The golden snub-nosed monkey, also known as the snub-nosed leaf monkey, the orange monkey and the Sichuan golden-haired monkey, is a small monkey that can only be found in the mountains of central and southwest China, including the mountains of Tibet. It ranges from 20 to 26 inches long and can live for over 20 years.
Below are some interesting facts about the golden snub-nosed monkey.
Welcome to the Old World
The golden snub-nosed monkey is an Old World monkey. What does this mean? This means that like other Old World monkeys, the golden snub-nosed monkey has nostrils that are close together like ours, hands like ours with fingernails and thick pads of skin around their tails that serve as a cushion when they are sitting. They also have long tails but their tails are not prehensile like those of New World monkeys, meaning they cannot use their tails to grasp objects or hang from tree branches.
The Snub-Nosed Family
The golden snub-nosed monkey isn’t the only snub-nosed monkey. There’s also the black or Yunnan snub-nosed monkey, the gray or Guizhou snub-nosed monkey, the Tonkin snub-nosed monkey and the Myanmar snub-nosed monkey. The black and gray snub-nosed monkeys can also be found in China, while the Tonkin snub-nosed monkey can be found in northern Vietnam and the Myanmar snub-nosed monkey can be found in northern Myanmar. As their name implies, they all have short noses that look like stumps.
Why do snub-nosed monkeys have such short noses? You might wonder. Well, it’s because they live in cold forests high up in the mountains. In such a cold place, a long nose would be difficult to keep warm. It might even get frost-bitten.
Another adaptation snub-nosed monkeys have to the cold is their thick, long fur. It covers every bit of them except their eyes, noses and mouths. In fact, if you look at their hands, they seem like they’re wearing mittens.
Female golden snub-nosed monkeys give birth to just one infant each year, particularly from March to June. The infant is born gray, not golden, and remains that way for three months. During this time, it also stays with its mother or the other females in the group who help take care of it. Like with other Old World monkeys, Daddy isn’t involved in babysitting. By five months old, the infant starts to eat solid food but is nursed until it is about 20 months old.
So when does the golden snub-nosed monkey turn gold? The answer: Not right away. At three months, the infant turns light brown, almost white when under the sun. At a year old, they turn dark brown then gradually become reddish gold as the years pass, up until they reach adulthood. Adult males are a brighter gold than females and have longer hair. They are also larger than females and have long front teeth.
Up In the Trees
In the wild, golden snub-nosed monkeys spend most of their time up in the trees where they sleep, feed and socialize. In captivity, however, they have been observed spending more time on the ground.
Up in the trees, they usually travel on branches on all fours, although they also do a lot of jumping from tree to tree and occasionally swing from their arms on the branches. They spend most of the day traveling or feeding, resting at noon and sleeping during the night.
Changing Diet With The Seasons
What do golden snub-nosed monkeys eat? The answer depends on the season. In winter, golden snub-nosed monkeys eat mostly the bark of trees. In spring, they eat seeds, buds and leaves. In summer, they eat leaves and insects and in fall, they eat fruits. There is, however, one type of food available all year that the golden snub-nosed monkeys like to eat – lichen, which is what grows on trees when fungi and algae combine.
Living With The Band
Most monkeys live in groups and the golden snub-nosed monkey is no different. It lives in units that consist of one male and several females. Often, units combine to form bands. And sometimes, bands combine to form troops, which consist of hundreds of monkeys. Together, they help each other find food and protect each other from predators, which include wolves, wild dogs, wild cats, leopards, foxes, tigers and the golden eagle. Males, in particular are in charge of keeping everyone safe and gather around the females and the young when a threat is present, sometimes fighting to the death. Females, on the other hand, help each other take care of the young. Sometimes, when resting, males and females groom each other to strengthen the bonds between them.
A ventriloquist is a stage performer with a dummy or puppet who can speak without moving his lips too much, making it seem like the dummy is the one talking. Golden snub-nosed monkeys are the same. They can make sounds and communicate without any sign they are doing so, which is possible because of their large nostrils.
Golden snub-nosed monkeys have five basic types of calls – greeting calls, amazement calls that are made when they encounter other animals, peaceful calls, warning calls and of course, alarm calls, which also come in different types.
Aside from communicating using sounds, golden snub-nosed monkeys communicate through facial expressions and gestures, such as crouching to show submission or opening the mouth to encourage vocal communication.
Here’s an interesting fact for you – the fur of the golden snub-nosed monkey was once believed to have medicinal properties. In particular, it was considered a cure for rheumatism and could prevent a person from getting it. Because of this, the rich and the government officials used to wear clothes made of golden snub-nosed monkey fur.
Sadly, the hunting of golden snub-nosed monkeys for their fur is one of the reasons why they are currently endangered, with less than 2,000 of them believed to remain in the wild. Other reasons include the destruction of forests, the harvesting of dead trees which provide the most lichen and hunting of the monkeys for meat, although laws have already been put in place to prevent these. We can only hope that they will succeed in saving this rare and beautiful monkey.
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