Monkey Business – The Barbados Green Monkey

Posted on July 27, 2013
In category About Barbados

Barbados green monkeys can be seen throughout the island. Playful and mischievous, they are fantastic fun to watch.  Their expressions and antics are truly captivating.

We stayed on the west coast of Barbados when visiting the island for the first time in November 1995 – and we have returned many times since then. Late one afternoon, during our first visit, we were relaxing outside in the sunshine with our glasses of rum punch. It was then that we caught a glimpse of a large brownish animal with a long tail. It bounded across the road and over the lawn next door. We thought that we were seeing things and maybe our rum punches were a tad too strong !

We’d had little time to find out anything about the wildlife in Barbados before we left home therefore we had no idea what the animal could be. As we watched, it bounded off in the opposite direction. We noticed that it was clutching a banana in its hand and it was then that we realised it was a monkey! We duly discovered that it was in fact a Barbados green monkey.

Eager to find out more, we researched and discovered that the green monkeys found in Barbados were originally transported from Senegal and the Gambia in west Africa approximately 350 years ago. The monkeys were kept in captivity but many of them escaped or were released. As time passed, the monkeys adapted to their new environment and have evolved to display a different set of characteristics to those in west Africa, therefore they can be legitimately called the Barbados green monkey because you will not find them naturally existing anywhere else in the world.

The Barbados green monkey has a thick coat of fur, which is brownish grey. However, these monkeys also have highlights of yellow and green, making their overall appearance look greenish in colour – hence their name.

You will find these shy but mischievous creatures all across Barbados. They are particularly active in the early morning, late afternoon or early evenings. They spend most of the day on the ground feeding and then sleeping at night in the trees. They must drink each day and are dependent on water.  Because the Barbados green monkey is naturally inquisitive, you will often see them in countryside areas, peering out from in tree canopies, intrigued by any human presence. They are also notoriously cheeky animals, some of them can be very bold indeed so watch out – they have been known to snatch keys, food and other items from outdoor tables if they are left unattended even for a short time.  The chances of getting really close to a monkey are slim; they are naturally shy and wary of humans.  Whilst you can get just close enough to enjoy their antics, it is not wise to approach or try to touch the monkeys or try to ‘tame’ them because they can have a fierce bite.  You can see in the picture below, he has a good set of teeth – is he smiling??

If anyone offers you the opportunity to have a photo taken with a captive monkey – please decline. Monkeys are wild animals and they need to be left with their families in their natural environment.

Many times, since our first encounter, we have seen baby monkeys being carried around by their mothers – clinging to the fur on her stomach and chest, and with her protective arm around the baby. Births are typically of a single youngster and they usually happen during the months when sufficient food is available. The young are weaned at about six months of age and are fully mature in 4 to 5 years. The life expectancy of green monkeys is about 10–12 years in the wild.

During our holidays, we have seen the monkeys in hotel grounds and in the gardens of the privately-owned accommodations where we have stayed – as well as other places such as wooded areas around the island.  If  like us you enjoy nature and wildlife then choosing a rental property with a garden will almost certainly increase your chances of some interesting displays!  You will get a regular visit from our little ‘green friends’ if you stay at Chindwin, The Garden Suite, Retreat House and many more.

A great place to see the green monkeys up close is at The Barbados Wildlife Reserve which is a natural habitat for many animals. All of the buildings in the wildlife reserve are constructed from coral rock, excavated from nearby sugarcane fields and all of the bricks that form its pathways were recycled from sugar factories.  We have thoroughly enjoyed our relaxing strolls along the meandering paths that took us through 4 acres of mahogany forest where the monkeys – and most of the other animals – roam free. We are also pleased to say that the reserve is very much involved in research and conservation.  We were lucky enough to find that, at 2pm, we were in for a treat as the green monkeys were being fed by the staff at the reserve. The monkeys all came bounding, pouncing and swinging through the trees. The females, males, juveniles, mothers and babies settled on the ground, in the shrubs, on low branches and on the picnic tables. They have a very varied diet and we watched them tucking into their food. We took lots of photos as they munched away unperturbed by our presence.

We are sure that, if you love wildlife as we do, you will be enthralled by the Barbados green monkeys too. Come and explore the nature and animals of Barbados, there is so much to see.  Contact Paradise Rentals for more information and for places to stay.

Written by Peter.