Do monkeys really eat bananas?

Vague question, I know: surely some monkeys somewhere eat bananas. There are, after all, many different animals which we call “monkeys,” and surely some monkey habitats overlap with zones in which bananas grow.

I guess I’m asking, “Where does the popular conception come from that (all) monkeys (and even apes) (prefer to) eat bananas?”

Does it come from real in-the-field monkey observation of monkey behavior done by professional monkeyologists? Or is it a small percentage of monkeys who do this, but a famous monkey (real or fictional) popularized the notion?

I guess I’m also asking this question so I can say “monkey” a lot. Monkey monkey monkey. (I also like to say “smock.”)

No George W. Bush jokes, please.

This is one of those rare occasions where the sterotype holds true: monkeys like bananas. I have personally observed a monkey enjoying a banana with great gusto. I also remember some footage from anthropology in undergrad of some formerly peaceable chimpanzees getting downright nasty with each other when given a too-small-to-share amount of bananas. They like them a banana or two, them monkeys.

And before anyone says anything, yes, I know chimps are apes. Maybe i should say primates like banans, us included. :slight_smile:

No. Wild bananas only occur in southeast Asia and Oceania. They are not nearly so large as the domestic varieties. While some kinds of monkeys overlap in range with wild bananas, I am not aware of any studies that show they prefer them to other kinds of fruit in the same area.

On the other hand, bananas are widely introduced in the tropics, and no doubt small banana plantations are sometimes raided by monkeys or apes.

The source of the image, however, is almost surely monkeys in captivity, which do in fact love bananas. (I’m not sure they like them above all other fruits - oranges are also very popular - but they are certainly one of the favorites.)

Part of the image no doubt is due to the fact that bananas are tropical fruits, and thus naturally associated with tropical monkeys.

Smock smock smock.

I was just reading an article about a woman who was estabishing herself as a primatologist (it was in the alumni mag from my regional university or something like that. Can’t remember exactly so no cite. Sorry.) But she was studying wild chimps in Africa and stated that they wouldn’t know what to do with a banana if it hit them on the head. Likely due to wild banana distribution mentioned by Colibri.


Plantains are found in Africa, I belive. Quite similar to bananas.

I know I sure love bananas from time to time. Not sure if anyone but humans ever use bananas as an instrument of flirting, however.

They are just a variety of banana. They are not native there, but are widely grown (as are bananas).

If you’re on a date with a monkey, I bet banana daquiris are the way to go.

Monkeys and dates are not a good thing. Didn’t you see Raiders of the Lost Arc?

“Belloq’s staff is too long. They’re digging in the wrong place!”

Sorry, I know that had nothing to do with monkeys and bananas, or even primates and plantains (which, as Colibri notes, are not native to Africa or the Americas), but it’s almost as hard to pass up the opportunity to toss out a Raiders of the Lost Ark quote as it would be to pass on a Real Genius or Shakespeare quote.

So, like the Irish and potatoes, monkeys may love bananas and the two may be inexorably intertwined in the public consciousness, but it’s not because it is their native foodstuff.


Are there fruit eating animals that don’t love bananas?

I’m not too fond of them.

I read ingredient lists to make sure I don’t get near a speck of banana. :stuck_out_tongue: (not allergic, just hate them with a deep and abiding passion)


Anywho, everybody put on your smocks and lets talk monkey bananas!

Unfortunatly I have never seen a primate other then human peel a banana from the stalk end down in a nice banana unfolding and eat it in the human like manor. Maybe that requires opposible thumbs… :)… I dunno. I HAVE seen them damn monkeys eat bananas without peeling them, the savages, or stripping all the peel off first.

Stupid monkeys.

Well, I have seen a monkey peel a banana and eat it with great gusto. Several of them, in fact, fending off friends and relatives while doing so.

Imagine I am sitting on a kind of veranda in a rented house in Barbados. It is enclosed in wrought iron grillwork, but that is no obstacle to a monkey. Suddenly, my friends and I saw a monkey sitting in the grill. Suddenly, the monkey was on the porch, on the table we were sitting around and just as suddenly, the monkey hopped on the table, grabbed the whole bunch and departed for the nearest tree, where he proceded to peel the banana as neatly as any person might and blommed them all. Since these monkeys normally are very careful to keep clear of people, he must have wanted those bananas very much.

These monkeys are old world monkeys (they are called green monkeys and were introduced presumably around the same time as breadfruit.

Which reminds me, the natural cladistic division in the higher primates is, I believe, between new world monkeys on one hand and apes and old world monkeys on the other. And does anyone know a language other than English that distinguishes monkeys and apes? I have inquired and discovered that none of German, French, Italian, or Spanish makes such a distinction. And my dictionary suggests that it is not wrong to call an ape a monkey, although “monkey” is a relatively new word in English (or obscure origin) and they were all called “apes”, just like “affen” in German.

No, you’ve got the wrong film there. Raiders Of The Lost Arc was a C-grade imitation of the well known Indiana Jones films, except that the main character is a high school geometry teacher who has lost his compass.

Now then, as to the OP. Most monkeys, and apes for that matter, eat fruit eagerly, and for some it makes up most of their diet. It follows that they like bananas.

I’ll leave it to someone else to tell us whether they neatly peel them down and hold them by the ends, as we do.


We had a thread on this not too long ago. (Actually, it may have been a pedantic hijack - my favorite kind - of a thread on another subject.) The distinction between monkeys and apes in English goes back only to the 19th century; before that the terms were synonymous, or else monkeys were regarded as a subset of apes. In popular speech today, the two terms are still synonymous, or else apes are regarded as a subset of apes. In scientific use, there is a distinction - but modern cladistics indicates, as above, that this distinction does not reflect the real relationships.