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Amazing Facts About The Vervet Monkey For Kids

Vervet monkey facts are sure to amaze you

Vervet monkeys are medium to large sized monkeys that are common in eastern and southern Africa. there are five subspecies of the African vervet monkey today. The scientific name for vervet monkeys is Chlorocebus pygerythrus. Vervet monkeys can be recognized by their characteristic greenish olive or silvery gray body. They have black faces, tail tips, ears, hands and feet. Their forehead also has a white band which blends seamlessly with their short whiskers. Male vervet monkeys are usually bigger than female monkeys.  

Vervet monkeys typically inhabit the savanna, coastal forests, riverine woodland, as well as mountains. The species tends to live in social groups that can have anywhere between 10-50 members. A per the International Union for Conservation of Nature, vervet monkeys have the conservation status of Least Concern. Some threats to their population, however, are urbanization, agricultural practices where they are considered to be pests, and humans hunting these animals for bushmeat. They have also been used to a model of primates for the study of human genetics and social behavior.      

Read on to find out more about vervet monkeys. For more interesting animal facts, check out our articles on the Bornean orangutan and proboscis monkey.    

Vervet Monkey Interesting Facts

What type of animal is a vervet monkey?

Vervet monkeys are medium to large sized monkeys that can be found in eastern and southern Africa. Their scientific name is Chlorocebus pygerythrus and there are five subspecies of the African vervet monkey today.

What class of animal does a vervet monkey belong to?

The vervet monkey (Chlorocebus pygerythrus) belongs to the Mammalia class of the animal kingdom. It belongs to the Cercopithecidae family and Chlorocebus genus.  

How many vervet monkeys are there in the world?

There is no accurate estimate of the vervet monkey population in the world today, but they have been given the conservation status of Least Concern by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.  

Where does a vervet monkey live?

Vervet monkeys live in the savanna, coastal forests and woodland environments. They prefer acacia trees lining rivers and lakes and can be found in mountain regions up to 1,300 feet. They inhabit these regions in eastern and southern Africa. You will rarely find them in a desert habitat or rainforest because the environment isn't conducive to their survival.

What is a vervet monkey's habitat?

The habitat of vervet monkeys is the savanna, coastal forests and woodland environments with plenty of trees. They prefer acacia trees that line rivers and lakes. These monkeys can can be found in mountain regions up to 1,300 feet. Members of this species inhabit regions in eastern and southern Africa. You will rarely find them in a desert habitat or rainforest because the environment isn't conducive to their survival. Abiotic factors for a vervet monkey include mountains, rocks, water, and regions up to 1,300ft.

Who do vervet monkeys live with?

Being the social animals that they are, this wildlife species live in groups or troops that can have anywhere between 10-50 members. Troops are made up of adult females and their infants while male members usually visit several troops to socialize and mate. Hierarchy and dominance is established in a troop by adult males through threats and aggression.    

How long does a vervet monkey live?

The vervet monkey lifespan can range between 12-24 years of age, with some vervet living up to 30 years of age.  

How do they reproduce?

Vervet monkeys are usually ready to reproduce by the time they turn five and mating season is between April and June. The reproductive cycles of adult females is 32.5 days, but they don't show any external signs of ovulation. A female will give birth to one infant usually between September and February after a gestation period of five and a half months. Infants weigh 300–400 grams (11–14 oz).  

The infant is cleaned by the mother and spends the first week clinging to the mother's stomach. Strong social bonds form between infants and other monkeys in the troop within one month of birth. Infants have black fur and pink faces, but develop their mature coloration only after a few months. After a diet of mother's milk for four months, infants start eating softer vegetation. They aren't fully weaned at four months though. This happens when they're one year old.

What is their conservation status?

The vervet wildlife species has been given the conservation status of Least Concern by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. There are however, some threats to their survival. Increasing urbanization has resulted in habitat loss for these animals. They also seek out farm lands easily and raid crops which has resulted in them being considered pests by farmers who kill them. They are also killed by some humans for bushmeat. Natural predators of these animals include the eagle, leopard, caracal, crocodiles, serval, and pythons.  

Vervet Monkey Fun Facts

What do vervet monkeys look like?

Vervet monkeys are medium to large sized monkeys with greenish olive or silvery gray bodies.

Vervet monkeys have a grizzly fur coat that can be silvery gray or greenish olive. Whether it's a gray or green vervet monkey, the face, feet, hands, and tail tip are black and hairless. They also have white coloring around their eyes and eyelid. Their long arms and legs help them to move quickly. The vervet monkey skull is also fitted with canine teeth that protrudes 3.2 cm out of the gum.

Brightly colored genitals can be seen in males, with a red penis and blue scrotum. The blue scrotum is significant because it pales whenever the male monkey falls in social rank.        

How cute are they?

Vervet monkeys may not be as cute as your beloved pet dog, but they are cute, especially when they are infants.

How do they communicate?

Vervet monkey communication happens through sounds and body language. A raising and lowering of eyebrows is meant to be a threat to others in the troop. There are also vervet monkey vocalizations like crying and barking to signal different information. Wanting calls are used by mothers to attract infants while chattering signals irritation or aggression.

These monkeys also protect themselves from predators by making high pitched squeals and vervet monkey alarm calls. They also tend to remain close to trees in an attempt to protect themselves from predators.

How big is a vervet monkey?

Vervet males in a group are generally bigger than the females. Males of this species are typically 420-600 mm (17-24 in) long, with an average length of 490 mm (19 in). Females in groups are usually 300 -495 mm (11.8-19.5 in) long, with an average length of 426 mm (16.8 in). When taking tail length into consideration, it can grow to 600-750 mm (24-30 in) for males and 485-653 mm (19-26 in) for females.  

How fast can a vervet monkey run?

A vervet monkey can run at a top speed of up to 30 miles per hour.  

How much does a vervet monkey weigh?

The weight of these animals also differs based on their sex. Male vervets in a group can weigh 3.9 - 8.0 kg (8.6-17.6 lb), with their average weight being 5.5 kg (12 lb). Female animals in a group can weigh 3.4-5.3 kg (7.5-11.7 lb), with their average weight being 4.1 kg (9.0 lb).

What are their male and female names of the species?

Males and females of this species aren't referred to by different names. They are just called vervet monkeys.

What would you call a baby vervet monkey?

A vervet monkey baby in a group is called an infant.

What do they eat?

Their diet mainly consists of shoots, leaves, tree bark, seeds, bulbs, roots, and grasses. Being omnivorous, they also feed on insects, rodents, eggs, birds and small animals to supplement their diet. The troop usually spends mornings and evenings on trees looking for food and afternoons eating, grooming, and resting. Their cheek pouches can store food for consumption later and color vision aids them in telling which is a ripe fruit.    

Are they aggressive?

While vervet monkeys typically prefer the 'flight' over 'fight' response, they can become aggressive when they feel threatened and need to defend themselves. This is especially the case with female monkeys in a troop trying to defend their young. When these primates are in troops, the dominant hierarchy of adult male monkeys is established and sustained through the use of aggression and threat.    

They can also contract and spread rabies if they're bitten by an infected animal, but this is not anymore dangerous than a dog with rabies, too. It is however advisable not to keep them as pets as they can become aggressive when the environment around them isn't conducive to their wellbeing.

Would they make a good pet?

Vervet monkeys are wildlife and are not meant to be kept as pets. In fact, trapping them and selling them as pets poses a greater risk to the population of this African species. Vervets are loud, aggressive, messy, and difficult to care for. Without the right diet, this species of wildlife can become extremely sick and unhappy. This will result in the monkeys dying much sooner than their natural lifespan.  

Kidadl Advisory: All pets should only be bought from a reputable source. It is recommended that as a potential pet owner you carry out your own research prior to deciding on your pet of choice. Being a pet owner is very rewarding but it also involves commitment, time and money. Ensure that your pet choice complies with the legislation in your state and/or country. You must never take animals from the wild or disturb their habitat. Please check that the pet you are considering buying is not an endangered species, or listed on the CITES list, and has not been taken from the wild for the pet trade.

Did you know...

The Vervet Monkey Foundation was established in 1993 near Tzaneen, South Africa for the rehabilitation, education as well as to be a sanctuary for vervet monkeys.  

Vervet monkeys act as agents of seed dispersal, excreted the seeds from ingested foods away from their original area of consumption. This aids the rehabilitation of disturbed areas.  

Why is the alarm call of the vervet monkey an advanced form of communication?

Vervet monkey calls are advanced forms of communication because each alarm call is meant to help the troop avoid a particular predator. For example, short tonal calls are an alarm for leopards, high pitched chatters are for snakes, and low pitched grunts are for eagles. This allows them to take the appropriate action in response to each predator.  

What are vervet monkeys afraid of?

Vervet monkeys are terrified of snakes. To prevent them from being pests in agricultural practices, it is advised that you place rubber snakes around. You will have to switch around the position of these rubber snakes though because if it is placed in one position for too long, they will end up ignoring it.

Apart from snakes, they also tend to be afraid of anything being pointed at them, especially if it imitates the look of a gun. Even pointing a camera pointing at them can scare them off.  

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! Learn more about some other mammals including capuchin monkey, or Japanese macaque.

You can even occupy yourself at home by drawing one on our Vervet monkey coloring pages.

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