Patas Monkey

10th July 2010

A general overview

Although patas monkeys are not listed as an endangered or threatened species, the same cannot be said for other old world monkeys. At least 27 other species of monkeys in the family Cercopithecidae are listed as endangered. Additionally, humans frequently hunt Patas Monkeys for their meat or they are killed because they are sometimes considered pests (Patas Monkeys may raid cultivated crops). Furthermore, heavy cattle grazing and the conversion of savanna areas into farmland have reduced available habitat for Patas Monkeys.


Classification & Range:

They range from Senegal to Ethiopia and south to Tanzania. Patas Monkeys are also called Red Guenons and the Dancing Red Monkey, and are old world monkeys belonging to the family Cercopithecidae. This family includes 18 genera with 81 species, all found in Africa. The Patas Monkey is the only species found in the genus Erythrocebus.

Habitat & social life:

Groups of Patas Monkeys typically range from 9 to 30 individuals with groups of as large as 200 reported. These tremendous numbers are most likely only separate troops forced into proximity around water holes in the worst of the dry season. They are primarily ground-dwelling primates and are often found in open bush and grass savanna regions. They also live in woodland savannas but avoid densely wooded areas


Physical Characteristics:

Patas Monkeys have an approximate head and body length of 24–35 inches (61–89 cm); and the males are usually larger than females. Their tail is 20–30 inches (51–76 cm) in length. Males weigh 15–29 pounds (6.8–13.2 kg), while females weigh less, from 9–15 pounds (4.1–6.8 kg).


Life Span:

15 to 20 years in the wild.



In the wild Patas are omnivores but are especially dependent on the pods, seeds, gall, young leaves, gum and flowers of acadia trees. They also eat grasses, berries, seeds, fruits, insects, eggs, lizards and young birds.



Females Patas Monkeys reach sexual maturity at about 2.5 years of age. Males are sexually mature at 3.5-4.5 years. The female Patas Monkey has a gestation period which lasts for approximately 167 days. Females give birth to one infant that stays with its mother for 3 months. Females have a strict dominance structure that is rarely challenged. Mothers cooperate and share child-raising activities.


Life Cycle:

A Patas troop generally has only one adult male and four to 10 females. Other Patas males either live alone or in bachelor groups. The highest-ranking female is in charge of the troop, not the male. The male Patas Monkey spends much of his time perched high in trees or rock outcroppings, on the lookout for predators and other dangers.



Primary predators of patas monkeys include leopards, cheetahs, eagles, hyenas and jackals. If a predator approaches, the ever-watchful male Patas creates a diversionary display. Bouncing noisily on bushes or trees, he draws attention to himself and away from the females and young. Patas Monkeys are well adapted for this life on the ground. Although they can climb trees, they tend to do so only at night or when looking out for predators. As night approaches, the troop separates and each monkey goes to a separate tree. Females go to a tree with their infant.


This gives the rest of the troop time to silently flee or to hide in the long grass. Additionally, the coloration of Patas enables them to use their savanna surroundings as camouflage. They are reddish-brown, mixed with gray on the upper sides of their body for better camouflage in savanna grasses. The undersides of their bodies range from white or gray to pinkish. Adult males have long, mane-like hair around their nape and shoulders, and they have a white mustache.

Unfortunately Patas Monkeys are often hunted for their meat. The bushmeat trade is a growing threat to primates and other animals living in Africa. A rising urban population and logging industry threaten to increase the market for bushmeat.


General information:

Many species of primates live in African tropical forests. However, only three types of monkeys still inhabit the African savanna: Patas Monkeys, Vervet Monkeys and four species of Baboons.

All savanna primates are primarily diurnal and terrestrial.


Special adaptions:

Patas Monkeys are adept runners and can reach speeds of 30 to 35 miles per hour. Because they are so fast and agile, Patas Monkeys rarely stand and fight when threatened by a predator. Instead, they depend on their speed to help them escape.



Although generally quiet, Patas Monkeys will bark upon meeting another troop.

Did you know?

*Male Patas Monkeys have proportionally the longest canines of any primate.


*When relaxed, Patas Monkeys lean back and put up their feet (does this remind you of what you do when you relax?)


*The French name for the Patas Monkey is Singe rouge ou patas


* The patas monkey is the fastest primate on the planet. In fact they are often called primate cheetahs, the Patas is built like a cheetah or greyhound - from a distance, a running Patas Monkey is easily mistaken for a cheetah.


*Patas Monkeys can store so much food in their cheeks that it is equivalent to the size of their stomachs.


*The word "Monkey": "Monkey" is of unknown derivation, but it may come from the old German story of "Reynard the Fox," in which the ape's son was named "Moneke." "Patas" is an African word for "tailless."


* Unfortunately for the Patas Monkey the Teso natives believe the flesh of the Patas can cure leprosy. About 1,000 Patas a year are also trapped for the pet trade and medical research. They are also threatened by the conversion of their savannah habitats into farmland. They are vulnerable because there are so few Patas left in the wild, and they actually have a limited range.