Vervet Monkey {Cercopithecus Aethiops}

The Vervet is classified as a medium to large monkey

South Africa WildlifeThe Vervet Monkey {Cercopithecus Aethiops}

The vervet monkey is classified as a medium to large monkey. Different types of vervets vary in colour, but generally the body is a greenish olive or silvery grey.

The face, ears, hands, feet and tip of the tail are black, but an obvious white band on the forehead blends in with the short whiskers.

Males are slightly larger than females and are easily recognized by their turquoise blue scrota. Its tail is held up, with the tip curving down. Arms and legs are the same length.

Quick Facts


18 to 26 inches.


Between 6 and 17 pounds.


Woodlands, savannah and high plains. Their preferred habitat is acacia woodland along streams, rivers and lakes. They are diurnal, sleeping and eating in trees from which they seldom venture.


The vervet monkey is common throughout South Africa, and occurs wherever its habitat requirements are met. See the vervet monkey at the Amalinda Nature Reserve (near East London in the Eastern Cape), Botlierskop Game Reserve on the Garden Route (about 4.5 hours from Cape Town), and the Ntendeka Wilderness Area, which is just over four hours from Durban in KwaZulu-Natal.

Diet - Omnivores

Leaves and young shoots are most important, but bark, flowers, fruit, bulbs, roots and grass seeds are also eaten. The mainly vegetarian diet is supplemented with insects, eggs, baby birds and sometimes rodents and hares. They seldom drink water.


Highly sociable animals, vervets form complex but stable social groups (also called troops) of 10 to 50 monkeys which mainly consist of adult females and their offspring. The male vervet move freely in and out of these groups.

Within the troop, each adult female is the centre of a small family grouping. Females who have reached puberty generally stay in the troop. Vervet spend hours a day removing parasites and other materials from one another's fur. In their hierarchy, dominants get the most grooming.


Seasonal breeders, a single young is born after a gestation period of 5.5 months.

Life Expectancy

Up to 24 years in captivity.


Vervets rarely venture further than about 500 yards from the trees, since they are vulnerable to a variety of predators, including leopards, caracal, servals, baboons, large eagles, crocodiles and pythons.


Vervet Monkey
Conservation Status

  • Least Threatened

South Africa's Big Five

Did you know?

Infants are cherished in vervet society.

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