Brazil is a country that is famous for its rich and diverse wildlife, from jaguars to otters, armadillos, and sloths. With such a wealthy show of wildlife, do monkeys fit? Let’s swing on over and discover how monkeys influence the folklore and culture of Brazil’s indigenous peoples!
There are 131 species and subspecies of monkeys in Brazil, of which nine are endangered. The most common are spider monkeys, capuchin monkeys, squirrel monkeys, howler monkeys, and marmosets. The largest monkey in Brazil is the Muriqui, and the marmoset is the smallest.
Do Monkeys Live In Brazil?
Brazil has one of the widest wildlife biodiversity, and monkeys are no exception. It’s host to around 131 species of primates, like spider monkeys, capuchin monkeys, squirrel monkeys, howler monkeys, and marmosets.
Howler monkeys (Alouatta) are the loudest of all monkeys and use their powerful howls to communicate with other groups and mark their territory. They eat mainly leaves, but they also consume fruits, nuts, and sometimes insects. Some species of howler monkeys are endangered due to habitat loss and hunting.
Spider monkeys (Ateles) are highly intelligent and agile monkeys living in the forest’s high canopy. They eat mainly fruits, but they also eat nuts, seeds, and more. Spider monkeys are endangered because of habitat loss, hunting, and capture for the pet trade.
Capuchin monkeys (Cebinae) are among the most intelligent New World monkeys and use tools to crack open nuts and groom each other. They enjoy various plants, fruits, insects, and birds. While not endangered, they face threats from habitat loss and capture for pet trade and medical research.
Squirrel monkeys (Saimiri) are small and fast-moving monkeys that live in the middle and lower canopy of the Atlantic and Amazon forests. They consume fruits, insects, and small prey and communicate with unique sounds and facial expressions. They’re not endangered, but hunting and habitat loss is a concern.
Marmosets (Cebuella) are small and squirrel-like monkeys that live in the treetops of Brazil’s forests. Their specialized teeth allow them to gouge holes in tree bark and lick up the sap or resin. While they aren’t endangered, they are under threat because of habitat loss and hunters who capture them for the pet trade.
What Is The Largest Monkey In Brazil?
The largest monkey in Brazil is the Muriqui, or “woolly spider monkey,” as the indigenous people of Brazil call it. Muriqui belongs to either the northern or southern species.
The southern muriqui is most prominent in the regions of:
- Rio de Janeiro
- São Paulo
- Espírito Santo
- Minas Gerais
The northern muriqui is most common in:
- Minas Gerais
- Espírito Santo
They have thick, gray-to-yellow-brown fur covering their entire bodies except their faces. Their uniquely long tail acts as a fifth limb to help them easily traverse the treetops.
Males and females sizes are approximately equal for both species, with adult males weighing 21.2 lb (9.6 kg) and adult females weighing 18.5 lb (8.4 kg). Muriquis have a head-body length of 21.5 – 30.5 in (55 – 78 cm), with a tail of (29 – 31.5 in (74 – 80 cm).
The northern muriqui has a mottled pink and black face, with a basic thumb for getting by. On the other hand, southern muriqui have all-black faces and no thumbs.
Both species enjoy fruits, seeds, and leaves and are socially accepting of other group members. They are also pretty vocal and communicate with an impressive array of sounds.
Where Do Monkeys Live In Brazil?
Some monkeys are endemic to Brazil, meaning it’s possible to catch sight of them regularly. Here are a couple of monkeys to look out for in Brazil:
- The crested capuchin (Sapajus robustus) – a large monkey with a conical crest on the head, a black beard, and black and brown fur. It lives in dry forests and savannas in Bahia, Sergipe, Alagoas, Pernambuco, Paraíba, Rio Grande do Norte, Ceará, and Piauí.
- The Aracá uakari (Cacajao ayresi) – a medium-sized monkey with a bald head, a short tail, and long red or brown fur on the body. It inhabits the Aracá River, a northern tributary of the Negro River.
- The buffy-headed marmoset (Callithrix flaviceps) – this is a tiny monkey with white tufts of hair on the sides of the head, a black face, and black and gray fur on the body. It lives only in a few fragments of Atlantic Forest in Minas Gerais and Espírito Santo states.
- The Amazon black howler (Alouatta nigerrima) – it’s a large monkey with a stocky build, a long tail to grasp branches easily, and a loud howl that is audible for miles. It’s most common in the Brazilian Amazon.
- The Alta Floresta titi (Plecturocebus grovesi) – this is a small monkey with a reddish-brown belly, a black tail with a white tip, and yellow fur on the cheeks. It lives exclusively between the Teles-Pires and Juruena rivers in Mato Grosso.
Do Monkeys Have Cultural Significance In Brazil?
Monkeys have a role in Brazil’s folklore and mythology, particularly among the indigenous peoples. The Tupi Indians believe that monkeys were once human, but the god Tupã transformed them into primates as punishment for their wicked deeds.
According to indigenous beliefs, howlers result from a curse from the god Tupã, capuchin monkeys are children who refuse to obey their parents, and spider monkeys are women who commit adultery.
Are Monkeys In Brazil Protected?
Around 20 species of monkeys are endangered in South America, with nine of them living in Brazil.
- Golden lion tamarin (Leontopithecus rosalia) – a small and bright orange monkey that lives in the Atlantic Forest.
- Black-horned capuchin (Sapajus flavius) – a large and robust monkey that inhabits dry forests and savannas in northeastern Brazil.
- Muriqui (Brachyteles spp.) – the largest monkey in South America and lives in the Atlantic Forest.
- Black-faced lion tamarin (Leontopithecus caissara) – a small black-and-golden monkey that lives in the coastal forests of São Paulo and Paraná.
- Blond capuchin (Sapajus flavius) – a medium-sized and yellowish-brown monkey that inhabits dry forests and savannas in northeastern Brazil.
- Buffy-headed marmoset (Callithrix flaviceps) – one of the smallest and most endangered primates in the world. It lives only in a few fragments of Atlantic Forest in Minas Gerais and Espírito Santo states.
- Buffy-tufted marmoset (Callithrix aurita) – a tiny grayish-brown monkey that lives in the Atlantic Forest of southeastern Brazil.
- Kaapori capuchin (Cebus kaapori) – a small and dark brown monkey that lives in the eastern Amazon basin of Brazil.
- Pernambuco pygmy owl (Glaucidium mooreorum) – a small reddish-brown owl living in northeastern Brazil’s Atlantic Forest.
Almost all these monkeys face habitat loss because of logging, urbanization, and the development of other infrastructures. Their natural habitat also suffers from fires, volcanic eruptions, and other natural phenomena.
Some monkeys also fight an uphill battle with poachers, diseases, predators, and competition from other animal species.