Deep in southwestern South America in places like Chile and Argentina, you might be lucky enough to stumble upon a monito del monte which means “little bush monkey.” Though it earned this name, it’s not actually a monkey at all, but a tiny little marsupial that’s about 8–13 cm (3.1–5.1 in) in length. It lives in the thickets of South American mountain bamboo in the Valdivian temperate rain forests of the southern Andes. It’s notable as the only surviving member of an otherwise extinct order dating back more than 40 million years, the Microbiotheria, giving it another nickname of “living fossil.”

The monito del monte is able to grasp the trees it lives in with its tail, but the tail also serves another important purpose. Their tails have the ability to store fat which helps them to hibernate during the winter when food is in short supply. When it comes to mating, they are monogamous and the females carry the young in their pouch until they are mature enough to leave after about 5 months. They are then nursed in a nest and often carried on the mother’s back. The young continue to remain in association with their mother even after weaning.

The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species lists this little guy as Near Threatened due to, you guessed it, habitat loss caused by human expansion, including removal of the trees in which they live. Luckily, the monito del monte does occur in some protected areas and research is underway on the island of Chiloé into the species’ ecology and natural history, in hopes to inform future conservation actions. Hang in there little bush monkey, help is on the way!

About the Doodlewash

M. Graham watercolors: Burnt Sienna, Quinacridone Gold, Ultramarine Blue,  Permanent Pale Green, Azo Yellow, and Neutral Tint. Sennelier L’Aquarelle: Opera Rose. Lamy Safari Al Star pen with Platinum Carbon sepia ink and second pen with black ink in a 5″ x 8″ 140 lb. (300 gsm) Pentalic Aqua Journal


Posted by:Charlie O'Shields (doodlewash)

Creator of Doodlewash® and founder of World Watercolor Month™ (July) and World Watercolor Group™. Sharing daily watercolor illustrations and stories while proudly featuring talented artists from all over the world!

60 replies on “The Monito Del Monte

  1. I love, love, love your doodlewash of this sweet thang! It looks so nervous, I just want to hug it and tell it things will be okay (which would be lying but I don’t want to scare it anymore than it already is). :} ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Oh they’re so wonderful! His little hands… and I love how you did his little whiskers – they cap off the cuteness! So so adorable. He looks like he’s spiralling his way up the bamboo to safety.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. When I first saw it, I thought you’d lost your mind, Charlie! 😜 What?! This is NOT a monkey! 🐒 So I read on and discovered that you had not gone bananas! 🍌 I was relieved, my friend. 😄💕 Fantastic doodlewash! 🎨👍💕🌈

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  4. Wow! Such a cute portrait, heart-melt worthy eyes…lovely painting of a delightfully cute animal who has such an adorably cute, albeit exotic, name. (insert liberal helping of sweet adjectives…this feature is that adorable!) Thank you for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Rebecca! 😃💕 I bet your pet possums were super cute! Actually the other name for this little one is colocolo opossum, though it’s actually more closely related to a kangaroo (the lineage on this guy is confusing because its so ancient!). But that tail is definitely possum-like…hehe

      Liked by 1 person

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