KINGDOM: Animalia (Animals)
PHYLUM: Chordata (Possessing a notochord)
CLASS: Mammalia (Mammals)
FAMILY: Cercopithecidae (Old World Monkeys)
SUB-FAMILY: Cercopithecinae (Monkeys incl. Baboons, macaques and vervets)
GENUS: Erythrocebus (Patas Monkey)
SPECIES: Erythrocebus patas (Patas Monkey)
Patas Monkeys are endemic to West and East Africa. They occur across sub-Saharan Africa from Senegal to Ethiopia and as far south as Cameroon and Tanzania.
Patas monkeys have long, slim bodies and limbs covered in a red, shaggy fur, with the underside being white. The face is white to grey with a dark nose, a dark stripe above the brow, and a red cap on the head.
Patas Monkeys are a ground-dwelling primate and they inhabit open country and can be found in grass savannah, dense woodlands with tall grass and grass steppe with thicket clumps. They have been known to avoid dense cover, probably due to exposure to predators. Being very adaptable primates, they can also be found in arid areas, including the southern fringes of the Sahara Desert flooded deltas and even in moist forest where land has been cleared by people.
Patas Monkeys are omnivores. They will eat fruit, leaves, tree gum, roots, berries, beans, seeds, tubers, insects, lizards, birds’ eggs, cotton, and even crops.
They live in multi-female groups of up to 60 individuals, with only one male present in the group except for breeding season. One or two females dominate the group, with the male acting as a guard and lookout. Lone males and all-male groups also exist, and during breeding season, these males will enter into the female groups.
Patas Monkeys have various communication methods, including tactile (touch), visual and vocal communication. Visual signals such as body posture and facial expressions play an important role in communication. They also have a large range of vocalisations, including calls, barks, and grunts. As with most primates, touch is also important for socialisation through grooming, aggression, and playing.
These monkeys seem to be polygynandrous (meaning both males and females have multiple mates). Gestation is about five months, after which a single offspring will be born. Infants will cling to their mother and will be nursed and cared for by the female. The young will gradually become independant and males will leave their natal group at around 2-4 years old. Females will stay in their natal group and remain close to their mothers. Males will become sexually mature at about 4 years of age, and females at about 2.5 years. They can live up to 24 years.
Patas monkeys are preyed on by lions, leopards, jackals, wild dogs, hyenas, pythons, crocodiles and eagles. The male will act as a diversion, leading predators away from females and infants.
The main threats faced by patas monkeys are habitat loss and hunting. They are also sometimes considered pests and therefore shot.
Did you know?
- They are the fastest primate on earth, reaching speeds of 55km per hour!
- They have been called “the dancing monkey” because they jump when they are excited
- Patas monkeys can hold as much food in their cheeks as they can in their stomachs
- The smart red coat and solider-like white moustache of the patas monkey has led to them also being commonly known as “Military Monkeys”