sustainable travel

Where Can I See Howler Monkeys, Sloths & Marmosets?

Tree-Dwelling Animals of the Amazon Rainforest

Dwelling in the treetops of the Amazon Basin is a completely separate ecosystem compared to the forest floor. Arboreal animals make their habitat in the trees, and have evolved to find their source of food, community and protection among the leaves. There, birds, mammals, primates and insects coexist in an exotic community. This includes new world monkeys, descending from African monkeys 40 million years ago. Loud howler monkeys, slow moving sloths and tiny marmosets are just a few of the arboreal creatures that can be seen in Ecuador’s Amazon Rainforest.

Howler Monkeys

Howler Monkeys, Sloths & Marmosets

Howler Monkeys Doing What They Do

The first distinctive trait of this species is their LOUD vocal calls. The noise, especially in groups, can be heard up to 3 miles (5km) away, announcing their territory to outsiders. Their appearance when howling is intense, as they lean forward to intimidate their target. Physically, howler monkeys have a commanding presence as well. Their long tail can be 1-5 times their body length, which they use as a tool to grip branches.  Building nests in the canopy and feeding mainly on leaves, they rarely come down to the forest floor. Besides, if all of your friends and food are in one place, why would you want to leave?!

Howler Monkeys, Sloths & Marmosets

Sloth Hanging in the Trees

Sloths

Named after one of the seven deadly sins in English, their name for many Amazonian tribes, Ritto, Rit, Ridette can mean sleep, eat and dirty. Such descriptive names call out quite a few traits of this slow-moving animal. However, each of these names has an opposite benefit that helps them survive in the treetops. Though slow moving, their strength needed to cling upside down from trees is an often-forgotten trait. Similarly, their “lazy,” “sleepy” movements are really just a way to conserve energy. And their fur, though seemingly dirty, is an important habitat for smaller insects and organisms. This distinctive animal is popular among humans because of their multi-dimensional characteristics. Plus, they always seem to be wearing a smile.

Marmosets

Howler Monkeys, Sloths & Marmosets

A Nimble Marmoset

The world’s smallest monkey, marmosets are distinctive because of their tiny body and long tail. They’re so tiny that many pictures show them being held by a human hand for size. Living in the upper forest canopy, their active movements are quick and jerky as they move from tree to tree.  Their social structure is cooperative within the family group, as they share care of children and food resources. These curious primates even have a cameo in Shakespeare’s Tempest:

“And I with my long nails will dig thee pignuts,

Show thee a jay’s nest, and instruct thee how

To snare the nimble marmoset. I’ll bring thee

To clustering filberts, and sometimes I’ll get thee

Young scamels from the rock. Wilt thou go with me?”

 

Wilt Thou Go (to the Amazon) With Us?

On Gondwana’s Amazon Awakening tour, guests have the opportunity to go on several hikes in the Amazon Basin with local trained naturalists. Having these guides gives great insight to the rainforest’s biodiversity, both on the canopy and the forest floor. Seeing these exotic arboreal creatures will be an otherworldly experience.