The mandrill is the world’s largest species of monkey. They are easily recognisable due to the bright colouring of the male. These primates have the largest sexual dimorphism of any primate.
Males measure 75-95cm (30-37in) and females may be 55-66cm (22-26in) in length. The tail adds an extra 5-10cm to the length of both. From the floor to their shoulders females measure 45-50cm (18-20in) and males 55-65cm (22-26in). Males weigh 19-37kg (42-82lb) while the females are half their size at 10-15kg (22-33lb). The males have large canines measuring up to 4.5cm (1.8in) in length. The females are much smaller generally being about 1cm (0.4in).
The mandrill has fur that is olive green, black or grey. The fur on the belly is white. They have a red and blue nose with yellow fur around the chin region. The rump is coloured red, pink, blue, scarlet and purple.
The mandrill is an omnivore. They will forage for berries, nuts, fruit, mushrooms, bark and seeds. They will also hunt small animals including young antelope, insects, birds, tortoises, porcupines, rats and shrews.
Africa is the native home of the mandrill. Here they can be found throughout Nigeria, Cameroon, Gabon, Congo and Equatorial Guniea.
Mandrills can be found in equatorial rainforests, rocky forests, savanna-rainforest mosaics, flooded forests, cultivated areas, riparian forests and occasionally grasslands.
Wild 19 years
Captive 30 years
The mandrill breeding season is from June to October. The female will breed every 2 years.
Males enter the horde of mandrills for the breeding season and follow a female who is in oestrous. Dominant males are the only ones who breed. They are brightly coloured and have larger fat reserves. There is one dominant male for every 1 subordinate female.
The gestation period for the mandrill is 179 to 182 days. Babies are born between January and March.
Normally there is one young though twins will be born some times. The young are covered with pink skin and a black natal coating. The baby will lose this coat by 2 months of age. The females in the group will assist in caring for the baby.
Young mandrills stay with their mother until the next baby is born. A male will leave the group at six years of age and will stay along the boundary of the group’s territory.
The mandrill is hunted by leopards, African Rock Pythons, humans and Crowned Eagles.
Mandrills live in groups known as troops or hordes. These groups are generally made up of a dominant male and a number of females with their off spring. Some of these groups are incredibly large. The largest group recorded of 1,200 was the largest number of non-human primates ever found living together.
While these animals are found mainly on the ground they can move up into the trees and select one to sleep in each night.
When hunting these animals have pouches in their cheeks which can be used to store food for consumption later.
Mandrills will roar, growl and grunt to communicate over long distances. At shorter distances they communicate using yaks, grunts and screams.
Some people in Africa eat mandrill meat
It was once thought the mandrills were related to baboons but it is now known this is not correct.
“Mandril” by Malene Thyssen – Own work. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 via Wikimedia Commons – http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Mandril.jpg#mediaviewer/File:Mandril.jpg
“Mandrill area” by Chermundy – Base map derived from File:BlankMap-World.png. Distribution data from IUCN Red List. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons – http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Mandrill_area.png#mediaviewer/File:Mandrill_area.png
“Mandrill at Singapore Zoo” by Robert Young – originally posted to Flickr as Mandrill baboon. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons – http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Mandrill_at_Singapore_Zoo.jpg#mediaviewer/File:Mandrill_at_Singapore_Zoo.jpg
Abernethy, K. & Maisels, F. 2019. Mandrillus sphinx. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2019: e.T12754A17952325. https://dx.doi.org/10.2305/IUCN.UK.2019-3.RLTS.T12754A17952325.en. Downloaded on 17 May 2020.
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