The appearance of patas monkeys contributes to the use of alternative names such as red guenons, Hussar monkeys, military monkeys, and dancing red monkeys.
Communication in all primate species is complex. Because these animals are social, it is likely that visual signals such as body postures and facial expressions play important roles in communication. Vocalizations have been recorded under many different circumstances. Physical contact, through grooming, aggression, and playing, are also important in primate communication. Although no specifically recorded for these monkeys, it is likely that some scent cues are used in reproduction.
Communication Channels: visual ; tactile ; acoustic ; chemical
Perception Channels: visual ; tactile ; acoustic ; chemical
The conservation of patas monkeys is critical because of their already small population size, limited geographic range and the current destruction of their habitats. Hunting by humans has increased progressively, especially in West Africa. In areas where hunting occurs, mortality from hunting may obscure biological interactions that otherwise limit populations. Hunters kill patas monkeys for meat in the Ivory Coast. The mountain Nuba people and tribal groups also hunt patas monkeys. Many farmers and plantation owners shoot these monkeys when they raid their crops. Patas monkeys are collected and sold as pets or they are sold to medical research institutions. Over 1000 patas monkeys are collected per year.
There are now eighteen national parks and eleven reserves in which patas monkeys can be found. Some measures have been made to limit the number exported from these national parks and reserves. In Cameroon, exportation requires a permit.
Habitat expansion of patas monkeys is also occurring in places such as Senegal and East Africa as a result of deforestation and drought, which create habitats similar to those preferred by patas monkeys.
US Federal List: no special status
CITES: appendix ii
IUCN Red List of Threatened Species: least concern
Patas monkeys frequently raid crops. During these raids, they steal millet, bannas, peanuts, wheat, and dates. In some areas in Sudan, they feed in pineapple plantations, and they also destroy cotton plants by eating the flowers.
Negative Impacts: crop pest
Patas monkeys are sometimes hunted for meat. They are sold in the pet trade, and they sometimes play a role in medical research.
Positive Impacts: pet trade ; food ; research and education
As fruit eaters, it is likely that patas monkeys help to disperse seeds. As predators, they may influence populations of the species upon which they prey. They may also have some positive impact on populations of organisms which prey upon them. They may have some roles in competing with other terrestrial primates of the savanna.
Patas monkeys are omnivorous. The diet consists mainly of fruits and insects but also includes leaves, roots, and bird eggs. They have also been found to subsist on either animal or vegetable substances.
Animal Foods: eggs; insects; terrestrial non-insect arthropods
Plant Foods: leaves; roots and tubers; fruit; flowers
Primary Diet: omnivore
Patas monkeys (Erythrocebus patas) live only in Africa. The species has a wide distribution across subSaharan Africa from the western tip of Senegal to East Africa. Patas monkeys occur as far south as Cameroon.
Biogeographic Regions: ethiopian (Native )
Patas monkeys are found in open country. They live mainly in savanna and woodland habitats since they are predominantly terrestrial. They are typically found in grass savanna, dry and dense woodlands with tall grass, and on grass steppe with thicket clumps. They can tolerate arid conditions, and some of them have been found close to the southern edge of the Sahara desert. However, there are a few exceptions. Some individuals have been seen in moist woodlands. Deforestation has caused these monkeys to be found in man-made clearings in the forest. Finally, they have also been seen in the zone of flooding in the delta of the Senegal River. An area such as the Senegal River does provide the necessary amount of water for patas monkeys to survive. In the drier areas in which patas monkeys typically live, water can be a limiting factor. Patas monkeys avoid areas with dense cover, perhaps due to exposure to predators. The population density of patas monkeys is approximatley 1.5 individuals per km2.
Habitat Regions: tropical ; terrestrial
Terrestrial Biomes: savanna or grassland ; forest
Other Habitat Features: riparian
Captive lifespan may reach as much as 24 years. It is likely that the lifespan in wild populations is lower than this.
Status: captivity: 24 (high) years.
Status: wild: 21.0 years.
Status: captivity: 21.6 years.
Status: captivity: 21.7 years.
Status: captivity: 23.9 years.
Patas monkeys have a shaggy, reddish-colored coat. these monkeys have a greyhound-like build.) The ventrum is white, as are legs and feet. Patas monkeys have whiskers on thes chin and a white moustache.
They have a narrow body, long legs for quadrupedal locomotion, and a prominent rib cage. (Some authors have noted that The eyes are directed forward for binocular vision. incisors are spatulate, canines conspicuous, and molars are bilophodont. The dental formula is 2/2,1/1,2/2,3/3=32. The nostrils are narrow, close together, and pointed downward (catarrhine).
The body is about 50 to 70 cm, with the reddish-colored tail adding about the same amount to the total length. Weights range between 7 and 13 kg.
Sexual dimorphism is present. The midfacial region (skull) of the male patas monkey is hypertrophied compared to females. Overall body size of males tends to be larger than females due to prolonged and accelerated growth.
Range mass: 7 to 13 kg.
Range length: 50 to 70 cm.
Other Physical Features: endothermic ; homoiothermic; bilateral symmetry
Sexual Dimorphism: male larger
Average basal metabolic rate: 5.958 W.
Details on predation of this species are not available, so no predators are "known". However, it is likely that patas monkeys fall victim to the standard predators of the subsaharan African savanna: lions, cheetah, African hunting dogs, jackels, brown hyenas, spotted hyenas, snakes, and raptors.
Males transfer between groups when sexual maturity is attained. They wait for females to approach them to begin mating. Males may have offspring with more than one female. The usual mating system is "harem" polygyny. However, it has been observed that extragroup males may join a group temporarily during a breeding season.
In "harem" groups, there is one male who reproduces with several females. Evidence for polygyny has been the fact that most groups contain only one adult male, and most males attempt to chase and threaten foreign males. Competiton among males for reproductive females is intense in polygynous species such as patas monkeys because of the differences in reproductive success between resident and exragroup males.
Promiscuous (polygynandrous) mating can happen among patas monkeys. Promiscuous events have been observed in which several males, from two to nineteen, joined a group during a breeding season. During these events, both males and females copulated and both were promiscuous.
Mating System: polygynous ; polygynandrous (promiscuous)
Timing of reproduction seems to vary somewhat with geography. Mating in some populations takes place in June through September, and young are born between November and January. The age of sexual maturity is 4 to 4.5 years old in males and 3 years in females. Females can produce offspring annually, and they have short interbirth intervals. This interval may be less than twelve months.
The gestation period of patas monkeys has been estimated at 170 days. However, it is difficult to know the exact gestation period because the females show no external signs of estrus. Also, females in captivity can go through postconception estrus. Therefore, it is difficult to reliably estimate gestation periods in wild patas monkeys based on captive specimans.
Females give birth to a single young. Although data are lacking for this species, it is likely that the nursing period extends for several months, based upon that seen in other, similar-sized guenons.
Breeding interval: Patas monkeys are annual breeders, and they have short interbirth intervals
Breeding season: Breeding is typically seasonal, with most births occurring between December and January.
Average number of offspring: 1.
Average gestation period: 170 days.
Average age at sexual or reproductive maturity (female): 3 years.
Range age at sexual or reproductive maturity (male): 4 to 4.5 years.
Key Reproductive Features: iteroparous ; seasonal breeding ; gonochoric/gonochoristic/dioecious (sexes separate); sexual ; fertilization ; viviparous
Average birth mass: 504.5 g.
Average gestation period: 167 days.
Average number of offspring: 1.
Average age at sexual or reproductive maturity (female)
Sex: female: 956 days.
Female patas monkeys nurse and care for their young until they become independent. Female offspring remain in their natal group and associate with their mothers their entire lives.
Parental Investment: pre-fertilization (Provisioning, Protecting: Female); pre-hatching/birth (Provisioning: Female, Protecting: Female); pre-weaning/fledging (Provisioning: Female, Protecting: Female); pre-independence (Provisioning: Female, Protecting: Female); post-independence association with parents; extended period of juvenile learning
There is some confusion surrounding if there are valid subspecies, with some listing four, others three, and others listing two: the western Erythrocebus patas patas (with a black nose) and the eastern E. patas pyrrhonotus (with a white nose). However, it was later discovered that the nose colour used to separate these subspecies could change to white during pregnancy in females, as well as in general as animals aged, and E. patas pyrrhonotus in Kenya often did not have white noses, thus Mammal Species of the World has classified E. patas as a monotypic species.
The genus status of the species has previously been in flux. Colin Groves first argued the species was closely related to Cercopithecus aethiops in 1989, based on anatomical morphology. Phylogenetic evidence from 2003 appeared to validate him, finding the patas monkey to form a clade within the vervet genus Cercopithecus together with C. aethiops and C. lhoesti, and based on this study Erythrocebus was proposed to be sunk into synonymy with Cercopithecus. However, more recent studies haave found this interpretation of Cercopithecus to be paraphyletic, and thus many species in Cercopithecus have since been reclassified to numerous new genera and species, with C. aethiops moved to Chlorocebus and C. lhoesti to Allochrocebus. Erythrocebus is thus now thought to be a distinct genus.
Erythrocebus was previously thought to be a monotypic genus containing only E. patas. However, a 2017 study proposed splitting E. patas into three species (E. patas sensu stricto, E. poliphaeus, and E. baumstarki) based on morphological differences and heavy geographic separation between taxa, with the IUCN Red List and American Society of Mammalogists following through with this.
The male common patas monkey grows to 60 cm (24 in) to 87 cm (34 in) in length, excluding the tail, which measures 75 cm (30 in). Adult males are considerably larger than adult females, which average 49 cm (19 in) in length. Adult males average 12.4 kg (27.3 lb) and adult females 6.5 kg (14.3 lb), showing a high degree of sexual dimorphism. Reaching speeds of 55 km/h (34 mph), it is the fastest runner among the primates.
The life span in the wild can be up to about 20 years.
The common patas monkey lives in multi-female groups of up to 60 individuals (although much larger aggregations have been reported). The group contains just one adult male for most of the year. During the breeding season, there are multi-male influxes into the group. Once juvenile males reach sexual maturity (around the age of four years) they leave the group, usually joining all-male groups. The adult females in the group initiate movement of the group with the male following their lead.
Variation in the female social structure of patas monkeys has been observed across different populations. This variation may be dependent on food resources, as conflict between individuals is often a result of competition for limited resources. Higher rates of conflict over dense, but limited, food, such as fruit bushes, is associated with more stable, well defined dominance hierarchies than habitats with more diffuse resources, such as insects. Variation in the availability of these resources has been associated with variation in dominance hierarchies among females.
Conflict among females has also shown the presence of recognition among matrilineal relatives. It has been observed that, shortly after conflicts among two females, patas monkeys often act differently toward each other than if they had not been in conflict. Females often reconcile with each other by activities such as sitting together and grooming. While this reconciliatory behavior is observed even between unrelated individuals, it is most common among matrilineal relatives. Dominance structure has relatively little effect on the probability of reconciliation occurring, except that the alpha-female is the least reconciliatory of the females. Affiliation toward matrilineal relatives is common in other primates as well, such as vervet monkeys.
Mating in common patas monkeys is seasonal and occurs during the wet season. During periods when females are not receptive, relatively stable groups with one adult resident male and several females are the norm. This leaves an excess of males that either form all male groups or live on their own. During the mating season, resident males may be chased away by invading solitary males. This usually results in the formation of multi-male, multi-female groups shortly thereafter, as more males invade a group. The new resident male does not chase away subordinate invading males, but rather focuses on mating with females. At the end of the mating season, one-male, multi-female groups stabilize. One male remains as the resident male and chases other males away. In some instances, submissive males are tolerated by the resident male for short periods of time; however, they rarely remain in the group for more than several days.
Young males have been observed to leave their natal groups anywhere from two to four years of age. However, one study showed that most juveniles left before they were three, which is before most males reach sexual maturity. This contrasts with an earlier study in which juveniles were observed to leave later, at sexual maturity, indicating that there may be variation between groups. The reason young males leave their natal group is also contested. Dominant males have been observed to act aggressively toward younger males in captivity. However, observations of wild patas monkeys has shown young males leaving the group in which they were born without any aggressive behavior from the adult male. The juveniles, in the time shortly before they leave, spend increasingly less and less time with the adult females in the group. However, juvenile males do not change the amount of time they spend near the adult male. This may indicate weakening of matrilineal ties, rather than male aggression, as the main reason juveniles disperse from their natal group.
Common patas monkeys have several distinct alarm calls that warn members in the group of predators. Different alarm calls are given by different group members (i.e. adult females, adult males, juveniles, etc.) and certain alarm calls are distinctive of different types of predators. Unlike other primates, patas monkeys rarely take refuge from predators in trees. This is most likely due to the relatively sparse tree cover in patas monkey habitats. While patas monkeys usually run on the ground away from predators, individuals have been observed to attack predators such as jackals and wildcats. This behavior has been observed in both males and females.