Are Monkeys Dangerous? The 4 Most Dangerous Monkeys You Should Watch Out for

Most Dangerous Monkeys

In the wild, monkey assaults are exceedingly uncommon. Instead, the animals are often afraid of humans and flee when one approaches nearby. However, as monkeys’ natural habitats are destroyed across the globe, they are being forced to relocate closer to human settlements, where they often clash with residents.

You don’t need to see a real-life King Kong to have an idea of what kind of damage a destructive and tremendously powerful monkey is capable of doing to a human. Monkeys viciously bite and scratch people to keep their place in the group’s social hierarchy.

In this article, we are going to discuss the features and characteristics of the top four most dangerous monkeys you should keep an eye out for.

Let’s dive in.

Do Monkeys Bite?

Not every monkey you encounter will be equally dangerous. However, according to the World Health Organization, monkeys cause the fourth most frequent animal bite injury among international tourists. 

Scientists in the UK found that people often misinterpret a monkey’s expression as meaning the complete opposite of what it does.

What Are the Types of Monkeys? 

There are 334 types of monkeys found in the monkey world. Among them, 160 species are from the Old World and 174 from the New World.

Old World monkeys’ noses are narrower, and their nostrils point downward. New World monkeys have fewer teeth and less developed color vision. Not all monkey types are dangerous. 

Old World Monkeys

The term “Old World monkey” refers to a family of monkeys known taxonomically as the Cercopithecidae.

There are 132 different species of monkeys in the family of Cercopithecidae, including monkeys from Africa and Asia. When it comes to size, habitat, and social structure, the Old World monkey family is as varied as it gets. Many species of Old World monkeys are found in a broad range of habitats, from deserts to rainforests to icy mountains.

Many experts in the study of monkeys are replacing the term “Old World” with African or Asian based on their origin. 

Similarly, Central or South American monkeys are the potential new names for the “New World” monkey. 

Mandrill: The Most Dangerous Monkey

Mandril is known to be the most dangerous and vicious monkey. It is the biggest species of monkey in the world. 

Features of Mandrill

When provoked or angry, mandrills may do a lot of damage. They are potent primates with large, pointed teeth. If they feel threatened, they may attack with great violence.

Height (inch)Weight (pound)Most Dangerous FeaturesDiet Type
22-37 inch33-88 lbSharp teeth and nails
Fast speed
Long tails

Characteristics of Mandrill

closeup shot of Mandrill monkey face
Image credit: Leon Forado, Shutterstock

Mandrills are known to be shy creatures. But the scenario changes when they are triggered or angry. Other characteristics include:

  • The male mandrills have different colors. Their chests are white; their backs are orange;; and their faces and lips are deep blue. 
  • The female mandrills do not have any facial marks, which are considered a symbol of strength. Also, they are somewhat smaller than the male mandrills.
  • Mandrills can be highly aggressive toward one another, particularly during the breeding season.
  • During this time, the males will fight for dominance and territory rights.

Their teeth are large and powerful enough to inflict significant skin penetration. You should constantly be on the watch around these creatures since other animals and people quickly trigger their feral impulses.

As dangerous as mandrills are, attacks on people are pretty uncommon. Because mandrills do not consider people to be food, they will not attack them. Like other wild animals, mandrills have temper tantrums, much like the rest of us, and may lash out in self-defense. 

When a mandrill attacks a person, it is generally because the human poses some kind of threat to the mandrill’s survival.

The IUCN presently classifies mandrills as a vulnerable species. Widespread deforestation across its area is primarily to blame for its precarious position. It is also extensively killed for bushmeat, which is perhaps the biggest threat to the species.

You may also like: Most Dangerous Big Cat

Other Most Dangerous Monkeys

It’s not only mandril you need to watch out for while strolling through the woods; some other monkeys are also a real threat. However, you may safely engage in activity with some of them, while others are best left alone. 

Like humans, not all monkeys are harmless because they seem attractive. Here we gathered a list of monkeys that can be dangerous at times.

1. Baboon

Baboons are enormous when compared to other monkey species, with a mass range of 22–37 kg.

Features of Baboon

Height (inch)Weight (pound)Most Dangerous FeaturesDiet Type
20-45 inch32-82 lbSharp skin and flesh-penetrating teeth Strong grip and claw
Good vision and smelling ability

Characteristics of Baboon

Baboons pose little threat to humans unless provoked. However, assaults do occur due to their frequent interactions with people. Their characteristics include:

  • Baboons are opportunistic feeders and omnivores, meaning they will consume practically anything.
  • When tourists feed monkeys and other animals, the animals begin to identify them as a source of food. 
  • You may be attacked when these monkeys find you with food or something they want.

When it comes down to it, baboons are more commonly getting beaten up than doing the beating. Crops and farms may take a severe hit from a vast army. 

2. Spider Monkey

spider monkey hanging in the tree
Image credit: Photo Spirit, Shutterstock

The spider monkey isn’t particularly dangerous on its own, but its massive frame does make it a possible threat.

Features of Spider Monkey

Height (inch)Weight (pound)Most Dangerous FeaturesDiet Type
14-26 inch15-19 lbLong hand and legs
Enormous strength in legs
Loud vocal

Characteristics of Spider Monkeys

Spider monkeys are known to be fiercely territorial. Other characteristics include:

  • The fur of spider monkeys may be any of many hues, from red to brown to black. Their lengthy hands complement their slim torsos and limbs.
  • Touching or getting into their personal space is unsafe because they can become aggressive and bite.
  • Spider monkeys are the only New World monkeys that have prehensile tails.
  • Spider monkeys’ long, muscular tails may be utilized as an extra hand. That way, they may use their hands for other things, like gathering food, and yet get a helping hand when climbing or swinging.

Even though there are no records of a fatal attack by a spider monkey, they can cause serious injuries.

3. Macaque Monkey

Another dangerous monkey species is the macaque monkey. The Japanese macaque and the Barbary macaque are only two of the many macaque species. 

Features of Macaque Monkey

Height (inch)Weight (pound)Most Dangerous FeaturesDiet Type
16-28 inch12-40 lbSharp fangs
Vector of transmitting diseases
Transmit Pox and Rotavirus

Characteristics of Macaque Monkey

While the rhesus monkey is well-known for its versatility, intellect, and kind nature, it also has dangerous characteristics. 

  • Herpes B can be spread to people by contact with an infected macaque’s saliva, blood, or bodily fluids.
  • Depending on the macaque’s personality, it is possible for them to be hostile toward humans at any time, although this is rare.
  • The macaque monkeys in a group have a clear pecking order.
  • Fights between them can get so severe that bones are broken, and flesh is torn off.

Disease-infected monkeys are the most dangerous to humans and their own race as well.

Monkey vs Ape

Primate species have a reputation for being very clever and sociable. Apes and monkeys have the remarkable skill of cognitive mapping, which allows them to recall potential locations of food, danger, and landmarks within their home area. 

They may also communicate with one another via noises and body language. Yet they are different in many aspects.

TailMost species have tails.No species have tails.
Size and ShapeSmaller and lighter than apes.Apes are larger and heavier than monkeys. 
ChestThey are narrow-chested. Their skeletons resemble those of small to medium-sized domesticated dogs and cats.They have wide chests and shoulder joints that let them swing among the trees.
Sleeping arrangementMonkeys sleep on trees.Apes sleep on the ground, possibly in a nest. 
IntelligenceMonkeys show a moderate level of intelligence. Compared to monkeys, apes have a larger brain-to-body size ratio, making them smarter. Indeed, apes are among the most perceptive of all mammals. Apes have a more advanced degree of thought and problem-solving ability than monkeys.
Cognitive SkillMonkeys are excellent communicators because they employ both vocalizations and physical gestures.Research has shown that apes have significantly more complex language and reasoning abilities than monkeys.

You might remember the emergence of apes from the film “Rise of the Planet of Apes.” It might shock you that the monkeys in South Africa gave many nightmares of a Planet of the Apes-style insurrection! 

Even though monkeys are not technically apes, the resemblance between their uprising and the film’s plot was uncanny! 

Can a Monkey Kill You?

Sure, a monkey can take your life. Mandrills, in particular. The mandrill is a large, fierce animal with formidable canine teeth; in principle, it could quickly kill a person. However, unlike other primates, mandrills have not been responsible for any human deaths in modern history.

If a monkey bites you in the right place, it may sever an artery and kill you. Therefore, it is always wise to avoid them.


Monkeys are popular animals around the globe because of their human-like features. Some people also choose them as pets. 

However, if not handled appropriately, any of the listed monkey species might pose severe risks to human beings. To avoid getting attacked, treat monkeys with the same level of caution you’d use around any other wild animal.

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