Monkey habitat is identified across Asia, Africa and Central and South America. The species are rarely seen in the wild in Australia, North America or Antarctica. The mammals show a distinct preference for the tropical rainforests. A few are also sighted in mountainous regions, plains and grasslands. Depending on the terrain of their natural habitat, monkeys live in trees or on the ground. In the ecology of the rainforest, the species plays a very vital role in dispersion of seed. Most monkeys avoid wetlands, but are good swimmers. New World Monkeys mostly inhabit Central and South America, while their Old World counterparts are a common sight on the terrains of Asia and Africa.
Most of the monkeys that spend their lives in trees have a prehensile tail that acts as an extra limb, as seen in the case of spider, howler, and owl monkeys. The Saki monkeys, that inhabit the mountainous terrains of South America, have coarse fur, an adaptation that enables the mammal to remain dry during the frequent rain spells in the region. The Amazon rainforest is a perfect monkey habitat. Due to its wet and very hot climatic conditions, the Woolly monkeys that inhabit the region and that along the Amazon basin and mountain ranges of Peru, live high up in the tree canopies. The Asian and African Old World monkeys enjoy more varied habitats. They are both arboreal and terrestrial. Occasionally, these species reside in cooler climates, monkeys found in China and Japan, are prime examples but not common. Humans are the biggest threat to the species. Encroachment along forest fringes, indiscriminate logging and hunting the mammals for meat are taking a toll on monkey habitat and extant numbers.
- The Howler Monkey howls at dawn and dusk every day. Its howl can be heard as far as three miles away from its habitat! It is recognized as the loudest animal in the world.
- Monkeys can survive more than forty years in captivity.
- These primates can weigh from four ounces to over a hundred pounds.
- Monkeys are confirmed carriers of viruses that trigger the onset of tuberculosis, hepatitis, and simian herpes B.
- The Squirrel monkey of South America grows to a full length of only ten inches!
- The baboon is the largest extant monkey, while the owl monkey is the only nocturnal relative.
- Monkeys usually have only one baby at a time and live in groups called troops, which may number up to several hundred. The average lifespan of monkeys vary from 15 to 45 years according to their species.
Different sub-species of monkey are domesticated to serve as pets, model laboratory specimens and even on space missions. Albert II, was the first monkey in space, aboard the V-2 rocket launched in 1949. In many countries, these primates are trained to serve as service-animals for the disabled. These Capuchin monkey helpers are trained to assist quadriplegic and people with impaired mobility. Macaques and the African Green Monkeys are used extensively in animal testing facilities due to their physical and psychological similarity to humans.