Howler Monkeys

Genus: Alouatta – Mantled Howler

The Mantled Howler Monkey, (Alouatta palliata), or sometimes the Golden-mantled Howling Monkey, is a species of howler monkey, a type of New World monkey, from Central and South America. Mantled Howlers take their ‘mantled’ name from the long guard hairs on their sides.


Several subspecies of Mantled Howler have been recognised:

Ecuadorian Mantled Howling Monkey, (Alouatta palliata aequatorialis), in Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Panama and Peru.
Golden-mantled Howling Monkey, (Alouatta palliata palliata), in Costa Rica, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua.
Mexican Howling Monkey, (Alouatta palliata mexicana), in Mexico.

Two additional subspecies of the Mantled Howler are sometimes recognized, however, they are more generally recognized as subspecies of the Coiba Island Howler, (Allouatta coibensis), although the evidence is not conclusive:

Azuero Howling Monkey, (Alouatta palliata trabeata), in Panama;
Coiba Island Howling Monkey, (Alouatta palliata coibensis), in Panama.

The Mantled Howler Monkey is native to Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Honduras, Guatemala, Mexico, Nicaragua and Panama. The Mantled Howler Monkey is among the most commonly seen and heard primates in many Central American national parks, including Manuel Antonio, Corcovado and Soberania.

The Mantled Howlers appearance is similar to other howler monkeys except for colouration. The Mantled Howler Monkey is primarily black except for a fringe of gold to buff hair on each side that gives it its common name. When the males reach maturity, the scrotum turns white. Females are 18 to 25 inches in body length and males are 20 to 27 inches. Its prehensile tail is 21 to 26 inches long. Adult females generally weigh between 6 and 17 pounds while males typically weigh 10 to 22 pounds.

The Mantled Howler Monkey utilise a wide range of vocalisations, including barks, grunts and woofs. The howls characteristic of this group of monkeys and which earn this species its common name, are produced at dawn and dusk, as well as in response to disturbance. Movement within the rainforest canopy and floor includes quadrupedalism (walking, running, and galloping on supports), bridging (crossing gaps by stretching) and climbing. Group size ranges from 10 to 20 members, generally 1 to 3 adult males and 5 to 10 adult females. Grooming behaviour in Mantled Howlers has been shown to reflect social hierarchy, where dominant individuals groom subordinates.

The Mantled Howler monkey is protected from international trade under Appendix I of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES). They are most at risk from rainforest fragmentation which has caused forced relocation of groups to less habitable regions.

Genus: Alouatta – Black Howler Monkey

The Black Howler Monkey (Alouatta caraya) is a species of howler monkey, from Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil and Paraguay. It is the southernmost member of the Alouatta genus. The Black Howler Monkey lives in groups of 3 to 19 individuals (usually 7 to 9). There are usually 1 – 3 males for every 7 – 9 females in a group. When mating, males and females within a single group pair off.

Named for their vocalizations, the Black Howler Monkey may be heard most often around sunrise. This ‘dawn chorus’ sounds much more like roaring than howling and it announces the howlers position as a means to avoiding conflict with other groups. The Black Howler Monkeys call can be heard up to 5 kilometres away.

Black Howler Monkeys commonly sleep or rest up to 80% of the day, making it one of the least active monkeys in the New World. Their habitat is forest where they eat mostly leaves, however, it will also eat the occasional fruit, such as figs.

Black Howler Monkeys generally prefer walking and climbing to running or leaping. The prehensile tail is very strong and acts as a fifth limb, allowing the monkeys greater versatility when climbing and allowing them greater safety in the occasional fall from a high branch. Because their limb structure makes terrestrial movement awkward, they spend most of their time in the trees and only come down for water during dry spells. Otherwise the monkeys drink by wetting their hand on a moist leaf and then licking the water of their hand.

The Black Howler Monkeys life span is up to 20 years, however, more commonly 15 years in the wild. The Black Howler Monkey is also found in the rainforests of Guyana.

Gestation lasts roughly 6 months and one young is born, which is carried underneath the mother. The young are weaned at around 1 and a half years of age and live to approximately 20 years of age. Several females will help to look after a single baby (called allomothering), carrying, grooming and protecting it, and even the males will help too, although young males are not allowed to do so, as they can sometimes harm the infant.

Genus: Alouatta – Other Howler Monkey Species

The Coiba Island Howler Monkey (Alouatta coibensis) is a species of howler monkey endemic to Panama. Although the Coiba Island Howler is generally recognized as a separate species, mitochondrial DNA testing is inconclusive as to whether it is actually a subspecies of the Mantled Howler.

The Guatemalan Black Howler Monkey (Alouatta pigra) is a species of howler monkey from Central America. It is found in Belize, Guatemala and Mexico.

The Red-handed Howler Monkey (Alouatta belzebul) is a species of howler monkey endemic to Brazil. This monkey is usually entirely black, however, in some regions females can have red feet and tail tip.

The Brown Howler Monkey (Alouatta guariba) also known as Brown Howling Monkey is a species of howler monkey that lives in Argentina and Brazil. The Brown Howler Monkey lives in groups of 2 to 11 individuals.

There are two subspecies:

Northern Brown Howler (Alouatta guariba guariba)
Southern Brown Howler (Alouatta guariba clamitans)

The Guyanan Red Howler Monkey (Alouatta macconnelli) is a species of howler monkey native to Guyana, Trinidad, French Guiana and Brazil.

The Amazon Black Howler Monkey (Alouatta nigerrima) is a species of howler monkey endemic to Brazil.

The Bolivian Red Howler Monkey (Alouatta sara) is a species of howler monkey endemic to Bolivia.

The Venezuelan Red Howler Monkey (Alouatta seniculus) is a South American species of howler monkey found in Colombia, Venezuela, Trinidad, Guyana, French Guiana, Brazil, Ecuador, Peru and Bolivia. The Venezuelan Red Howler Monkey lives in groups of 3 to 9 individuals.

Howler Monkey Conservation Status

Threats to howler monkeys include being hunted for food and export. As with many other species in South America, although they are not officially threatened with extinction, their habitat is being steadily destroyed and there are perhaps only 100,000 surviving in the wild now.