Howler Monkey Facts

This page contains howler monkey facts and information. You'll find out where howler monkeys live, what they eat, how they socialize and you'll even hear the sounds that they make!

This page is part of our Rainforest Animals series.

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Watch the videos below to see howler monkeys in their natural habitat ... and also to hear them howling!

Howler Monkey Information

Known for their loud calls, the 15 species of howler monkey live in the forests of South and Central America.

Howler monkeys are among the loudest land animals, not just in the rainforest, but in the whole world!

Howler monkeys are also sometimes kept as pets. How would you like to live with one of the loudest animals in the world?

How To Recognise A Howler Monkey

Howler Monkey
A young howler monkey. Notice how the nostrils are pointing outwards: this is a characteristic of all New World monkeys.

Howler monkeys range in height from around 2 to 3 feet (60 – 90 cm). They have extremely long tails, which can be as long as – and even significantly longer than – their height.

Their tails are ‘prehensile’, which means they are able to grip. They are used to hold onto branches, and also to reach food that would otherwise be too far away.

Males are taller and heavier than females.

Howler monkey species vary in colour, and can either be black or various shades of brown and orange.

Howler monkeys have an enlarged hyoid bone in their throats. This amplifies their calls.

Howler monkeys, like all monkeys from the Americas, have nostrils that are quite far apart and sideways-facing. African monkeys have nostrils that are closer together, and that point in the same direction.


How Howler Monkeys Move Around

Howler monkeys are big and rather slow-moving when compared to other monkeys.

Howler monkeys usually walk along the tops of branches on all fours, using their tails in addition to their hands to maintain their balance and prevent themselves from falling.

Howler monkeys don’t like to jump from tree to tree. They prefer always to have a hand, foot, or tail hold on a tree as they reach over to the next tree.

Howler monkeys have been known to link together hand-to-tail between trees, making a bridge for young howler monkeys to walk across. It’s a long way down from the canopy!

You can see how howler monkeys move from tree to tree in this video. Warning: there is a heart-stopping moment when one of them slips!

Howler Monkey Facts: Troops

Howler monkeys live in troops of between 10 and 20 monkeys. There are always more females than male monkeys in the troop. Living in a troop allows the monkeys to protect their feeding grounds and to look after their young. It also provides extra protection from predators.

Howler monkeys are ‘diurnal’, which means they are active during the day and sleep at night – just like us!

Howler Monkey Sounds

Howler monkeys get their name from the loud howls, grunts, roars and barks that they make.

Listen to the video below to hear howler monkey sounds.

Howler monkeys are most vocal at dawn and dusk. The troop’s cries tell other troops where they are and how big their troop is. This helps to prevent fights among different troops.

Howler monkeys are very territorial but they do not often fight other troops. The noise is often enough to keep competing troops away.

The Loudest Land Animal In The World?

Howler monkeys are the loudest animals in the world. When a whole troop of howler monkeys get together and start howling, barking, and grunting, the noise can be heard up to three miles (4.8 km) away!

Howler Monkey Babies!

Howler monkey females can have one baby a year. When the baby is born it is a light golden brown colour so that it can hide in its mother’s fur. If the baby is a girl, it will keep the light brown coloured fur. If the baby is a boy, the fur will begin to darken and turn black when the monkey is about three years old.

How Long Do Howler Monkeys Live?

Howler monkeys can live to be about 15 to 20 years old.

What Do Howler Monkeys Eat?

Howler monkeys are mainly vegetarian. Their diet comprises leaves, fruit, flowers and nuts. They will also eat eggs from bird nests.

Howler monkeys get all the liquid they need from the fruits and plants they eat.

Howler Monkey Predators

Howler monkeys are relatively large animals, and spend most of their time in the trees. This means that, apart from occasional attacks from harpy eagles, they don’t have many predators.

Rainforest Bird Harpy Eagle
Howler monkey facts: sometimes harpy eagles eat howler monkeys!

The howler monkey's biggest threat comes from deforestation. Humans have also hunted howler monkeys for their meat and fur.

Howler Monkey Facts:

  • Howler monkeys live in groups called “troops”.
  • Howler monkeys are diurnal, which means they are active during the day and sleep at night.
  • Howler monkeys live to be about 15 to 20 years old.
  • Like humans, howler monkeys are 'trichromats', which means they have 3 types of colour receptors in their eyes, improving their colour vision.
  • Howler monkeys have long, gripping tails that they can use to pick food or grab branches. They use their tails like extra arms!
  • Adult howler monkeys will sometimes join together hand-to- tail to create a monkey bridge for young howler monkeys to cross.
  • Howler monkeys get their name from the extremely loud howls, grunts, roars and barks they make in the morning and at night.
  • Howler monkeys are the loudest mammal in the world. Their calls are so loud they can be heard up to three miles (4.8km) away!
  • Howler monkeys don’t need to drink water since they get all that they need from the fruits and plants that they eat.
  • Occasionally large birds like the harpy eagle will hunt howler monkeys but their biggest threat comes from humans.

Howler Monkey Activities:

  • Get together with your friends and practice making howler monkey sounds.
  • Draw a picture of a troop of howler monkeys. Draw them making a bridge between the trees or howling to let other troops know where they are.

Howler Monkey Facts: Conclusion

We hope that you've enjoyed learning about howler monkeys. If you have any questions then feel free to ask in the comments section below.

You can discover more amazing rainforest animals on this page: Rainforest Animals List with Pictures & Facts

3 thoughts on “Howler Monkey Facts”

    • Great question.

      This is a general answer, as there are several species of howler monkey and each will have evolved to fit into its own particular niche.

      Howler monkeys spend much of their lives in the forest canopy – so their main requirement in order to survive is… a forest canopy! Deforestation and forest fragmentation are the primary threats to howler monkeys.
      Howler monkeys feed primarily on leaves and fruit, so they need the right kind of trees in the right kind of forest.

      Therefore, the environmental conditions that howler monkeys need to survive are those that encourage the growth of those trees; namely the environmental conditions found in tropical regions of South and Central America.
      That means: high amount of rain, high average temperature; and minimal temperature variation between the seasons (which means that the trees can grow year-round, rather than just in the summer).

      We hope this helps.


      The Active Wild Team


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