Dusky titi monkeys (Callicebus moloch) are found in tropical forest habitats at up to 1000 meters above sea level. In Tambopata National Reserve, together with the saddleback tamarin monkey (Saguinus fuscicollis), squirrel monkey (Saimiri sciureus boliviensis), and brown capuchin monkey (Cebus apella), dusky titi monkeys are among the most commonly sighted species of primate. As a group, titi monkeys are widely distributed across South America, and they are found in Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Paraguay, and Peru.
Because dusky titi monkeys tend to forage among the rainforest understory, often close to riverbanks and wetland areas, rather than venturing up into the high canopy, they are among the easiest to spot of all New World monkey species. They are mostly active by day, when they spend their time among tree branches foraging for leaves and fruit, although as omnivores they will also feed on insects, spiders, small birds, and birds’ eggs. Dusky titi monkeys tend to be less active than many of their New World monkey cousins; however, because much of their preferred forest understory habitat is discontinuous, dusky titi monkeys can often be seen leaping short distances between tree branches. In addition to leaping, they will use all four limbs to walk, climb and clamber through the rainforest.
About the size of a rabbit or squirrel, the dusky titi monkey grows to between 25 and 40 centimeters in length, not including its tail, which is not prehensile. Their face is flat, while their head is round. Their fur is mostly brown, although the underparts can be a more reddish-brown, recalling the coloring of the howler monkeys also seen in Tambopata National Reserve. Dusky titi monkeys are not sexually dimorphic, meaning that males and females do not differ in their external physical characteristics. Both sexes are known to live for more than 25 years in the wild.
Another trait dusky titi monkeys share with the red howler monkeys of this part of southeastern Peru’s tropical forests is a distinctive call. They are highly territorial, and will send out their calls regularly as a way of defining their small territory and discouraging the presence of other dusky titi monkey troops. Once your naturalist guide has pointed out the call of the dusky titi monkey, you’ll find that you hear it almost constantly as you explore forest trails, and even during the time you spend relaxing at our Ecolodge (*).
Dusky titi monkeys are a monogamous primate species, and mating pairs will remain together for life. Rather than forming the hierarchical troops common to many other species of monkey, they live in much smaller groups composed of an adult mating pair and their offspring. When you do spot dusky titi monkeys in the rainforest understory, you will almost always find yourself observing an entire family. Primatologists believe that the high degree of coordination seen in the activities of mating pairs is an indication of their very close emotional bond.
Dusky titi monkeys tend to be extremely wary in the presence of humans. Their main predators are raptors, including the harpy eagle, and reports have also been received of capuchin monkeys killing and devouring young dusky titi monkeys.
*Listen to the dusky titi monkey’s unique call here: https://www.soundrangers.com/index.cfm/product/52608_830/titi-monkey-calls-03.cfm