Mammals of Makengue


These monkeys can be seen nearly every day at Makengue moving through the tops of trees. The hang by their tails and make daring leaps from one tree to another. Their groups wander through the forest and are spotted along the river. They also can walk on two legs along the branches, keeping track of each other with barks and whinnies. At dusk, they cross by the house on their way to bedding down for the night.

Photo Credit: Aspen Russell


Mantled Howlers can be heard from long distances with their incessant early morning barking that echos through the forest. Often they can be seen sleeping in the trees just across the small Pocosolito River from the Makengue cabins. Howler groups call to each other from long distances. The have beards and expressive faces. Males and females are all reddish black, but males have white scrotum. Like other new world monkeys, they prehensile tails.

Photo Credit: Aspen Russell

Cebus Capucinus

These capuchins are regularly spotted at Makengue. They are interested in people, making faces at us, and sometimes they seem to be scolding us. They live from 30-44 years old. They are playful and curious. White-faced capuchins are known to spend time in social bonding and establishing trust with each other. One example is hand-sniffing, where one monkey will stick his/her fingers in the other monkey’s nose and then other monkey repeats the activity. This can last for several minutes and is done with a trance-like expression. They may also suck on each other’s fingers and tails for long periods of time.

Photo Credit: Aspen Russell


Their tracks can regularly be spotted on the trails across the Makengue property and they have been known to eat the green mandarin oranges off the small trees in back of the house. On rare occasions, Baird’s tapirs have been viewed at Makengue in daylight. Twice they were filmed on a trail camera. The size of small donkeys, they are the largest native mammals in the Neotropics. With strong muscles and long snout, their fur is bristly. For one to two years, both parents help raising the spotted young ones who stay with their parents. The mother guides the baby by prodding them with her long snout.

Potos flavus

Kinkajous are small nocturnal animals and were spotted high in a tree on several occasions, during a night hike at Makengue. Kinkajous are particularly well known for hanging upside-down while feeding, using their prehensile tails and hind legs for support while holding small fruits in a one-hand with nimble clawed fingers. They have fully reversible hind feet. Originally, kinkajous were thought to be a solitary species, but behavioral studies have revealed complex social interactions and an unusual mating system. Kinkajous exhibit both a polygamous and polyandrous mating system. Two males, a single female, and offspring often comprise a typical social group.

Photo Credit: Aspen Russell


Sloth bodies are covered with dense, long, shaggy fur. With hairs that contain algal cells that give the coat a greenish cast. The forearms of three-toed sloths are longer than the hind limbs. Usually, viewed alone, three-toed sloths are solitary and arboreal and sleep up to 18 hours a night. They are strong swimmers, but high in the trees where they live, their movements are extremely slow. One possible explanation for their slow style of moving is as a defense against hawks and eagles. Living almost entirely on leaves, sloths come down to the ground only once a week to defecate. They are also preyed upon by boas. Their body temperature and metabolic rate are unusually low, and they thermoregulate partly by sunning.

Photo Credit: Aspen Russell