Wondernose: What Animal has a Tail Like a Pig’s and Wears a Black Cap on its Head?

by Rebecca Martin | Mar 29, 2021 | 0 comments

Some pigs carry their tails in a distinct curl. Our mystery animal doesn’t do that. It’s just the tail’s appearance that’s like a pig’s—short and sometimes curly, with thin hair.

As for that “black cap,” on top of our animal’s head, the hair is parted in a whorl. In this area, the hair is black, or considerably darker than the rest of the fur. So, Wondernose, this creature
doesn’t exactly wear a toque. It just looks like that.

Pig-tailed Monkey
Pig-tailed Monkey. Photo © Jiri Zuzanek/Dreamstime.com

Our mystery animal is a cheerful, friendly creature. It lives in southeast Asia. The natives there like to keep this animal for a pet. It can be taught to do many things.

I guess you know how a coconut palm tree looks, Wondernose. The bare trunk is very tall, and coconuts grow only at the very top. Who wants to pick coconuts? I don’t! But our mystery animals are often trained to do it. Nimbly they scamper up that bare trunk. Reaching the top, they begin throwing down coconuts, all the while chattering merrily. Often these pets are nearly like one of the family. They’re captured as babies and raised along with the children. With time, they learn to obey simple commands.

That was easy to guess, Wondernose. Of course the answer to our riddle is MONKEY. Now, can you guess the full name? No, not black-capped monkey. Pig-tailed monkey is the correct name.

Pig-tailed monkeys belong to a group called macaques. Headgear is what all the macaque monkeys have in common. All of them sport some form of cap, bonnet, or mane. What? You think I should have said their hairdos are what they have in common? I guess you’re right, because, in reality, the monkeys aren’t wearing anything on their heads.

Tropical rain forests are the pig-tails’ favorite habitat. Some species of macaque don’t spend much time in the trees, but the pig-tails do. Apparently they don’t mind that their tails aren’t prehensile. They can still run about on the branches to find fruits and leaves for food.

I’ve mentioned that the pig-tail is a friendly monkey. In captivity, some monkeys are aggressive and bad-tempered. But pig-tails are a favorite in zoos, because they seem to enjoy people. For some reason, they are not as nervous as many other monkeys.

Among themselves, the pig-tails are also friendly. That is, they are friendly toward the members of their own troop. Like most monkeys, the pig-tails live together in troops. There may be as many as forty in a troop. Together they forage for food. Each troop has its own territory. If one troop trespasses on the territory of another, the result is bedlam! Pig-tails make a whooping noise when they’re angry. Their fighting isn’t vicious, though; a few members might come away with scratches and bruises, but that’s about it.

The babies of pig-tails—or most macaques for that matter—usually have darker fur than the adults. As the baby grows older, its fur turns lighter, and the black cap on its head stands out in greater contrast.

Another macaque that’s very similar to the pig-tail is the lion-tailed macaque. How do you think this one’s tail looks, Wondernose? Yes, it is short-haired, with a lion-like tuft at the end. Actually, the tail is not the only part of the monkey that resembles a lion. It also sports a large pale mane all around its face. The lion-tail is quite an impressive monkey!

However, lion-tails are smaller than pig-tails, weighing only around 15 pounds (7 kg). A full-grown male pig-tail may weigh up to 30 pounds (13 kg).

Other features that would help you distinguish the lion-tail from the pig-tail are the lion-tail’s darker fur and longer tail. However, lion-tails are rarely seen. There aren’t many of them, and they’re shy. They live in southern India.

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