Vervet Monkey

Vervet Monkey

The Vervet Monkey, sometimes simply known as the Vervet, is the common name of the species Chlorocebus pygerythrus, an Old World monkey in the family Cercopithecidae. (The common term "vervet" is also sometimes used to refer to all the members of the genus Chlorocebus.)

The Vervet Monkey ranges throughout much of Southern and East Africa, being found from Ethiopia and Somalia south to South Africa. It is not found west of the Great Rift Valley or Luangwa River, where replaced by the closely related Malbrouck (C. cynosuros). The two have often been considered conspecific, or considered subspecies of a widespread C. aethiops. The Vervet Monkey inhabits savanna lands and mountains up to 4,000 m (13,100 ft).


Males vary in size from 45 to 85 cm (18-34 in), and weigh between 3.5 to 7.5 kg (7.5-16.5 lb), while females, range from 40 to 60 cm (16-24 in) in size and between 2.5 to 5.5 kg (5.5-12 lb) in weight. Both have tail lengths that can vary from 50 to 115 cm. The pigmentation of the male Vervet Monkey's scrotum is a vivid blue that pales when the animal falls in social rank. The hydration of the scrotal skin controls its color.


The Vervet Monkey is mainly frugivorous, but it also supplements its diet with a variety of other foods, including leaves, seeds, insects and small rodents. It has been known to destroy crops in Kenya, and was classified as a vermin in South Africa, allowing it to be shot without previously obtaining a permit, up until 2003.

It commonly lives in groups or "troops" of 20 or more, however the size of the group is often smaller than 20. Its gestation period is 7 months with a single offspring produced and is known to have a life span of up to 20 years.

One interesting phenomenon about the Vervet Monkey is that it seems to possess what has been called the "rudiments of language". Vervet Monkey alarm calls vary greatly depending on the different types of threats to the community. There are distinct calls to warn of invading leopards, snakes, and eagles. In doing so they attract attention to themselves, increasing their personal chance of being attacked, this has been noted as altruistic behaviour.


There are five distinct subspecies of Vervet Monkeys:

  • Chlorocebus pygerythrus hilgerti
  • Chlorocebus pygerythrus excubitor
  • Chlorocebus pygerythrus nesiotes
  • Chlorocebus pygerythrus rufoviridis
  • Chlorocebus pygerythrus pygerythrus

In ancient history

This species was known in ancient Egypt including the Red Sea Mountains and the Nile Valley. From fresco artworks found in Akrotiri on the Mediterranean island of Santorini there is evidence that the Vervet Monkey was known to the inhabitants of this settlement around 2000 BC; this fact is most noted for evidence of early contact between Egypt and Akrotiri.


External links

it: Chlorocebus pygerythrus

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