August 29, 2019

Three fascinating features of the Grey Langurs’ diet

Hello all, it’s Grace again! I’m back with a sequel to my introduction about primates. This blog is about the cheeky Grey Langur; a species of monkey you can find in Yala National Park, other areas of Sri Lanka and also India. You’ll find out three fascinating facts about grey langurs as well as a little bit about their strange dietary regimens!

01. In Yala, they move around in highly social groups of up to approximately 60 individuals. These groups are referred to as “troops”. For the most part of the day you can see these troops sitting on the ground or up in trees foraging for their favourite food – leaves! (Bet you thought it was bananas, right?) Because of this we refer to them as folivores as leaves make up the majority of their diet.

02. Leaves and plant matter are difficult to digest. To combat this, the langurs have a fermentation chamber in their stomachs that contains a special bacteria to break down the cellulose in leaves. This is why these primates are somewhat pot-bellied, since these fermentation chambers create an awful lot of gas!

03. You can also observe a very strange behaviour in infant Grey Langurs. The youngsters eat the dung of the adults in their troop. This is because they are not born with a certain cellulose-digesting bacteria, so for it to be present in their gut they must eat their parent’s poo! The consuming of dung is known as coprophagy and this behaviour can be seen throughout the animal kingdom. Nature is indeed amusing.

Grace Sears

Ranger at Wild Coast Lodge