Patas Monkey Fact File


Due to their long legs the patas monkey has a lanky appearance. Adults have a reddish-brown crown which may become gray in adults. The back and flanks are covered with shaggy reddish fur with the underside being white or cream. The nose is black with one subspecies having a white spot on it. Most have a white patch of fur above the mouth which resembles a moustache but one subspecies has a black one. Their tail arches while they walk. A distinctive black line runs from the ear down the face.

At 7-13kg (15-29lb) a male patas monkey is almost twice as large as the 4-7kg (9-15lb) female. A male’s head and body measures 60-87.5cm (2-3ft) while females measure between 48 and 52cm (1.6-1.7ft). The tail adds 63-72cm (2-2.4ft) of length to a male and 48-55cm (1.6-1.8ft) to the female.


The Patas monkey is an omnivore. A large portion of their diet is the pods, seeds, gall, gum, flowers and young leaves which come from acacia trees. This is supplemented with grasses, berries, seeds and fruits. Most of the meat portion of their diet comes from insects such as crickets but they will supplement this with eggs, lizards and young birds.

Acacia gum is defended by ants. Patas monkeys will eat the gum and the ants while being attacked by the ants. When the bites become too painful they stop eating.

Patas monkey

Scientific Name

Erythocebus patas

Conservation Status

Least Concern



7-13kg (15-29lbs)


4-7kg (9-15lbs)



60-87.5cm (2-3ft)


48-52cm (1.6-1.7ft)


Wild 17 years

Captive 24 years



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Africa is the native home of the patas monkey. They range in a belt across Africa with the corners being at Sengal, Ivory Coast, Sudan and Kenya.

An introduced population of these monkeys exists in Puerto Rico.


They can be found in open grasslands, savannas, woodlands, moist forest and flooded deltas.


Mating season varies by region being either June to September or October to January. To find a partner a female will crouch in front of a male and exhale her cheek pouches. Outside of breeding this is also done. Both the male and the female may go on to mate with several other partners.

Late in the pregnancy the nose of all but the eastern patas’ monkey changes from black to white. 5 and ½ months after mating takes place a single infant is born. At birth they normally weigh 504g (1lb).

At birth they are dark brown or black with a pink face. For the first 7 months the infant is carried around by the mother. They begin to walk with mum after 3 months old.

26% of infants will not make it through their first year due to predation, infanticide, the death of their mother or kidnapping by other groups.

After about 3 years the male infants will begin to disperse and find their own territories or join an all-male group.

Sexually maturity is achieved by males at 5 years old while females can mate from 3 years old.


Predators of the patas monkey include leopards, domestic dogs, cheetahs, eagles, hyenas, jackals, martial eagles, olive baboon, chimpanzee, caracal, serval and African wild dog. Accidental death may also occur due to puff adder bite.

If confronted by baboons and dogs they will flee. Jackals and African wild cats are chased away by a group. Groups will gather to collectively mob leopards or encircle snakes.

Patas monkeys are diurnal. Most of their time is spent on the ground foraging. They set out in the early morning to go find food and will continue this till sunset. During the middle of the day they rest sometimes reclining in a tree. At night they find a tree where they can sleep for the night.

Groups of patas monkeys number from 8-71 with an average being 15. These groups may consist of all males or females led by a dominant male. Regular grooming takes place between females throughout the day. It is rare for males to participate.

This species frequently vocalizes but it is quite quiet. They can make a chirp, chutter, cough, grunt or squeal.

Quick facts

Their ability to reach speeds of up to 55km/hr (34mi/hr) makes them the world’s fastest primate.

Other names for the patas monkey include red monkey, military monkey, hussar monkey, Sergeant major monkey and dancing monkey.

Photo Credits


By Brocken Inaglory (Own work) [GFDL (, CC-BY-SA-3.0 ( or CC BY-SA 2.5-2.0-1.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons


By alex roberts from San Francisco, USA (Patas Monkey Jr) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons


Kingdon, J., Butynski, T.M. & De Jong, Y. 2008. Erythrocebus patas. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2008: e.T8073A12884516. Downloaded on 20 May 2020.

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