Vervet Monkey (Cercopithecus aethiops)


Family:                    Cercopithecidae.

Status:                     No special status.

Size:                        Height 18 to 24 inches; weight 7 to 10 lbs.

Diet:                        Omnivore.

Characteristics:        Social, lively.

Area:                       Africa.

Offspring:                One.

Predators:               Eagle, python, baboon, leopard, caracal, serval and crocodile.



·       Vervet monkeys are good swimmers and can even dive into water.

·       Like cats, vervets scent-mark their territories with facial gland secretions. 

·       Up to 1500 monkeys are taken at one time for medical research.

·       Another name for the vervet monkey is the Ethiopian grivet.


Vervet monkeys are extremely sociable monkeys who live in groups of 10 to 25 animals, with equal members of both genders. They’re active by day and spend most of their time in trees, eating, sleeping and travelling from branch to branch. When two vervets approach each other, they touch noses in greeting and then either play together or groom each other. They have 36 different vocalisations, including calls to identify predators to the other members of the group. They also have a variety of facial expressions used to communicate with each other. Vervets eat seeds, leaves, flowers, bark, bulbs, fruit, roots, insects, eggs, farm crops and sometimes small mammals. Because of the moisture in the plants they eat, vervets rarely need to drink water. Adults have black faces, hands and feet and amber eyes. Their fur colouring differs, but most have golden backs, white undersides, and gray arms and legs. Their tails are long and held upright when running over the ground.



Vervets live south of the Sahara in eastern and southern Africa, from Senegal to Somalia, including Ethiopia. They’re very adaptable monkeys who sometimes settle in areas inhabited by people. They usually live in woodland near rivers and lakes.



Vervet monkeys give birth six months after conception, usually to one baby but in rare cases, to twins. The mother immediately begins to groom her baby when it is born. The baby is born fully furred, with a pink face and open eyes. The baby begins to nurse within 30 minutes and clings to its mother’s stomach for the first week. At three weeks of age, it will become more independent and begin to play with other youngsters, chasing, wrestling and pushing each other. The bond between a mother and baby is very strong, and mothers are very protective, not letting their babies out of their sight for the first few months. Some mothers will not even allow other females to hold her baby until it is several months old. Her other young daughters eventually are allowed to take care of and hold the baby, and this is considered a great privilege. At two months, the baby begins to eat solid food and sometime between six months to a year, will be slowly weaned. By that time, they’ll have taken on more adult colouring. Females stay in the same group with their mothers for life, while males will leave sometime around the age of five, when they reach adolescence, to avoid inbreeding. Vervet monkeys live approximately 12 years in the wild and up to 24 years in captivity.