Skip to Content

Cool Facts about Howler Monkeys

Are you interested in learning some facts about howler monkeys? We have some fascinating information for you!

howler monkey family
Family of howler monkeys

Monkeys are divided into two groups–New World monkeys and Old World monkeys. There are several differences between these groups. Here are a few of them.

  • Old World monkeys are from Europe, Africa, and Asia, and New World monkeys are from the Americas.
  • New World monkeys spend most of their time in trees, and Old World monkeys stay on the ground.
  • New World monkeys can use their tails to hold on to objects, but Old World monkeys can't.
  • New World monkeys have flatter noses with nostrils that are further apart while Old World monkeys have noses that face down with nostrils that are closer together.

Howler monkeys are New World monkeys. In fact, they are the largest of the New World monkeys.  

There are 15 different types of howler monkeys! You can probably guess where their name comes from, but if not, stick around and find out.

Physical Description of Howler Monkeys

Howler monkey bodies can reach lengths of 22 to 36 inches long, but their tails can add an extra 20-30 more inches. That’s right, their tail is about the same size as their body, and sometimes even a little longer.

They have hair, not fur like other animals. The hair can be brown, black, or tan. A howler has wide, side-opening nostrils and no pads on their rumps, unlike the Old World monkeys.

They have a prehensile tail, which is like an extra finger that helps them stay balanced while they eat and swing from one branch to another.

Most of the time the howler will walk across the treetops, not jump. Their top speed is 18 MPH. Wouldn’t it be cool to run that fast?

howler monkey swinging through treetops
Swinging through the treetops

Howler Monkey Habitat

The howlers are most commonly found in Central and South America. They prefer the forest, jungle, or large clusters of trees above water. They stay in the treetops and avoid the ground as much as possible, but they will go to the ground when there is a drought and they need a water source.

Howler Monkey Habits

Howler monkeys spend most of their day sleeping in the treetops. They are the loudest land animals in the Western Hemisphere and are famous for how they can disguise their appearance with long black fur, a pink face, and how they howl as if to mimic a wolf.

Howler monkey howling
Can you just hear him howling?

One howler monkey fact is their howl (loud noise) can be heard as far as 3 miles away! Imagine a pack of wolves howling but deeper and louder than a train. Don’t worry if you are hearing this–most of the time they are just warning others that they have stepped into their territory and to leave. 

Howler monkeys howl at different pitch tones to relay different types of messages. Some howls are calling their mates for grooming purposes, another may be to warn off predators. 

Howler monkeys live in groups called “troops” which consist of up to 30 individuals. 

The Howler Monkey's Diet

The howler monkey’s favorite food is fruit. Their diet consists of fruit, leaves, seeds, flowers, and nuts. 

They eat as a group so if the leader of the group eats it first, the rest will follow, sometimes making the mistake of eating a poisonous one or a toxic one and making the entire group sick or dead.

They are omnivores because they have been known to eat an egg or chicken from nearby nests/villages when they are hungry. 


There is no set mating season for the Howler monkey. If there is a spot to make a nest and plenty of food, they will mate. They only have one baby a year and are cared for mainly by their mother. 

Males normally do not mate until they are closer to the top of their social circle, making them much older by the time they have their first baby. 

A female howler can mate at any time, as long as she wants. A pregnancy lasts for six months. She can give birth twice a year. 

Red howler baby
Adorable baby howler monkey

It is up to the mom to raise the howler baby to be able to care for itself on its own. When the baby reaches sexual maturity, it is pushed out of the group to find its own mate. 

Classification/Taxonomy of Howler Monkeys

Here is the Howler Monkey's scientific classification.

Kingdom: Animalia

Phylum: Chordata

Class: Mammalia

Order: Primates

Family: Atelidae

Genus: Alouatta


A howler monkey's lifespan is between 10 and 25 years.

Red Howler Monkey

The red howler monkeys are one of the most common ones you will be able to find and are hunted for bushmeat. These are the biggest howler monkeys.

red howler monkey

Interesting Facts About Howler Monkeys

  1. A slogan for the howler monkey is that they “spend 80% of its time resting!” 
  2. Howler monkeys have trichromatic color vision, just like people!
  3. The Howler only eats the best leaves since they have great vision. Once the best leaves are all gone, they will move on to another section of trees.
  4. If a spider monkey reaches the grove of trees before the howlers they will eat all the fruit off of it before moving on.
  5. A howler monkey has an enlarged hyoid bone in their throat which makes it able to hit such amplified calls.
  6. Howler monkeys rarely fight, but if you hear their bark, it may scare you into thinking they are going to attack.
  7. They have been known to howl for as long as 3 hours straight. 
  8. When an adolescent howler is forced to live on its own, sometimes they stay with their cousins, the spider monkey.
  9. A group of howlers is called a “troop.”
  10. A howler monkey will pee overhead if a human is getting too close to his troop to warn them away.
  11. Howler monkeys prefer warm and humid climates.
  12. One troop of howlers needs a few acres of land.
  13. The howl noise sends a clear message to other monkeys that the area is taken. When one male howler wants to face off with another, he will howl to see how many there are in the area before he challenges him.
  14. Howler monkeys get all the water they need from the fruit they eat.
  15. Howlers use their tails as a fifth limb to grip branches.
  16. The leader of the troop is typically a male howler.
  17. In Belize, the black howler monkeys are actually called baboons, but they aren't related to the African baboon.
  18. The howler monkey is the world’s loudest land animal.
  19. The calls or howls tend to be at sunrise and sunset. They tend to howl when something spooks them or they are warning off others. 
  20. A female howler is normally lighter than the male, but not always.
  21. Yucatan black howler monkey is endangered.
  22. A howl can be as loud as 80 decibels. 
  23. Unlike most monkeys, a howler monkey can actually control their tail with precision. 
  24. A few predators to the howler monkey are: snakes, jaguars, birds, and humans. 
  25. Howlers will link hand to tail from one tree to another to help the younger howlers get across.
  26. The howler monkey will not live long if taken into captivity, therefore while they may be friendly, they stop eating when they are isolated.
  27. Howler monkeys are sometimes kept as pets. Could you imagine waking up to that howling?

  We hope we’ve amazed you with all these howler monkey facts! Do you know some howler monkey facts that we don’t have covered here? Leave us a message below.

Want to read about other mammals? Check out these posts!