Vervet monkeys (Chlorocebus aethiops) are found from Senegal to Ethiopia and south to South Africa. These monkeys are found in northeast Africa from the Red Sea near Tokar, south through Abyssinia as far as 5 degrees north, and west to the eastern range of the Tantalus. (Hill,1965)
Biogeographic Regions: ethiopian (Native )
Chlorocebus aethiops is usually around 400 to 600 mm in length (head and body), with tales about 300 to 500 mm. weights typically range between 3 and 5 kg. Males are larger than females. All individuals have close-fitting moderate length hairs over most of the body, and elongated side-whiskers. The whiskers are usually a lighter color (white or pale yellow) and differ in length from individual to individual. The faces of vervet monkeys are usually sooty black. A defining characteristic of this species is the greenish color of the upper parts of the face, which is caused by the banding together of individual hairs with black and yellow strands. In males, the scrotum and surrounding areas are bright blue or a greenish color. (Hill, 1965; Parker, 1983)
Range mass: 3 to 5 kg.
Range length: 400 to 600 mm.
Other Physical Features: endothermic ; homoiothermic; bilateral symmetry
Sexual Dimorphism: male larger
Habitat and Ecology
Bush steppe country in tablelands of the Southern Sudan and Abyssinia. Vervets must drink water daily in the dry seasons, and therefore their habitat is limited to those near constant water supplies. (Hill, 1965)
Habitat Regions: tropical ; terrestrial
Terrestrial Biomes: savanna or grassland ; scrub forest
Chlorocebus aethiops is omnivorous but with a heavy emphasis on fruit. Their diets often Include insects, vegetable matter, and at times, small mammals and birds. (Harris, 1970)
Animal Foods: birds; mammals; insects
Plant Foods: leaves; fruit
Primary Diet: omnivore
As frugivorous monkeys, vervets may play some role in seed dispersal. Because they sometimes prey on other animals, they may act as a check on populations of certain insects, birds, and small mammals. As a prey species, they are likely to impact predator populations.
Ecosystem Impact: disperses seeds
Vervet monkeys fall prey to leopards, snakes and raptors, as do other savanah monkeys. They may also be preyed upon by baboons.
Life History and Behavior
Perception Channels: tactile ; chemical
Status: captivity: 31.6 years.
Status: wild: 31.0 years.
Status: captivity: 23.0 years.
Status: wild: 30.0 years.
Lifespan, longevity, and ageing
Females typically have few mates in their lifetime, whereas some males have numerous mates. (Sellers)
Mating System: polygynous
Little is known about the reproductive habits of C. aethiops; however, like most primates, they are cyclically receptive. Visual changes in the vulva of females, such as swelling, alert the males as to when the females are in heat.
Key Reproductive Features: gonochoric/gonochoristic/dioecious (sexes separate); sexual ; viviparous
Average birth mass: 314 g.
Average gestation period: 162 days.
Average number of offspring: 1.
Average age at sexual or reproductive maturity (male)
Sex: male: 1825 days.
Average age at sexual or reproductive maturity (female)
Sex: female: 1034 days.
Females take a strong interest in raising their young. Within the social groups, other females often share this task with the mother.
Parental Investment: pre-fertilization (Provisioning, Protecting: Female); pre-hatching/birth (Provisioning: Female, Protecting: Female); pre-weaning/fledging (Provisioning: Female, Protecting: Female); extended period of juvenile learning
Molecular Biology and Genetics
Barcode data: Chlorocebus aethiops
Below is a sequence of the barcode region Cytochrome oxidase subunit 1 (COI or COX1) from a member of the species.
See the BOLD taxonomy browser for more complete information about this specimen and other sequences.
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Download FASTA File
Statistics of barcoding coverage: Chlorocebus aethiops
Public Records: 2
Specimens with Barcodes: 8
Species With Barcodes: 1
Barcode data: Cercopithecus aethiops
Below is the sequence of the barcode region Cytochrome oxidase subunit 1 (COI or COX1) from a member of the species.
See the BOLD taxonomy browser for more complete information about this specimen.
Other sequences that do not yet meet barcode criteria may also be available.
-- end --
Download FASTA File
Statistics of barcoding coverage: Cercopithecus aethiops
Public Records: 1
Specimens with Barcodes: 9
Species With Barcodes: 1
IUCN Red List Assessment
Red List Category
Red List Criteria
- 2000Lower Risk/least concern (LR/lc)
- 1996Lower Risk/least concern (LR/lc)
- 1988Not Threatened (nt)
Chlorocebus aethiops is being threatened by continous deforestation and and destruction of their natural habitat. CITES Appendix 2. (Parker, 1983)
US Federal List: no special status
CITES: appendix ii
IUCN Red List of Threatened Species: least concern
Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems
Chlorocebus aethiops is separated evolutionarily from humans by more than 50 million years. Their resemblance to Homo sapiens, however, in characteristics such as the nervous system, reproduction systems, and suceptibility to certain parasites make them especially desireable for biological studies. (Harris, 1970)
Positive Impacts: research and education
The grivet (Chlorocebus aethiops), also known as African green monkey and savanah monkey is an Old World monkey with long white tufts of hair along the sides of the face. Some authorities consider this and all of the members of the genus Chlorocebus to be a single species, Cercopithecus aethiops. As here defined, the grivet is restricted to Ethiopia, Sudan, Djibouti and Eritrea. In the southern part of its range, it comes into contact with the closely related vervet monkey (C. pygerythrus) and Bale Mountains vervet (C. djamdjamensis). Hybridization between them is possible, and may present a threat to the vulnerable Bale Mountains vervet. Unlike that species, the grivet is common and rated as Least Concern by the IUCN.
The grivet's facial skin, hands, and feet are black. The face has a white line above the eyes. It has long white whiskers on the cheeks. The fur on the back has an olive color, while the front is white fur. The skin on the stomach has a blue tint. The fur has a bristly feel. The approximate head and body length for males is 49 cm (19 in) for males 42.6 cm (16.8 in) for females. The length of the tail for males is approximately 30–50 cm (12–20 in). The body mass ranges from 3.4 to 8.0 kg (7.5 to 17.6 lb) with females at the smaller end of the scale.
Habitat and distribution
The main habitat of the grivet is savanna woodlands. Its range is Sudan east of the White Nile, Eritrea, and Ethiopia east to the Rift Valley. It is also found in Djibouti and Eritrea. The grivet needs to live around a source of water, especially during the dry season. It is able to adapt to many environments.
The grivet is most active in the morning and in early evening. It stays on the ground most of the day to eat and at night it sleeps in trees. The grivet spends a lot of time grooming, playing, climbing, and play fighting; all of these things help to ensure its survival. Its eating habits consist of eating mostly fruits, vegetables, and sometimes small mammals, insects, and birds, making it an omnivore. It will also scavenge for human food. It must drink water daily, especially in the dry seasons. It is one of few species that has multiple-male groups that are of moderate size. In the hierarchy of males, an individual shows its dominance by putting its tail in a stiff upright position and strolling past lower-ranked males. They travel in packs and usually move on all fours or quadrupedally, except when using both hands for carrying, when they manage to walk and run quite comfortably on two legs. Groups can range from five to over 70.
Females will have a limited number of mates, while males will have numerous. Swelling of the female's vulva alerts males as to when the female is in heat. Giving birth to one baby at a time is common and the pregnancy usually lasts two to three months. When the baby is born the mother will clean the infant and bite off the umbilical cord. Young have pink faces and black hair. It will take around two months for them to get their adult coats. The first few months, the infant will stay very close to its mother, but after six months, the infant is weaned.
The grivet is occasionally hunted as bushmeat. They are killed for either commercial or subsistence purposes. Although not endangered, it is threatened through destruction of habitat by way of disappearing forests. It is preyed on by large snakes, leopards, humans and sometimes baboons. The grivet may live for 13 years.
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