Animal Facts

Black Howler Monkey

Scientific Name: Alouatta caraya

Fast Fact:

The black howler monkey is the loudest land animal in the world!

Black Howler Monkeys

If you come upon a troop of black howler monkeys in a zoo or in the wild, you might think you are looking at two different species. But don’t be fooled! The males and females are sexually dimorphic, meaning they have different physical characteristics. While adult males are black, adult females and juveniles are a golden tan color, making them seem like a different species. If you look closely though, their body shapes and faces are extremely similar, they just happen to be wearing different colors.

STATUS: The black howler monkey is listed as Least Concern by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

HABITAT: The black howler monkey originated in the forest areas of South America and currently resides in both Central and South America, including some of the local islands. Black howler monkeys prefer tall, aged forests, although they can adapt to live in a variety of forest habitats. Within the forest these monkeys occupy the middle and upper canopies of the trees.

DIET: Black howler monkeys are herbivores, meaning they eat primarily plant matter. They are further classified as folivores, meaning leaf-eaters, and frugivores, meaning fruit-eaters. A howler diet includes canopy leaves, fruits such as figs and plums, buds, flowers and sometimes nuts. These monkeys get most of their water from their food, making juicy fruits and leaves an excellent, multi-functional snack.

PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICS: With a body length of around 24 inches and an average tail length of 20-24 inches, it is not surprising that the massive tail of the howler is prehensile, meaning it is used for grasping. Black howler monkeys appear to be hunched over and can weigh up to 20 pounds, although the adult males tend to be larger than the adult females.

Loudest Land Animal

True to its name, the black howler monkey is a howler! It is the loudest land animal, and the second loudest animal on earth, second only to the blue whale. The males do most of the howling, and their sound can carry for miles. They use this form of communication to inform other black howler troops of their location so they avoid overlapping. Females can only make short, softer barking sounds.

Black howler monkeys are specially designed for making loud whooping noises. The hyoid bone in their throat is modified and forms a bony box called a corniculum. The corniculum is an egg-shaped pouch that acts as an amplifying chamber, enabling these monkeys to out-howl all other land animals.

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