Monkey, Vervet

Cercopithecus aethiops


Vervet monkeys are highly sociable. They live in troops made up of 8 to 50 individuals but more typically 20 to 30. Male and female vervet monkeys have separate hierarchies with all males out ranking females. At puberty males will leave their troop to find another troop so they can improve their rank. With over 60 gestures and 36 sounds, including specific calls for different groups of predators, vervet monkeys are sophisticated communicators.

Conservation status : Least concern
Length : 1.6 m (including a 60 cm tail)
Weight : Up to 5.5 kg
Life span : 12 years
Gestation : 5.5 months
Young : 1

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Vervet monkeys are fascinated by the pink faces and black fur of newly born babies. The mother will allow other troop members to handle, play with and groom her baby.

A low ranking vervet monkey can improve its standing by grooming high ranking individuals and by handling the infants of dominant females.

With over 60 gestures and 36 sounds, including specific calls for different groups of predators vervet monkeys are sophisticated communicators.

The canine teeth of a vervet monkey are kept razor sharp by rubbing against the lower premolars every time it opens and closes its mouth.

When in long grass vervet monkeys will stand erect to get a better view. Likewise when running they will jump off their hind legs to get elevation in a practice called “spy hopping”.

Vervet monkeys are able to recognise individuals within their own and neighbouring troops by their voice.

The origins of the vervet monkey name stems from the French word, vert, meaning green. This is reflected in another common name used for the primate, green monkey.

If a lower ranked vervet monkey is attacked by a superior in a demonstration of rank it will not react. Instead it will pass on the abuse down the pecking order.