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Friday 03 July 2015 Guatemalan Black Howler Monkey

Guatemalan Black Howler MonkeyThe endangered Guatemalan Black Howler (Alouatta pigra) (sometimes called the Yucatan Howler or Yucatan Black Howler) is one of many species of howler monkey, which is what is known as a ‘New World’ monkey. Its range is throughout the Yucatan Peninsula, and includes the areas of Mexico, Belize, and of course Guatemala. The Guatemalan Black Howler prefers to live in very lush areas, mostly sticking to all types of rain forests such as the semi-deciduous, lowland and evergreen. Of its cousins and relatives, the Guatemalan Black Howler is the largest, and is also one of the largest ‘New World’ monkeys (which include marmosets, owl monkeys, sakis, spider, and woolly monkeys). It weighs in at 25 lbs on average in males (11-12 kg) and 14 lbs for the females (6-7 kg). Their fur is usually black and their tails are very long, and prehensile (meaning it can grab and be used to hang from branches with). They also have specialized teeth for their diet of mostly leaves, along with the males possessing a larger hyoid bone located near the vocal chords, which enables their loud calls.

The Guatemalan Black is a diurnal howler, which means it is active during the day and it sleeps at night, as well as being arboreal, meaning it dwells in the trees most of its life. They are a social species that lives in groups up to ten members strong, which helps in alerting, foraging, and general upkeep through grooming. Some groups can be as large as sixteen, while larger groups are plausible, however at these sizes it is unlikely to function as well as a smaller group. Their diets consist of mostly leaves, and fruits, however they will snack on a flower here and there and their favorite tree of all is the breadnut, which provides most food during some seasons.

Not a particularly active species, the Guatemalan Black Howler would rather lounge about during the day; eating takes up a quarter of the day while moving locations for eating consists of only about a tenth of their daily activity. The rest of the day is devoted to socializing and grooming, with some other random antics. Females are old enough to have offspring by four years of age, while males may take up to eight years to reach maturity, and their total life-spans are an average of twenty years.

The Guatemalan Black Howler’s binomial name (its species and genus) is Alouatta pigra, the Alouatta’s as a genus make up most of the Howler Monkeys, which are the largest of the New World Monkeys with but a few possible exceptions. Alouatta is home to all of the howler monkeys (ten species and ten subspecies), and belongs to the subfamily Alouattinae. Alouattinae belongs to the family Atelidae which is one of the four families of New World Monkeys; this includes the howler monkeys, along with spider monkeys, woolly monkeys, wooly spider monkeys, and Yellow-tailed Woolly Monkeys. Atelidae belongs to the Parvorder Platyrrhini, which contains all New World Monkeys, and includes Marmosets and Muriquis. Platyrrhini belongs to the infraorder Simiiformes, or ‘higher primates’, and this includes all New World and Old World monkeys from South America and Africa, and includes gibbons, great apes, and the family Hominidae of which we are members. Simiiformes belongs to the Suborder Haplorrhini, otherwise called dry-nosed primates; this includes all of the higher primates as well as Tarsiers. Haplorrhini belongs to the Order Primates, which is all related apes, monkeys, lorids, galagos, lemurs and human ancestors. Primates are in the class of Mammalia of the phylum Chordata in the Kingdom of Animalia.

Fact


The Guatemalan Black Howler is sympatric with another species, the Mantled Howler. Sympatric means that they share the same niche and territory, and encounter each other in the wild, they are also closely related.

Warning


The Guatemalan Black Howler is an Endangered Species, and is close to being classified as Critically Endangered if nothing is done to curb the loss of the species. In the next 30 years the IUCN expects to see a population loss of over 60%, making this species on the more endangered alive today. Major threats are habitat loss, poaching, and capture for use as ‘pets’. You can help spreading the word about this animal by liking it on facebook

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Thursday 11 June 2015 Brown Capuchin - The Little Monk Monkey

Brown capuchinThe brown capuchin (Cebus apella) is a clever, little monkey whose range includes a number of South American countries, including Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, Brazil, Venezuela, Suriname, Argentina, Guyana, Paraguay and French Guiana, Guyana. Brown capuchins adapt well to a variety of habitats and can be found in the understory and the middle and lower canopy of savannah forests, subtropical and tropical rainforests, as well as mangroves.

The brown capuchin monkey, which is also known as the black-capped capuchin and tufted capuchin, has a distinctive cap of black or dark brown fur on top of its head. It also typically has dark sideburns, black tufts of fur above its ears, and dark-colored feet and hands. The monkey's main coloring is a light brown to black, while its stomach and shoulders are a lighter color that the rest of its body. It has a long, dark prehensile tail, which it carries in a tight coil. The monkey's dark cap is said to resemble the cowls worn by the Capuchin monks for whom it is reportedly named.

Brown capuchins are small monkeys, typically weighing about 2.64 kg or a little under 6 pounds. Its total body and head length is about 444 mm or about 17.5 inches. Female brown capuchins are usually smaller in size. The tail is about the same length as its body.

These little primates are omnivores, which means that they will devour a large variety of items, including fruits, nuts, vegetation, insects, eggs, as well as small vertebrates such as frogs and small mammals. Brown capuchins that live near the water will also eat shells and crabs, and they have been observed using tools such as stones to crack apart these hard-to-open items.

Brown capuchins are arboreal, meaning they live, hunt and sleep primarily in trees. This primate is a territorial animal that live in groups of approximately 18 animals that is led by a dominant male. Juvenile males can stay with their troop until they reach sexual maturity, at which time, they will leave to find a new group in which to live. Female brown capuchins normally stay with their family group.

Cebus apella does not appear to have a set breeding season and are also polygamous, with females at times mating with more than one male. Brown capuchin females usually give birth to one baby, although they do occasionally have twins.

The main predators of brown capuchins are large birds of prey. Humans, however, are an even bigger threat to the monkey, as they not only hunt it for food, but also capture large numbers to sell as pets. In addition, because brown capuchins are very smart, they are often trained for use in movies and television shows. The monkey in the popular "Night at the Museum" movies was a brown capuchin. Habitat degradation and loss is another threat to the brown capuchin’s population

Luckily, the brown capuchin is still quite common and widespread in the wild, and it is currently listed as a species of Least Concern on the IUCN’s Red List.

Picture of the brown capuchin by Frans de Waal, licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 Generic license. You can help spreading the word about this animal by liking it on facebook

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Tuesday 19 May 2015 Chinchilla - Magnificent Fur Blessing and Curse

ChinchillaIn the unforgiving, wind-swept Andes Mountains of South America, a fur coat so thick that it repels water is a blessing. Long-tailed chinchillas (Chinchilla lanigera) are blessed with such a plush coat. But that same coat is the cause of their critically endangered status in the wild. They have been hunted so ruthlessly for their fur that they are nearly extinct in the wild. Fortunately, they survive well in captivity and make excellent pets.

General Appearance

Long-tailed chinchillas, also called Chilean chinchillas or “chins” by pet owners, are rodents more closely related to guinea pigs than to mice. Their foot long (30.48 cm) bodies are very round with comparatively tiny feet and a long, silky tail an additional 5 to 6 inches (12.7 to 15.2 cm) long. Their heads are more rabbit-like than guinea pig-like with pleasantly prominent ears that are rounded at the tips. Despite their chubby appearance, the largest chins only weigh 2 pounds (0.91 kg.)

Wild chinchillas sport the same color of fur – a silver grey with pale bellies. But domesticated chinchillas come in a variety of colors, including albino, white (with dark eyes) beige, shades of black and a brown-grey shade called lavender. Chinchillas must bathe in dust because the coat takes such a long time to dry that the animal could catch pneumonia. In the Andes Mountains, rain is rare and so the animals evolved to not rely on it.

Behavior

In the wild, chinchillas live in small colonies and eat grass, lichens, seeds and occasionally dead insects. Like any other rodent, chinchilla’s front teeth grow continuously throughout their lives in order to accommodate for their hard diet. In captivity, chinchillas need to eat hard foods and be given chew toys so their teeth do not grow too long.

After a gestation of around 112 days, chinchilla babies are born fully furred with their eyes open and their teeth grown in. They can soon walk after birth and follow after their parents. Both parents help in their care, but the mother winds up doing most of the work. Babies are weaned when they are two months old. They become sexually mature by the time they are eight months old. Living in small colonies means that there are many eyes working together to look out for predators. The chinchilla’s main form of defense is their speed. Despite their comical appearances, chinchillas can sprint in amazingly quick bursts of speed. They rarely run in a straight line but zig-zag and leap to out-maneuver natural predators such as birds of prey.

The Chinchilla Today

Long-tailed chinchillas are one of the rarest mammals to be found in the Andean mountains. Hunting them became outlawed by 1918, although poaching does occur. In the early 1900s, 12 chinchillas, nine males and three females, were brought to the United States by an ex-miner named Matthias F. Chapman. All pet chinchillas in North America are descended from 11 of these 12. One chinchilla turned out to be too old to breed. There are chinchilla farms in many countries of the world where these gentle, friendly animals are killed for their pelts.

Chinchillas are remarkably long-lived for rodents. Those in captivity have lived as long as 20 years, although the world record holder lived a whopping 26 years. In the wild, their lifespans are considerably shorter but animals living to 15 have been recorded. You can help spreading the word about this animal by liking it on facebook

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