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Primate Care

Plant Species Used in Feeding Captive Primates

National Research Council of the National Academies
Nutrient Requirement of Nonhuman Primates
Second Revised Edition, 2003

Alder (Alnus spp.)
Alfalfa (Medicago sativa)
American holly (Ilex opaca)
Bamboo (Pseudosasa spp., Phyllostachys spp.)
Beech (Fagus spp.)
Blackberry (Rubus betuifolius)
Brush cherry (Syzgium paniculatum)
Buckthorn (Bumelia tena)
Cabbage palm (Sabel palmetto)
Carolina cherry laurel (Prunus caroliniana)
Chinaberry (Melia azedarach)
Common Nightshade (Solanum nigrum)
Cup-of-gold (Solandra guttata)
Fig (Ficus carica)
Fig (Ficus glomerata)
Fig (Ficus macrophulla)
Fig (Ficus nittida)
Fig (Ficus retusa)
Fig (Ficus rubiginosa)
Fig (Ficus rumphii)
Fig (Ficus thonningii)
Flowering dogwood (Cornus florida)
Grape (Vitis spp.)
Giant cane (Arundinaria gigantean)
Hackberry (Celtis occidentalis georgiana)
Hercules’ club (Zanthoxylum clava-herculis)
Hibiscus (Hibiscus rosa-sinesis)
Kudzu (Pueraria hirsuta)
Live oak (Quercus virginiana)
Loblolly pine (Pinus taeda)
Mangrove (Rhizophora spp.)
Maple (Acer spp.)
Mexican tea (Chenopodium ambrosiodes)
Mulberry (Morus spp.)
Muscadine grape (Vitis retundifolia)
Nut muscadine (Vitis cinerea)
Persimmon (Diospyros virginiana)
Red bay (Persea borbonia)
Red cedar (Juniperus silicicild)
Resurrection fern (Polypodium polypoides)
Small pignut (Carya ovalis)
Southern bayberry/wax myrtle (Myrica cerifera)
Southern magnolia (Magnolia grandiflora)
Spanish moss (Tillandsia usneoides)
Sparkleberry (Vaccinium arboretum)
Sugarberry (Celtis laevigata)
Virginia creeper (Parthenocissus quinquefolia)
Weeping Chinese banyan (Ficus benjamina)
Willow (Salix spp.)
Yaupon (Ilex vomitoria)

Children’s Health System (11/07)


African violet (Saint Paulia) Nandina
Aluminum plant (Pilea) Norfolk pine
Bloodleaf plant (Iresine) Palm
Christmas cactus Patient lucy (Impatiens)
Coleus Prayer plant (Leuconeura)
Corn plant (Dracaena) Primula
Dusty miller (Cineraria)
Devil's walking stick (Aralia)
Jade plant (Crassula)
Lady's slipper (Calceolaria)
Monkey grass (Leriope)
Purple passion
Snake plant (Sanseviera)
Spider plant(Chlorophytum)
Swedish ivy (Plectrantus)
Umbrella plant (Schefflera)
Velvet plant, Purple passion plant (Gynura)
Wandering jew, Inch plant (Tradesdantia)

Recommended Browse for Primates

For primates who do not have browse in their daily diet, fresh browse should be introduced slowly, and only one new plant species at a time. Watch for possible allergic reactions.

Primates prefer the new growth; in their natural habitat which often provides an endless supply of seasonal browse, primates generally eat only young leaves. (A plant’s new growth has lower levels of plant-protective toxins in the leaves).

When first introducing browse, we recommend no woody stems be fed, as these have caused blockages in some primates. This may be due to either a lack of intestinal capability to break down the stems, or a primate’s appetite for fresh browse exceeds the amount of available young leaves.

Fresh browse should be rinsed thoroughly before feeding, and should not have been exposed to pesticides at any time.

Browse is an important element in most primates’ diets, and is the sole food type, in nature, for some species. It provides nutrition not found in cultivated produce or manufactured biscuits. Browse is also a great source of environmental enrichment, providing opportunities for manipulation and varied flavors and textures. It can be an important aid to good dental health, as well. Whenever possible, fresh browse should be included daily, for optimum health and well-being.

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