Scientists have captured the remarkable moment a boa constrictor attacked a fully-grown howler monkey to claim it as a substantial snack.
The incident, which took place deep in the Amazon rainforest in Western Brazil, is rare. As monkeys are usually adept at protecting themselves from predators. But the video shows the huge snake crushing the hapless monkey before swallowing it whole.
The video has caused scientists to rethink how vulnerable primates can be to skilled predators like the boa constrictor. That usually stick to smaller meals like rodents and birds, LiveScience reported.
Júlio César Bicca-Marques said the female Purús red howler monkey did not see the snake lying in wait in the tree.
In the study Dr Bicca-Marques suggests snakes prey on more New World monkeys than was previously thought.
Paul Garber, a primatologist at the University of Illinois said that snakes, raptors and big cats do attack monkeys. But filming macabre spectacle is very rare. The monkeys usually defend themselves by living in groups and collectively keeping an eye out for threats.
But the unfortunate monkey in the film broke away from her group of five in the Amazon jungle before meeting the snake.
The boa constrictor reportedly struck at the monkey and swiftly wrapped it in a death-grip by coiling its muscular body around the monkey. Which tried to free itself by gripping a tree, but was crushed.
The snake’s attack was typical, according to experts. It crouched in once place, camouflaged in the foliage to wait for its next meal.
Boa constrictors are so patient they have been known to wait in one spot for around one month.
The female monkey was followed by a companion who was unable to save her friend from the powerful snake. Despite hitting it several times.
Defeated, the healthy monkey retreated, leaving the boa constrictor to swallow her crushed friend head-first over a period of just over one hour.
The video shows the snake using its muscles to swallow the bulky monkey. Which is thought to weigh around six kilogrammes – and then a rather huge bulge in its belly.
Dr Bicca-Marques told LiveScience: ‘According to observations on predation attempts on howler monkeys made by other researchers. Howlers often don’t do anything to defend the victim.’
Dr Garber believes the monkey might have avoided being eaten. If it had of stayed with its group, adding: ‘being a solitary monkey is definitely not a good thing.
The researcher claims it is the first time that a terrifying attack of this type has been caught on camera. Although recent studies have found more rare types of primate predation, including a leopard eating a chimpanzee.