropical forests of Central and South America. They get their name from their long, thin arms and legs, which look like spider legs.
Spider monkeys are omnivorous, meaning they eat both plants and animals. Their diet consists of fruits, leaves, flowers, nuts, seeds, eggs, and small vertebrates (animals with a backbone).
Fruits and leaves make up the majority of the spider monkey’s diet. They eat more than 50 different kinds of fruit, and their favorites include bananas, coconuts, figs, and mangos. Spider monkeys also eat a lot of leaves – up to 400 pounds (180 kilograms) per year! – including those of the oak, palm, and banana trees.
In addition to fruits and leaves, spider monkeys also eat flowers, nuts, seeds, and eggs. They have been known to crack open coconuts with their teeth and eat the meat inside. And they will also eat small vertebrates such as lizards, snakes, and rodents.
The howler monkey is another well-known species of monkey. Howler monkeys are found in the tropical forests of Central and South America. They get their name from their loud calls, which can be heard up to three miles (five kilometers) away!
Howler monkeys are mostly herbivorous, meaning they eat mostly plants. Their diet consists of leaves, fruits, flowers, and nuts. They eat more than 150 different kinds of leaves each day! Howler monkeys also eat fruit when it is available – their favorites include figs, bananas, and grapes.
In addition to plants, howler monkeys will also occasionally eat eggs or small vertebrates. But these make up a very small part of their diet; most howler monkeys are strict vegetarians.