Exactly what do monkeys eat? A high percentage of people will automatically associate monkeys with bananas and although they do love fruit, this is not their entire food source.
Monkeys are part of the primate family and exploit extremely diverse food selections. They portray characteristics of early primates that practiced getting most of their food out of the tropical canopy. The reason monkeys love fruit in their diet is because they can easily digest it and use the lipids and carbohydrates for energy. They do, however require a bit more food in their diet other than fruit.
Leaves and insects are eaten by monkeys for them to acquire vitamins, minerals and amino acids. Monkeys are equipped with anatomical specializations allowing them to consume foods that may be difficult for other animals to digest. Some monkeys feed on gum and they have very strong teeth that enable them to open up the tree bark in order to get the gum out. Also, their sharp claws help them to cling to a tree while they are eating.
To answer the question of, “What do monkeys eat?” you need to also understand that there are an abundance of species and some have specific diets that they enjoy. For example, the Capuchin monkey does love fruit and insects but also enjoys flowers, nectar, invertebrates, seeds, birds, lizards, bats, squirrels and eggs.
There are more than 130 monkey species found around the world. These species break down into two categories being New World and Old World. New World monkeys are American where Old World monkeys are found in Asia and Africa. American monkeys have longer tails that are more suited for holding onto branches and the monkeys found in Africa and Asia have small, straight tails.
Regardless of where the monkeys live, their food palette always consists of fruit, leaves and insects. All monkeys have a general characteristic of eating on the move. They will usually consume their food while they are climbing or hanging and they eat whatever they have obtained in one sitting rather than storing it anywhere for later.
Monkeys that are kept in a zoo have a much different diet than those that live in the world. Zoos only offer a controlled environment for the monkeys and therefore do not give the animal the freedom to feed as they naturally would. Monkeys in the zoo are often fed bananas, raisins, celery, bread, lettuce, oranges, apples and monkey chow, which is along the same line as kibble for dogs.
Monkeys that are in the wild have the opportunity to feed on a variety of foods, depending a lot on where they live. Species that have the privilege of dwelling in a tropical rainforest have access to thousands of different plant species and fruit bearing trees that a monkey kept in captivity does not. These animals adore the rainforest due to the high amount of precipitation they receive. More rain always equals more food.
All monkeys no matter where thy live, use their feet and hands to hold onto branches and those that have a long tail can hold on with that too. These particular tails are called prehensile and come in handy for feeding time. They are flexible and ridged on the bottom and are ideal for the monkey to hang from a branch by freeing up the monkey's hands to gather food.
Habitat loss is the biggest threat to the monkey. It is easy to help protect the monkey by not purchasing items coming from the rainforest unless they are certified. Recycling always helps as well since it reduces resources that are taken from the earth.