Monkey Forest Tales: A day in the life of a Red howler monkey


Unamas - SR Enero 2012 394Today post is the fifth and final post in the series of posts about a day in the life of a group of monkeys. This time we are going to join a group of red howler monkeys (Alouatta seniculus). Our red howler monkeys’ group is composed of 8 individuals, two adult males (an alpha and a beta), two adult females, one subadult female and a juvenile male and two babies, a male and a female. Red howler monkeys are big reddish monkeys which faces looks like both males and females had a beard. The reason for this is that in both sexes, although a bit more in males, the hyoids bone is large and it’s the reason for their loud and deep guttural vocalizations can be hear by kilometers.

Our group started their day around 5:30 am with the males howling when the sunrise started. The females were feeding their babies but after a few minutes they join them. A couple of other groups were howling in the distance, answering our groups call. Juvenile and subadult were still sleepy when they started howling, but after an hour they both join. The howling lasted until 7:30 with the alpha male howling almost all the time and the rest of the group joining him from time to time.

Around 8 am the females start moving with their babies in their lower back, their movements fast, agile and silent from branch to branch, a few jumps but mostly like walking between branches. Suddenly, they stop in a tall tree, they start eating white flowers from a Platanote tree, this trees produces a white flower with sweet smell and big green fruits like plantain (that’s why is called Platanote in Spanish), those fruits dry and open and all the winged seed fly with the wind after a while. Then they move to and Anime tree and eat some young leaves, the whole group stay eating young leaves for a while, while the babies start playing to bite each other hanging from their tails.

They move for another hour or so, stopping to eat some fruits and some leaves from different trees until they reach a big tree of Avichure full of pink flowers. The whole tree crown was cover with flowers and only a few branches tips have some new leaves. Around 11:30 the juvenile and babies were moving playing around, chasing each other and then hanging and biting. The females rest together close to the alpha male. The beta male was eating at the farthest branch. It was time for a nap.

Slowly the babies when back to their mothers and drink some milk from them. It wasn’t until around 2 pm that females start eating some flowers again, the subadult females was grooming the alpha male and the babies were playing again.

The group start moving again around 2:30 pm, very fast with a clear direction, one after the other, first the oldest female, followed by the alpha male and the other females, then the juvenile and the beta male at the end, in a line. They stop in another Avichure tree this one had less flowers and more light green young leaves. This time the babies also tried a bit of leaves from their mothers’ mouths. After a while one female start grooming the male, her baby running around them, and from time to time pulling the males’ tail. It was almost four when they start to move again, slowly this time. They were moving towards a tall, big tree cover by vines and lianas. They dormitory for this night sleep. The first ones to sit down to sleep where the females, however, the babies were moving around making noises and jumping. Then the alpha male join them, very close to them. The juvenile and subadult where grooming a nearby branch. The beta male was the last to enter the tree and sit down in a different branch than the rest of the group. Around 5 pm no more movements were seen. The group was ready for the night sleep.

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Unamas - SR Enero 2012 390


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