There are several unique creatures in the world, no doubt. Vervet monkeys are a class of monkeys that are acclaimed to share some characteristics with humans. These African primates are sometimes used to study humans' genetics and social behaviours, including anxiety, hypertension, and social and dependent alcohol use. They are very friendly, and they enjoy their group so much. Their mode of communication, adaptation, and mannerism are part of what makes them unique.
Also called a green or a savanna monkey, the vervet monkey is an active and agile species of Old World monkey, usually found in sub-Saharan Africa. It belongs to the family of genus Chlorocebus, and it is called Chlorocebus pygerythrus. The monkey has a black face, and its body hair colour is grey. The female's hair can be as long as 40 centimetres, while those of the males can be 50 centimetres long.
Vervet monkey facts
Several interesting facts can be discovered from this specie of monkeys; some of them are discussed below:
Easy movements and protection
Vervet monkeys have long arms and a long tail that make it easy for them to move very fast and securely through trees when they are looking for food. As omnivores, this helps them protect themselves against attacks from other animals.
READ ALSO: Top 20 extinct and endangered animals in South Africa with images
They are fond of their groups
An interesting thing about this set of animals is their bond with other members of their family. They spend considerable time in large groups, also known as troops. Usually, each group can make up as many as 50 members. As such, they live with one another, groom themselves by removing specks of dirt, parasites, and whatever is unwanted in others' furs. They also warn each other about potential dangers.
While males have numerous mates in their lifetime, females have few. Their gestation period lasts for up to 140 days before a baby is born between March and May. Initially, a baby has a pink face and black hair until after about three or four months before adult colouration is acquired. In their first week after birth, they cling to their mother's stomach, and after around three weeks, they start practicing independence; they move around and mingle with other baby monkeys.
They are typically vegetarians
Apart from the fact that they are omnivores, it is worth stressing that they feed more on fruits, flowers, leaves, and figs. Any young chicks and bird eggs that they find in any nest, they consume them. If they find themselves where maize is grown, they enjoy it as it is one of their favourite meals. Specifically, some of the natural food plants include:
- Euphorbia tirucalli – fruit
- Ficus abutilifolia – figs
- Ficus sur – figs
- Ficus sycomorus – figs
- Acacia erioloba – seeds and pods
- Aloe spp – nectar (flowers)
- Celtis africana – fruit
- Colophospermum mopane – seeds
- Deinbollia oblongifolia – fruit
- Euphorbia ingens – fruit
Vervet monkey adaptations
They thrive in grassland areas containing sparse forest and on the open savanna. Anywhere there is water, they can survive. Apart from that, they tend to do away with densely wooded areas in favour of tropical rain forests, montane forests, and lowland evergreen forests that have shrubs and trees. Then, their habitat's temperatures are 25 degrees F during the winter to 138 degrees F during the summer.
They are mostly found in extreme southern South Sudan, Somalia, Ethiopia and South Africa. It is easy for them to persist in highly fragmented vegetation, including cultivated areas as well as urban and rural environments. Apart from inhabiting the riverine woodland and savanna, they can also be found in mountains that are as high as 4,000 meters.
It is easy to identify the primates with their yellow to greenish-brown coat of hair, alongside their white bellies. They also have white fur on their brows and cheeks as well as black-skinned faces, feet, and hands.
READ ALSO: All snakes of South Africa: Poisonous and harmless 2019
Unique modes of communication
Another interesting fact about this species is how they communicate using visual and verbal modes when they are in a group. They use different alarm calls to pass specific messages. For instance, they make a short call when they sight a leopard, but if it is an eagle, one of them gives a series of short grunts.
Frequently asked questions
Several questions have been raised on this amazing creature. Here are answers to some of them.
How long does a vervet monkey live?
If they are in a wild environment, they can live up to 12 years, but if in captivity, their life can span up to 24 years.
Are vervet monkeys good pets?
People hunt vervet monkeys for their meat, while some people now trap them and sell them as pets, whereas monkeys, generally, are wild animals. As such, they are not suitable to be kept as pets. If they do not get the right food, they are likely to become sick. So, are vervet monkeys dangerous? Yes, they are. In fact, they can be very aggressive, and besides, they are messy, loud and also challenging to care for.
Is a vervet monkey endangered?
The specie is not endangered, except for the fact that it is gradually decreasing. When it ventures into urban environments, it stands the risk of being injured or killed. Because vervets raid for food crops sometimes, humans go after them.
How do vervet monkeys stay warm?
They become warm as they keep each other's company. So, by maintaining their social ties, no matter how cold it gets around them, they enjoy some level of warmth.
Vervet monkeys are a group of exciting species worth. Apart from some characteristic features that they possess, they have a unique way of storing food, which is through their cheek pouches, so they can consume their food later.
In a previous post, Briefly.co.za shared a list of some illegal pets in South Africa. Some of them include hedgehogs, marmosets, ferrets, and reptiles. You can also learn about how to get a wildlife permit in the country.
- Elephant virus could transfer to humans - experts warn the public
- Rare gorilla species believed to be extinct found in Nigerian forest
- Are rain spiders dangerous?