Hamadryas Baboon Fact File
Male hamadryas baboons are larger than females and noticeable due to the cape of silvery fur extending from either side of their pink face. This face has a dog like muzzle.
The eyes are located close together and this increases depth perception helping them to spot predators.
Males have a large pink rump which looks swollen. The female is also pink on the rear though the swelling is less pronounced. On the rear they have noticeable ischial callosities which are pads that make sitting for long periods comfortable.
The rest of the body for both males and females is covered with brown or light grey fur. The face of a female is hairless and colored black or brown.
Their tail is relatively short for their size and is not prehensile. It ends with a tuft of fur and is colored the same as the body along its length. An average tail length is between 35 and 61cm (13.8 and 24in) long.
Adult male hamadryas baboon can be as much as twice the size of female. The body length of a male is 49-64cm (1.6-2.1ft) while females measure 49-54cm (1.6-1.8ft).
A males weight can be between 20 and 30kg (44 and 66lbs) compared to 10-15kg (22-33lbs) for females.
Hamadryas baboons are omnivorous. Their varied diet is mostly made of plant matter which may include grass, roots, fruits, tubers and seeds. This is supplemented with some insects, bird eggs, carrion and small animals.
The regions they inhabit are dry and as such they can exist on a poor diet for long periods of time. Diet is highly variable across regions.
Wild 20 years
Captive 30 years
Record 37.5 years
Africa and Asia is the native home of the hamadryas baboon. Here they can be found throughout Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen.
They were previously found in Egypt but are now considered extinct in this country.
They make their home in subdeserts, steppes, alpine grass meadow, arid bushland and savannas. Most of their time is spent on cliffs rather than up in trees like most monkey’s. Suitable habitat for the hamadryas baboon needs to be near water.
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Hamadryas baboons form a group with a dominant male and a number of females. The dominant male will mate with all of the females in their group. Females typically breed once every two years.
Following a successful mating the female will be pregnant for 160 days before giving birth to a single infant. They start their life by clinging to their mothers fur for the first 3 weeks.
At birth the infants have pink skin and dark colored fur. They will weigh 0.59 to 0.91 kg (1.3 to 2 pounds). By a year old this hair will have lightened to their adult coloration.
Females are the primary caregiver for the infants though males do play with the young and help protect them from threats.
Other baboons may kidnap the infants of their rivals.
Weaning takes place at 6 years old.
Between four and six years old a male infant will leave his family and go off to find a group of females to establish his own family. Females leave between four and five years to join a males group. Females may move between family groups throughout their life if the dominant male in their current one changes.
If the dominant male in their group changes females appear sexually receptive and mate with the new male though they are not fertile. It is thought that this helps protect their current young.
On occasion males may remain in their natal group and have leadership of the group handed down to them by their father.
Hamadryas baboons live in a family group known as a one male unit (OMU). This group consists of a single dominant male and up to 10 females. Males are incredibly protective of the females in their harem.
One way males may begin an OMU is to steal a female infant from her mother and finish raising it.
A number of OMUs will come together to form a clan or band which may number up to 100 individuals. These groups move together.
They are active during the day. Their morning is spent with the clan grooming and playing. The OMUs will then separate off to go forage for food and they then return to the cliffs where the clan will gather to sleep.
They communicate with other hamadyras baboons through calls, scents and gestures.
Staring is considered a threat behavior in the hamadryas baboon society. They will also yawn in an attempt to intimidate threats. This yawn shows off their large canine teeth.
Predators and Threats
The hamadryas baboon has actually benefited from human expansion in their habitat. Their number is increasing and it is thought that this is due to a decrease in predators.
Previously they were removed in large numbers from their habitat for use in scientific research.
Males may be hunted to turn their skin in to ceremonial capes.
They are also known as the sacred, mantled or Arabian baboon.
The hamadryas baboon was considered sacred by the ancient Egyptians and they sometimes mummified them.
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