What do monkeys eat?

Frequently, the term monkey is used in a generic way to encompass a group of primate animals that range from small individuals, such as capuchin monkeys, to large and intelligent gorillas, with whom humans share 98% of our genes, being the species closest to us, after the chimpanzee.

The different groups of monkeys, in addition to presenting different characteristics, have different types of habits both in their behavior and in relation to food. In this AnimalWised article we want to present information about this last aspect, so that you know what do monkeys eat.

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  1. Are monkeys omnivores, herbivores, or carnivores?
  2. Monkey feeding
  3. What do monkeys eat in captivity?

Are monkeys omnivores, herbivores, or carnivores?

Almost all monkeys are omnivores, although there are some minority groups of herbivorous monkeys, so there are no exclusively carnivorous monkeys. Then, ¿monkeys eat meat? Some do, but they do not occupy the entirety of your diet.

As we have mentioned, the term monkey is in general use, in addition to not having a taxonomic application, its use is applied to designate various animals found in different groups. Thus, they belong to the primates order and the anthropoidea suborder, which is divided into two infraorders: platyrrini and catharrini. Each infraorder is made up of superfamilies, families, and subfamilies. In this sense, primates belonging to the families Cebidae (from the platyrrini infraorder), Hylobatidae (from the Catharrini infraorder) and the cercopitecid group (also from the Catharrini infraorder) are omnivores. Colobus (infraorder catharrini) are herbivores.

Regardless of the group to which they belong, these animals, although they may have a preference for a particular food, generally have a varied diet.

Meet the different types of monkeys that exist in this other article.

Monkey feeding

Each group of monkeys feeds in a specific way, since in general this will have to do with their particular habits and the type of ecosystem in which they develop, which will ultimately define the kind of food they will consume..

Next, we will know what monkeys eat depending on the family to which they belong:

Family Cebidae

This group corresponds to the Platyrrhians, who are the new world monkeys, commonly known as capuchin monkeys, owl monkeys, squirrel monkeys, and marmosets, among others.

Their Feeding Habits They are made up of:

  • Fruits (mainly)
  • Nectar
  • flowers
  • Walnuts
  • Leaves
  • Mushrooms
  • Bird eggs
  • Insects
  • Mice
  • Bats
  • Small reptiles
  • Amphibians
  • Birds
  • Squirrels
  • Baby coatis

Cercopithecidae family

This family comprises the Catharrini and they are the old world monkeys, such as baboons, macaques and colobus. The two subfamilies that comprise the group (cercopithecinae and colobinae) have totally different eating habits. Cercopitecids are omnivores and include in their diet:

  • Insects
  • Estate
  • Tubers
  • Leaves
  • Mushrooms
  • Worms
  • Rodents
  • Hares
  • Eggs
  • Birds

For their part, colobins feed mainly on leaves and seeds, but to a lesser extent they also consume fruits, flowers and lichens..

Family Hylobatidae

These hominoids of small size, long arms and arboreal habits include all those commonly called gibbons. Their diet is made up of:

  • Ripe fruits
  • Leaves
  • Sprouts
  • flowers
  • Invertebrates (only 10% of the diet)

Family Pongidae

Within this family we find orangutans, gorillas and chimpanzees, so that the largest species of monkeys are located. Although they all belong to the same family, if we ask ourselves what these monkeys eat, we should know that they follow different diets. Orangutans consume:

  • Fruits
  • Leaves
  • Stems
  • Insects
  • Bird eggs
  • Fish (eventually)
  • Mineral rich soils
  • Medicinal plants

For his part, gorillas They eat mainly fruits, leaves and shoots, but in a reduced way they can eventually consume some insects.

Talking about chimpanzees, They have a varied diet, in which they include:

  • Fruits
  • Leaves
  • Branches
  • Walnuts
  • Insects
  • Eggs
  • Larvae
  • Invertebrates
  • Carrion

However, it has been confirmed that they also practice cannibalism, hunting chimpanzees from other groups. These animals are able to use tools (sticks, stones) to remove insects and larvae from holes or open nuts..

What do monkeys eat in captivity?

Monkeys, for a long time, have been one of the main animals that have been kept captive in zoos and circuses, although to a lesser extent they are also kept as companion animals, in addition to those used for scientific experimentation. However, monkeys are wild animals that should not be kept in captivity for no reason, since these actions generate great suffering. The exception resides when an injured animal is rescued that must be treated to return it to its natural habitat or when it is possible to rescue those monkeys used for illegal animal trafficking, zoos, etc., which in many cases a reintegration into the environment is not possible. . In this article we talk more in depth about this topic: "¿Can you have a monkey as a pet? ".

When the monkeys are in captivity, are forced to modify their diets, since they strictly depend on what is supplied to them, for which, they end up consuming sweets, processed pet foods and fruits, although in many cases the fruits provided are not enough to cover their nutritional needs. In this sense, it is very common for monkeys in captivity to be malnourished and with significant deficiencies of vitamins and minerals that end up causing them diseases..

We must remember that animals such as chimpanzees and gorillas share almost all their genetic information with humans, so they require a nutritionally appropriate diet to be healthy. There are not a few species of primates that are in danger of extinction, mainly due to the alteration of their habitats and the intense hunting to which they are subjected. Although there are various initiatives to contain the pressure that puts these animals at risk, many more efforts are still needed to make the results more effective..

If you have found a monkey that is injured, abandoned or in poor condition and needs help, it is best to take it to a wildlife recovery center so that they can treat him correctly and assess whether it is possible to release him when he is well. If it is complete, the center will recommend the best care and tell you that monkeys of the species to which it belongs eat so that you can offer them a diet as similar as possible to the one they would follow in the wild..

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