Vervet monkeys are primates found in Africa. They are behaviorally one of the closest to humans. They are divided into five subspecies. Their broad range of distribution ensures its population’s safety for some time to come.
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Vervet Monkey Scientific Classification
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Size: Male vervets are 17-24 in (42-60 cm), and females 11.8-19.5 in (30-49.5 cm).
Weight: Males weigh around 8.6-17.6 lbs (3.9-8 kg), while females weigh 7.5-11.7 lbs (3.4-5.3 kg).
Color: They have grayish to reddish-green hair on the body with a black face with white cheeks, grizzled upper body, black tail tip, there are color variations among subspecies
Sexual Dimorphism: Males are larger and heavier, and have flamboyantly colored genitals
There are five recognized subspecies of the vervet monkey:
- Chlorocebus pygerythrus excubitor or Wittu Islands vervet monkey
- C. p. hilgerti or Hilgert’s vervet monkey
- C. p. nesiotes or Pemba vervet monkey
- C. p. pygerythrus or Black-chinned vervet monkey
- C. p. rufoviridis or Reddish-green vervet monkey
Vervet monkeys are abundant across Southern and Eastern Africa, Somalia and Ethiopia at the northern range to Angola in the west and South Africa. There are also introduced populations in Florida, Alabama, Texas, Arizona, California, Louisiana, Cape Verde and Ascension Island.
They live in open woodlands, savannahs and riverine woodlands. They usually stay near a water body.
- They are very social and live in patriarchal troops of up to 38 individuals. Males usually move into a different group once they reach puberty, females stay in their natal groups for life.
- The social hierarchy determines the accessibility to the prime food available, meaning the members higher up in the pecking order get their food first.
- Vervet monkeys are active during the day and spend the nights at rest.
- They are arboreal and spend most of their time on the branches of trees.
- Social grooming forms an integral part of their activities. This increases group unity.
They eat fruits, seeds, leaves, buds, grasses, and roots. They also sometimes feed on crustaceans, insects, bird eggs, chicks, and lizards.
Mating & Reproduction
The birthing season for vervets falls between September and February. The females give birth to offspring once annually. The gestation period lasts for around 5½ months. Usually, a single offspring is born, but sometimes twin births have been reported.
The babies are born with a weight of less than a pound. They are weaned at around 8½ months. The mother’s position determines an offspring’s rank in the group. Male vervets reach sexual maturity when they are about 5 years old, while females become mature between 2½-4 years of age.
A vervet monkey can live for up to 30 years.
Sounds & Vocalizations
They have around 36 distinct calls.
The sounds that these monkeys use to communicate with each other have studied in detail. It is widely believed that they have separate alarm calls for different situations. If an individual makes an alarm call for an incoming eagle, others will look up at the sky, while another alarm call for a leopard makes all other individuals scampering for the trees. Another unique aspect of their communication is the ability of mothers to recognize their infant’s calls.
- The arms and length of this monkey are about the same length, so when they run on all fours, they can reach speeds of up to 30 miles per hour.
- The long tail helps them to maintain balance when they are on branches of trees.
Baboons, pythons, leopards and eagles are confirmed predators of vervet monkeys.
IUCN Conservation Status
The IUCN lists vervet monkeys under the ‘Least Concern’ category.
- There are certain traits in vervets which are very similar to humans; these are alcohol use, hypertension, and anxiety.
- A rarity in the animal kingdom, these monkeys are often spiteful with one another, going an extra yard to make a fellow vervet’s life difficult.