Patas Monkey (Erythrocebus patas)

This species has cheek pouches to carry food in while it forages. The average body mass for adult male patas monkeys is around 12 kilograms, and for the females it is around 6 kilograms; this is a highly sexually dimorphic species. The patas monkey has a slender body with long limbs and a long tail (Fleagle, 1988). Digits on the hands and feet are short and narrow (Fleagle, 1988).

The patas monkey is found from Western Ethiopia to Senegal. This species is found in woodland margin habitats, and somewhat less in steppe and savanna environments.

The patas monkey is mainly a terrestrial species. Group sizes range from 5 to 74 individuals. The patas monkey sleeps in trees on the edge of the grassland (Fleagle, 1988). The main part of the diet is grass seeds, new shoots, and acacia gums (Fleagle, 1988). The patas monkey will also eat arthropods for protein (Fleagle, 1988). They also sometimes consume berries, fruit, and beans from the tamarind tree (Fleagle, 1988). The patas monkey is a diurnal species.

The patas monkey is a terrestrial quadruped, and is an excellent runner being able to reach speeds of up to 55 km/h (Kingdon, 1971). They are known to stand bipedally to look out for predators and to see over the tall grass when the group is moving (Fleagle, 1988).

The patas monkey has a unimale social system, with males sometimes forming all-male bands. During breeding season, occasionally extra males will enter the group and sometimes mate (Richard, 1985), but usually only the resident male receives the copulations. Males leave their natal group shortly before adolescence and females remain within the natal group (Chism et al., 1984). The resident male generally stays on the edge of the group, and only interacts with the females during the breeding season, females will harass the resident male if he is nearby (Richard, 1985). Hall (1967) concluded that female aggression is a major factor to whether a male will become a member of the group or not. Females will groom each other and females will let other adults and immature females take care of their infants (Chism, 1978; Chism et al., 1984).

copulation calls: These calls are emitted by the females to the males as a solicitation to copulation (Estes, 1991). These same calls may occur during copulation too (Estes, 1991).

huh-huh: This call is emitted by male patas monkeys (Estes, 1991). This call is low in pitch and are rhythmic in nature (Estes, 1991). These calls are given to communicate a threat against a conspecific (Estes, 1991).

two-phase grunts: This call is emitted by the male patas monkey and is low-pitched in nature (Estes, 1991). This call is given as an aggression call, and it turns into a bark with increasing intensity (Estes, 1991).

chittering: This call is high in frequency and short in duration, and is emitted for a long series (Estes, 1991). This is an alarm call of the patas monkey, and the stronger the call given, the more alert the members of the group are (Estes, 1991).


teeth-chattering: This is when a patas monkey will gnash the teeth together, and expresses a combination of fear and threat (Gautier and Gautier-Hion, 1982).

fear grimace: The lips are retracted so that the teeth are shown; the teeth are clenched together (Estes, 1991). This display functions as an appeasement signal to reduce aggression in aggressive encounters (Estes, 1991).

genital touching: The genitals are touched as a gesture of reassurance, this done especially to the males (Gautier and Gautier-Hion, 1977).

The patas monkey gives birth to a single offspring. During estrus the female's vulva will redden (Hrdy and Whitten, 1987). The female will solicit copulations from the male by crouching, then blowing air into her cheek pouch, and then drools, with the tail curled up (Hrdy and Whitten, 1987).

presenting: This behavior is preformed by the female to elicit copulation from the male; this pattern tells the male that she is ready for copulation (Estes, 1991).

pouting: Females do this during copulation while looking over their shoulder at the male (Estes, 1991). The lower lip is extruded forward while the lips remain closed (Estes, 1991).

Burton, F. 1995. The Multimedia Guide to the Non-human Primates. Prentice-Hall Canada Inc.

Chism, J. 1978. Behavior of Group Members Other Than the Mother Toward Captive Patas Infants. In Recent Advances in Primatology eds. D.J. Chivers and J. Herbert, Vol. 1. Academic Press.

Chism, J. Rowell, T., and Olson, D. 1984. Life History Patterns of Female Patas Monkeys. In Female Primates: Studies by Women Primatologists. ed. M. Small. Alan Liss.

Estes, R.D. 1991. The Behavior Guide to African Mammals. University of California Press.

Fleagle, J. G. 1988. Primate Adaptation and Evolution. Academic Press.

Gautier, J.P. and Gautier-Hion, A. 1977. Communication in Old World Monkeys. In Sebeok 1977.

Gautier, J.P. and Gautier-Hion, A. 1982. Vocal Communication within a Group of Monkeys: Analysis by Biotelemetry. In Primate Communication. eds. C.T. Snowdon, C.H. Brown, and M. Petersen. Cambridge University Press.

Hall, K.R.L. 1967. Social Interactions of the Adult Male and Adult Females of a Patas Monkey Group. In Social Communication Among Primates. ed. S.A. Altmann. Chicago University Press.

Hrdy, S.B. and Whitten, P.L. 1987. Patterning of Sexual Activity. In Primate Societies, eds. B.B. Smuts, D.L. Cheney, R.M. Seyfarth, R.W. Wrangham, and T.T. Struhsaker. University of Chicago Press.

Kingdon, J. 1971. East African Mammals, Vol. 1. Academic Press.

Richard, A.F. 1985. Diversity of Primate Social Organization. In Primatesin Nature. ed. A.F. Richard. W.H. Freeman and Co.

Last Updated: June 5, 2007.
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