Monkeys of the Yucatan

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The Yucatan Peninsula is an area of southeast Mexico composed of the states of Yucatan, Quintana Roo, Campeche and the northern part of Belize. It's home to tall and short tropical jungles containing lots of different wildlife. Two monkeys that live in the area: the Mexican black howler monkey and the Yucatan spider monkey.

Mexican Black Howler Monkey

The Mexican black howler monkey is one of the biggest monkey species in the Americas. On average, it's around 30 inches long -- not including its tail. Males weigh approximately 25 pounds and females around 14 pounds. Its average lifespan in the wild is 20 years. These monkeys usually live in groups of 4 to 11 members, with a fairly equal gender distribution. They're strict herbivores who consume a variety of fruits, plants and leaves.

Yucatan Spider Monkey

The Yucatan spider monkey is a subspecies of the black-handed spider monkey, also known as the Geoffrey spider monkey. They're acrobatic creatures with a prehensile tail, who can travel up to 40 feet in one swing. As such, they're suited to life in the treetops and rarely come down to the ground. They live in groups that can range in size from 10 to more than 100 members. These groups are dominated by female monkeys.

Endangered Status

Sadly, both the Mexican black howler monkey and the Yucatan spider monkey are listed as endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. The Yucatan region was primarily made up of rainforests. However, extensive deforestation has occurred to make space to grow crops or keep livestock. This has meant a big loss of habitat for both species of monkey. In addition, both species have seen dwindling numbers due to hunting, capture for the illegal pet trade, disease and natural disasters.

Range

If you hope to see some of these monkeys on a trip to the Yucatan Peninsula, you'll need to know their habitat and range. Yucatan spider monkeys can be found across most of Campeche. They're also often spotted in the Calakmul and Si'aan K'aan areas and around the Coba ruins. Mexican black howler monkeys can be seen in Belize, Quintana Roo and Campeche, where they're often found at the Mayan ruins of Calakmul.

Photo Credits

  • Anup Shah/Photodisc/Getty Images