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Alouatta palliata | Mantled Howler


Good spot: Many



Taxonomy & Occurrence

Golden Mantled Howler (A. p. palliata) -- Costa Rica, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua


Ecuadorian Mantled Howler (A. p. aequatorialis) -- Colombia, Ecuador, Panama, Peru


Coiba Island Howler (A. p. coibensis) -- Coiba Island and neighbouring Jicarón, Panama


Mexican Howler (A. p. mexicana) -- Guatemala, Mexico


Azuero Howler (A. p. trabeata) -- Azuero Peninsula, Panama


IUCN Conservation Status

Least Concern


Like many New World primates, howlers have strong prehensile tails which serve as a fifth limb. Among the largest of New World monkeys, they are also unique in that their diet includes a large proportion of hard-to-digest, low quality mature leaves. Consequently, substantial time is spent doing nothing.


While trichromacy is the norm for all Old World monkeys, apes, and humans, in most species of New World primates, males are dichromats and about 60% of females are trichromats. Only the Alouatta is trichromatic for both sexes [1].



An infant howler being vigilant

© Adam Hermans

Tortuguero National Park, Costa Rica


One howls while the other sleeps

© Adam Hermans

Rincón de la Vieja, Costa Rica


Seeing this Species


Howlers owe their name to their powerful "howling" calls. Hearing howlers howl is one of those special moments for the primate watcher, as wonderful as the gibbons' (Hoolock, HylobatesNomascus, Symphalangus) duets and the song of the Indri. The sound can best be described as prehistoric. It sounds more dinosaur than monkey. Widely considered to be the loudest land animal, their vocalizations can be heard clearly for 4.8 km according to the Guinness Book of World Records. So, even if you hear them, they may still be a few kilometers away. If you're lucky, you may get to catch them in the act: head back, throat pouch inflated. They shake and roar like the most excited dog, howling after a passing ambulance.


Howlers occur across Central and South America. I saw them everywhere from steamy, swampy lowland forest (Corcovado) to arid volcano slopes (Rincón), from city parks (Parque Metropolitano) to remote, misty mountains (Santa Elena). I even saw them feeding above a busy roadside while awaiting the bus.


Probability of Success: ◆ ◆ ◆ ◆ ◆


Tortuguero National Park, Limon Province, Costa Rica -- See page on Central American Spider Monkey

Overlapping species: White-throated Capuchin, Central American Spider Monkey



Rincón de la Vieja, Guanacaste Province, Costa Rica -- See page on White-throated Capuchin 

Overlapping species: White-throated Capuchin, Central American Spider Monkey



Corcovado National Park, Osa Peninsula, Costa Rica -- See page on Central American Squirrel Monkey

Overlapping species: Central American Squirrel Monkey, White-Throated Capuchin, Central American Spider Monkey



Santa Elena Reserve, Costa Rica

A group was seen at the entrance, but no more sighting for the next 4 hours. There are five trails and an observation tower.

Overlapping species: Central American Spider Monkey



Monteverde Cloud Forest, Costa Rica

No sighting. But here's a map.

Overlapping species: Central American Spider Monkey



Metropolitan Park, Panama City, Panama -- See the page on Geoffroy's Tamarin

Overlapping species: White-throated Capuchin



Local contacts


Eating the tree bared

© Adam Hermans

Tortuguero National Park, Costa Rica


A lazy afternoon

© Adam Hermans

Corcovado National Park, Costa Rica



[1]  Jacobs G.H., Neitz M., Deegan J.F. and Neitz J. 1996. Trichromatic colour vision in New World monkeys. Nature 382: 156-158.


Page Last Updated: 3 June 2015

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