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Common Woolly Monkey Fact File

Lagothrix lagotricha

Credit: Public Domain

Weight

3-10kg

(6.6-22lbs)

Length

40-70cm

(16-28in)

Lifespan

Wild 30 years

Captive 30 years

Diet

Omnivores

Leaves, Fruits, Insects

Conservation Status

IUCN

Vulnerable

A Large New World Monkey!

The common woolly monkey is considered a contender for the largest new world primate with only one other species vying for the spot. They are covered by thick fur which protects against insects and the sun.

They are omnivores with a wide ranging diet including leaves, fruits and insects which they spend the day searching for in the trees.


Females give birth to a single young which is carried on their underside initially.


They are threatened through habitat loss and hunting for food.


Read on to learn more about these magnificent mammals.

Appearance

What does the Common Woolly Monkey look like?

Across their body these primates are covered by a thick coat of fur which is variable in color. Across their body the fur may be black, gray or reddish-brown. This variation in color appears to be standard across different parts of their range.


As this species ages they will develop a fringe of long hair along the arms and legs. on their face their is bare skin which is black and the palms of the hands are pink.


The common woolly monkey has a long tail which is covered by fur above and helps them to hang on to branches. This adds between 60 and 72cm (23.6-28.3in) to their length.


The common woolly monkey is among the largest of the New world primates with an average individual measuring 40-70cm (16-28in) long. They weigh 3-10kg (6.6-22lbs). Their weight tends to vary across the seasons.


Males are heavier than females. They also have significantly larger canine teeth which they use to help defend themselves.

Adaptations

How does the Common Woolly Monkey survive in its habitat?


On the underside of their tail is a bare patch of skin which assists with gripping on to trees as they move through the forest.


Their thick coat helps to protect their skin against the sun and insect bites.

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Diet

What does the Common Woolly Monkey eat?

Common woolly monkeys are omnivores which feed on a range of fruit, flowers, sap, leaves, seeds and insects.


A group kept in a captive setting were seen to capture and prey on a swallow.


By consuming large amounts of seeds they play an important role in distributing these through the ecosystem.

Learn more about the Common Woolly Monkey in this video from Manu Explorers Peru on YouTube

Range

Where do you find the Common Woolly Monkey?

South America is the home of the common woolly monkey. Here they can be found in Brazil; Colombia; Ecuador and Peru. Their current presence in Venezuela is uncertain. They should occur in the area but none have been collected.

Habitat

Where can the Common Woolly Monkey survive?

This species is found in forest and savanna habitats. During certain parts of the year they will move in to flooded forests to collect the fruit found there.

Common Woolly Monkey (Lagothrix lagotricha)

Credit: Public Domain

Reproduction

How does the Common Woolly Monkey produce its young?

This species is considered promiscuous and males within the group mate with as many females as they can.


Young are born after a 225 day gestation period. At birth the young have straw colored fur. Initially they are carried on the mothers belly. By six weeks old they move on to the back and by 5 months old they are becoming independent.


This species will suckle its young for between 9 and 12 months.


Sexual maturity is reached between five and eight years old. Males tend to mature earlier than females. To avoid inbreeding the females will leave their birth group when they reach this age and join another.


Females tend to give birth once every two years.

Behavior

What does the Common Woolly Monkey do during its day?

These monkeys mostly move through the trees on all fours. When they come to ground they may walk on all fours or they can also walk upright on their two back legs. While doing this they will be supported by the weight of their tail.


This species is active during the day when they will seek out food. It is common for them to take a rest during the middle of the day.


When threatened the males will perform a wide yawn which displays their long canine teeth in effort to scare off threats.


They will move through the forest in groups of between 10 and 45 individuals. Groups include a mix of multiple males, females and their young. These groups tend to break up in smaller troops of 6 individuals when feeding.


Larger groups are often aggregations of family units which will separate during the day and come together at night to rest together offering safety in numbers.


This species has been seen moving through the forest in a mixed troop with other primate species.


Their is some overlap between the territory of groups and occasionally females will move in to the other group for a short period.


These primates communicate with one another using facial expressions and calls such as a loud bark or scream. Males which move in to a new territory will rub a scent gland on their chest to communicate with the group.

Common Woolly Monkey (Lagothrix lagotricha)

Credit: Public Domain

Predators and Threats

What stops the Common Woolly Monkey from surviving and thriving?

Natural predators of the common woolly monkey include birds of prey such as eagles and cats such as the ocelot or jaguar.


While considered common populations of the common woolly monkey are decreasing.


The main impact on their numbers is hunting for food and their fur. They are also suffering through habitat loss. This is primarily driven by the expansion of agriculture in their range.

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Quick facts

This species may also be known as the Humboldt's woolly monkey or the brown woolly monkey.


Five subspecies of the common woolly monkey.

Common Woolly Monkey (Lagothrix lagotricha)

Credit: Public Domain

References

Burnie, D., 2011. Animal. 3rd ed. London: DK

Jackson, T. and Chinery, M., 2012. The illustrated encyclopedia of animals of the world. London: Southwater.   

Stone, I. 2001. "Lagothrix lagotricha" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed April 15, 2022 at https://animaldiversity.org/accounts/Lagothrix_lagotricha/ 

Saveamericasforests.org. 2022. Biodiversity-Woolly Monkey. [online] Available at: <https://www.saveamericasforests.org/Yasuni/Biodiversity/Woolly%20Monkey.html> [Accessed 15 April 2022]. 

Quinlan, C., 2022. Brown Woolly Monkey | New England Primate Conservancy. [online] New England Primate Conservancy – ​Committed to leaving a legacy of hope ​and tools to build a better tomorrow for all the Earth's citizens. Available at: <https://neprimateconservancy.org/brown-woolly-monkey/> [Accessed 15 April 2022].

Wisconsin National Primate Research Center. 2022. Woolly monkey. [online] Available at: <https://primate.wisc.edu/primate-info-net/pin-factsheets/pin-factsheet-woolly-monkey/> [Accessed 15 April 2022].

Mongabay. 2022. Woolly Monkey. [online] Available at: <https://rainforests.mongabay.com/kids/animal-profiles/woolly-monkey.html> [Accessed 15 April 2022].

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