Do you know which monkeys eat coconuts? In this blog post, we will explore the world of monkey coconut consumption! We will take a look at which monkeys enjoy this delicious fruit, and where they can be found. Stay tuned for some amazing facts about monkey-coconut relationships!
Because coconuts crow all over the tropical belts near the equator, there should be many monkeys able to eat them as they share habitat, right?
In Thailand, people use pig-tailed macaques to harvest coconuts from palm trees and have done so for centuries! The monkeys are trained to climb the trees and get the coconuts, which are then used for food or sale.
Well, interestingly, not all monkeys enjoy eating coconuts, and have a hard time reaching them! In fact, there are only very few species of monkeys that regularly consume coconuts. Let’s take a look at which monkeys love to eat coconuts!
The most important monkey, when talking about coconuts is the Pig-tailed macaque.
Although the Pig-tailed macaque is omnivorous and eats many types of fruits, as well as insects, it does have a special human-imposed relationship with coconuts.
The Pig-tailed macaque is a species of monkey that can be found in Southeast Asia. Whereas these monkeys are known to enjoy eating coconuts, and they often steal them from people, they are also exploited by coconut-hungry humans…
Male monkeys can collect as many as 1,000 coconuts per day, while female monkeys can pick up to 500.
However, the practice of using enslaved monkeys to pick coconuts is highly controversial, and many people believe it should be stopped ad it is considered exploitation of wildlife.
If you want to make sure not to support this practice, here is a list of companies that do not use monkeys to pick their coconuts.
The Grey Langur
The grey langur is another monkey that enjoys eating coconuts, although more rarely than the Pig-tailed macaque. The grey langur can be found in India, Sri Lanka, and Nepal.
These monkeys are known to climb trees and mostly eat the fruity skin covering the coconut but may also eat the meat inside the coconut. However, they mostly eat other types of fruits and plants.
They have a hard time opening the coconuts so they tend not to eat them as often as the Pig-tailed macaque, but if a ripe coconut drops to the ground and the flesh gets opened enough for the langur to access it with its sharp canine teeth, it does eat most of the fruit.
The grey langur is a critically endangered species, and there are only about 12,000 left in the world.
Do Howler Monkeys Eat Coconuts?
No, howler monkeys generally only eat leaves and fruits from trees and do not eat coconuts.
It is not unthinkable, that a howler monkey, like the Guatemalan Black Howler Monkey or the Colombian Red Howler monkey could eat a coconut if properly prepared for it, and it could likely eat the fibrous fruit as well because its stomach contains the bacteria need to digest it, but I have not seen any reports of howler monkeys eating coconut in the wild.
Do Spider Monkeys Eat Coconuts?
No, spider monkeys eat a varied diet that includes many types of fruits, but they do not eat coconuts.
They simply prefer to eat smaller things like fruits, insects, flowers, seeds etc. If you are more interested in what the spider monkey and other rain forest monkeys eat, I did write a whole post on the diet of rainforest monkeys!
What other monkeys have been observed to eat coconuts?
A few other species will occasionally eat coconuts or part of the fruit, for example, the Zanzibar red colobus monkey (P. kirkii) is seen eating the husk of coconut in the photo by Katarzyna Nowak below.
And although strictly not a monkey, but still a primate, Aye-aye monkey is also known to eat coconuts, and the video below shows you how:
How Do Monkeys Eat Coconuts?
The few species of monkeys that regularly consume coconuts, including the Pig-tailed macaque and the grey langur, mostly eat coconuts by pealing off their thick fibrous outer fruit of coconuts that have already fallen to the ground.
And they may even also break them off from trees to make the coconut fall to the ground and hope for them to open up and become more accessible for the monkeys to eat.
Watch the video above to see how the Aye-aye monkey goes about it!
If a monkey is lucky enough to find a coconut with some meat still in it, they will use their sharp teeth to break open the coconut even more or slam it in the ground to crack the nut open, but this rarely succeeds.
Monkeys definitely eat coconuts, but it is not a food that all monkeys enjoy or can easily access.