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What Do Monkeys Eat?

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Monkeys are mammals and they have a diet that will depend on where they are living in the world. Some are jungle dwellers while others live closer to human habitation. Each species may have different nutritional needs. For example Geoffroy’s marmoset will have a diet different from a rhesus macaque. It can also depend on the classification of which part of the world that they are in. Right now, two different classifications exist: Old World and New World monkeys. The Old World monkeys are closer to primates than New World monkeys, so their diet will be different.

Rhesus MacaqueRhesus macaque (Macaca mulatta) is an Old World monkey. Photo by Yann (Wikimedia).

Wild monkeys

Wild monkeys will eat a variety of foods. They eat fruits, leaves, gums and sometimes other monkeys. Insects are also a part of their diet in the wild. Sometimes they will eat blossoms and leafy things to supplement their diet. Ants and termites are a favorite snack of monkeys.

Geoffroy's MarmosetGeoffroy’s marmoset (Callithrix geoffroyi) is a New World monkey. Photo by Tony Hisgett.

Tame monkeys

A tame monkey on the other hand will eat a bit different of a diet. Those in captivity will have a diet of commercially available monkey biscuits. This food can be supplemented with vegetables and fruit making a well rounded diet for those that are kept as pets.

Wild monkeys and humans

When it comes to food and humans, those living near human habitation can steal what they want to eat. They will eat fruits and vegetables, as well as other items such as tree leaves and flowers. There have been many clashes between monkey and human as their habitat shrinks due to human encroachment.
Tame monkeys and humans

Captive or tame monkeys still have the same dietary needs as stated above. They are dependent on their human keepers to keep them fed. They too eat insects and bugs, as well as vegetables and fruit. Some monkeys, like chimpanzees, can eat other monkeys, especially in the wild. Taking care of a tame or captive monkey requires that you know about the dietary habits of the species that is being taken care of.

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