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Venezuelan Red Howler Fact File

Alouatta seniculus

Credit: Miguelrangeljr, CC BY-SA 3.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0>, via Wikimedia Commons

Weight

5-9kg

(11-20lbs)

Length

50-63cm

(20-25in)

Lifespan

Wild 20 years

Captive 20 years

Diet

Herbivores

Fruits, Leaves

Conservation Status

IUCN

Least Concern

The Soundtrack of South America's Forest!

The Venezuelan Red Howler is named for its loud call which carries out across the forest to mark their territory. This alerts other troops of red howler monkeys of their presence.

This species feeds primarily on leaves which provide little nutrition and as a result much of their time is spent resting.

Groups are formed of a male and a range of females with which they can mate. If a new male takes over the group he will kill any offspring which were present in the group.

They are threatened by deforestation and hunting which has decreased their number.

Learn more about these magnificent mammals by reading on below.

Appearance

What does the Venezuelan Red Howler look like?

Their body is covered by bright orange hair which becomes a lighter, golden color on the underside. Males have a large beard on their chin. Their face features dark skin and has little fur.


The face appears elongated to account for the enlarged bones and voice box necessary


At the end of the body is a long tail which adds between 55 and 68cm (22-27in) to their length. This tail is strong and prehensile meaning it can wrap around branches. This is able to support their entire body weight. A small portion of the underside of the tail is bald to increase the grip.


An average Venezuelan red howler monkey will measure 50-63cm (20-25in) long with a weight between 5 and 9kg (11-20lbs) . This is the largest of the 14 species of howler monkey. Males are much larger than females.

Adaptations

How does the Venezuelan Red Howler survive in its habitat?


The hyloid bone in the throat of the Venezuelan red howler has been specially adapted to help amplify their call so they can make their namesake howl. Their jaw also opens wide to assist with this.


This species is able to digest large amounts of life as they have an enlarged cecum.

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Diet

What does the Venezuelan Red Howler eat?

Venezuelan Red Howlers are herbivores which feed on fruits and leaves. This food source is low in nutritional value and as a result they need up to 1kg (2.25lbs) per day to provide their energy needs.


Seeds, moss, twigs and other plant matter may also be consumed.


They are selective with their food and will target young leaves and shoots which are easier to digest. This species shows an ability to determine leaves which are poisonous and avoid these.


This species has been seen going to ground to feed on clay which provides salts and minerals they require to survive.

Learn more about the Venezuelan Red Howler in this video from BBC Earth on YouTube

Range

Where do you find the Venezuelan Red Howler?

South America is the native home of the Venezuelan Red Howler. Here they can be found in Brazil; Colombia; Ecuador; Peru; Trinidad and Tobago and Venezuela.

Habitat

Where can the Venezuelan Red Howler survive?

These animals are found in forest and savanna habitats.

Venezuelan Red Howler (Alouatta seniculus)

Credit: Petruss, CC BY-SA 4.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0>, via Wikimedia Commons

Reproduction

How does the Venezuelan Red Howler produce its young?

A single infant is born following a 7 month gestation period. For the first month of life the infant will cling to its mother's underside.


After this they move on to her back where they ride until they become independent at six months old.


When a new male takes over as leader of a group he will kill any offspring currently in the troop to make females receptive to mating sooner. Females will attempt to defend their young against these attacks and this is successful in around 25% of attempts.


At maturity both the male and female young will leave their birth group and join a new one.


Sexual maturity is reached between 4 and 5 years old. Typically males do not breed for the first time until they are 7 years old.

Behavior

What does the Venezuelan Red Howler do during its day?

This species is named for its loud vocalizations. They create howls, hoops and hollers which can carry for distances of up to 2km (1.25 miles) across the forest. These calls are used to mark their territory and warn other groups of their presence.


These animals are social and will form groups headed by a single male with another 3- 4 females.


As their diet provides little energy much of their time is spent resting.

Venezuelan Red Howler (Alouatta seniculus)

Credit: Petruss, CC BY-SA 4.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0>, via Wikimedia Commons

Predators and Threats

What stops the Venezuelan Red Howler from surviving and thriving?

The harpy eagle is one of the few natural predators of the Venezuelan Red Howler monkey.


If threatened this species will produce a loud grunting call to warn other group members of the impending danger.


Populations of the red howler monkey are declining across their range.


This is being driven by hunting, habitat loss and fragmentation. Competition from introduced species and disease are other factors in this decline. As a plant eater they are susceptible to droughts which reduce food availability.

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Quick facts

They may also be known as the Colombian red howler monkey.


Red howler monkeys are one of the six species of howler monkey found in South America.

Venezuelan Red Howler (Alouatta seniculus)

Credit: Jiel, CC BY-SA 4.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0>, via Wikimedia Commons

References

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

Ambrose, J., 2015. Wildlife Of The World. 1st ed. London: Dorling Kindersley

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

Link, A., Palacios, E., Cortés-Ortiz, L., Stevenson, P.R., Cornejo, F.M., Mittermeier, R.A., Shanee, S., de la Torre, S., Boubli, J.P., Guzmán-Caro, D.C., Moscoso, P., Urbani, B. & Seyjagat, J. 2021. Alouatta seniculusThe IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2021: e.T198676562A198687134. https://dx.doi.org/10.2305/IUCN.UK.2021-2.RLTS.T198676562A198687134.en. Accessed on 29 March 2022.

Normile, R. 2001. "Alouatta seniculus" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed March 30, 2022 at https://animaldiversity.org/accounts/Alouatta_seniculus/

Genomics.senescence.info. 2022. Red howler monkey (Alouatta seniculus) longevity, ageing, and life history. [online] Available at: <https://genomics.senescence.info/species/entry.php?species=Alouatta_seniculus> [Accessed 30 March 2022].

The Dallas World Aquarium | #DWAZOO. 2022. Red howler monkey | The Dallas World Aquarium. [online] Available at: <https://dwazoo.com/animal/red-howler-monkey/> [Accessed 30 March 2022].

Belfast Zoo. 2022. Venezuelan red howler monkey at Belfast Zoo. [online] Available at: <https://www.belfastcity.gov.uk/zoo/our-animals/mammals/venezuelan-red-howler-monkey> [Accessed 30 March 2022].

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