Where do lion-tailed macaques live?
- These unique looking monkeys live in the southwestern part of India. Their habitat consist of mostly tropical rain forest where they spend most of their time up in the tree tops away from predators. They need to look for food throughout all of the different levels of forest, so they are always going up and down the trees. They are also known to come down from the trees to play and splash around in the water on hot, humid days. When night rolls around, they climb back up high in the trees to sleep and hide themselves among the branches and leaves.
What do they look like?
- It’s not hard to tell these guys apart from other monkeys. They get their name from the bushy lion-like mane on their heads and tails. They have black coats with a lighter mane around their head, usually white or gray in color. Their tails have a white or gray tuft at the end of it. The babies, however, do not have the lush mane that their parents do. The mane will start to come in at about 2 months when they begin to lose their natal coat and look more like mom or dad.
- They are sexually dimorphic which means that the males and females look different. In the lion-tailed macaques the difference is in their size. Males are about 51-61cm (20-24 in) long and females are about 46- 50cm (18-20 in). Males weigh about 20-25 pounds (9-11 kg), where females are 15-18 pounds (7-8 kg).
What do they eat?
- One of their favorite foods is fruit! Fruit is one of the most valuable food sources in the forest due. Due to high competition and seasonal limitations, it is necessary for them to eat other foods as well. Lion-tailed macaques’ “fall back foods” are nuts and insects.
- Lion-tailed macaques have a fun way of storing food: they are able to put food in what’s called cheek pouches. It is an area inside of their cheeks that extends and allows them to fit and store various foods. It’s an adaption that permits them to get in and out of an area very quickly. When they find a food source, they stuff as much as they can in their food pouches and then run off to a safe spot to enjoy their meal.
What is their social life like?
- Lion-tailed macaques live in social groups of about 17-20 individuals. There is one dominant male with a group of females that are usually related. After they reach sexual maturity, males leave to find other groups that they can then live with.
- A big part of these monkeys’ social interactions involve vocalizations. They create many different sounds to communicate with other moneys. They also use facial expressions that can express friendship and also to tell others to watch out or they will get in trouble!
- These unique one-of-a-kind monkeys are on the Endangered Species list. Many natives hunt these animals and they are also sold in the illegal pet trade. Their biggest threat is the logging companies that are taking away their homes. Lion tailed macaques need a lot of area in order to forage and feed everyone in the group. If their land and food source is being taken away they will not be able to survive and produce off spring. Their numbers are continuing to decline!
- What can you do? Reduce, Reuse, Recycle! Also inform others and spread the word that these monkeys and many other primates are endanger and they need our help!
Video courtesy of ARKive.org
Written by Heidi G, March 2016