INTRODUCTION TO VERVET MONKEYS
The Vervet monkey is a member of the guenon family of monkeys, one of the most common and widely spread in Africa . Characteristics of guenons are their long arms, legs, and tails; small, round heads; and short faces with whiskers. Specific characteristics of the Vervet are its black face, black feet, and black tipped tail; mottled grey fur with white fur on its belly; pale blue skin, and bright blue scrota on the males.
Vervets are found throughout Africa, from Senegal to Sudan and all the way to the southern tip of Africa. They are adapted to practically all wooded habitats except for rain forest and their preferred habitat is Acacia tree woodland along lakes, rivers and streams. Vervets primarily dwell on the ground but take shelter from predators and sleep in trees. They are relatively slow runners and therefore cannot afford to travel far from the safety of trees.
Vervets organize themselves into complex, but very stable family groups commonly referred to as “troops.” Troops are organized around an alpha male who acts as leader of the group, several smaller groups of closely related adult females and their offspring, and lesser adult males. Males leave their home troop at adolescence and transfer from troop to troop throughout their life. Within the troops there is a clear order of dominance and rank maintained by threats and skill.
Vervets mate throughout the year, but the majority of babies are born in November and December, just before the rainy season. Females take great interest in their young and care for them thoroughly and delicately. Care for the young is often shared with other juvenile females.
Vervets communicate with each other by staring and by a variety of calls. Staring communicates a show of dominance or threat. Their calls consist of a variety of creaking cries and staccato barks.