A monkey makes a meal of it

Sometimes coming face to face with nature can be brutal. Watch what happens when a monkey catches a lizard in Costa Rica.

Written by Michael Turtle

Michael Turtle is the founder of Time Travel Turtle. A journalist for more than 20 years, he's been travelling the world since 2011.

Michael Turtle is the founder of Time Travel Turtle and has been travelling full time for a decade.


Monkey eats lizard, Costa Rica

When you put yourself in the middle of nature, you can’t be too surprised when you see the realities of nature. It doesn’t mean you’re prepared for it to be so brutal.

It was getting late in the day when I was walking back to the beach at Costa Rica’s Manuel Antonio National Park.

The area is full of wildlife and I had seen a sloth high the branches, a howler monkey lazing in a tree, and plenty of white-faced capuchin monkeys.

So I was not too surprised when I saw another white-faced capuchin race across the track in front of me. It was certainly moving a bit faster than the ones I had seen previously but it wasn’t something that I questioned.

Not until I saw the flash of green in front of it, that was.

Monkey eats lizard, Manuel Antonio, Costa Rica

The capuchin, it turned out, was chasing a green lizard. It was a largish lizard – at least 30 centimetres long.

It was not a fast enough lizard, though. The monkey caught up with it and wrapped its little paws around its body, lifting it off the ground.

What do you do with a lizard you’ve caught?

Well, the monkey took it up into the branch of a nearby tree and looked around for any of his mates who might want their share. Luckily for this guy, there was nobody around. It was dinner for one.

Monkey eats lizard, Manuel Antonio, Costa Rica

And so he then got stuck into the lizard as though it was a corn on the cob. It ripped off the tail and started with that, keeping a little bit for later (perhaps it was to be a toothpick at some point).

Holding the lizard tightly, the capuchin then bit right into the middle of its body. It munched away, chewing and chewing until it was ready to swallow – and then it took another bite.

Monkey eats lizard, Manuel Antonio, Costa Rica
Monkey eats lizard, Manuel Antonio, Costa Rica

I was shocked. We all know that animals eat other animals but it’s not always so violently in your face.

Most animals seem to have an unwitting self-consciousness about it and seem to do it with a level of privacy. This monkey was not going to wait until it was alone, though.

It was hungry and was going to make sure it did not lose this opportunity.

I hope you enjoy the little video I managed to capture of the meal. It’s certainly not something you see every day.

Although in Costa Rica, it’s probably more common than you realise.

Time Travel Turtle was a guest of Visit Costa Rica but the opinions, over-written descriptions and bad jokes are his own.

25 thoughts on “A monkey makes a meal of it”

  1. Amazing. You are so lucky that you were there to see this. You are right though, it is a bit shocking to see as you don’t really expect it from a monkey. A lot of primates do actually eat meat though. I think gorillas are one of the few that don’t.

    • I think there’s an element of being in the right place at the right time to catch something like this. I guess for the lizard it was more the wrong place at the wrong time, though!

  2. Were we there at the same time? lol, we just got back from Manel Antonio today and we saw the exact same thing yesterday as we were leaving the park! The monkey raced behind me, grabbed a lizard, tore off its tail and started chowing down! It was soo crazy to see, the tail was still wiggling and you could see the juices oozing out of the poor lizard, the monkey was holding it so tight around the neck I’m pretty sure he strangeled it if getting eaten alive didn’t do it in. I felt kind of bad for the lizard but monkey gotta eat. I had no idea they ate lizards either but apparently they are very tasty!

    • Maybe you expect it more on the plains of Africa or something like that. But everything seemed so peaceful at Manuel Antonio… until this! Monkeys aren’t so cute when they’re ripping apart a lizard like this!

  3. It’s so easy to forget that monkeys do eat meat since we are probably accustomed to them munching on fruit in zoos. He sure does look like he’s enjoying his meal!

    • He was enjoying it but he was also being pretty careful to keep an eye on things around him. Luckily no other monkeys came along to get their share… things could have turned very nasty!!


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