By Nyokabi Ng’ang’a

Thumbnail Photo Courtesy of

“Common to Daystar University, the Grivet monkey, scientifically known as Cercopithecus aethiops- meaning Ethiopian long-tailed monkey, can be easily identified through their ebony-black face.”

How they Look

Vervet Monkeys are primates predominant within the Sub-Saharan region. They have an ; Olive-green coat on their outer build and a furry white covering, with a bluish-green layering of the skin, on their torso.

Scientifically, Vervet monkeys are referred to as Chlorocebus pygerythrus. It is registered that there are six sub-species of the Vervet Monkeys in the world, with the East African region carrying the bulk of the Grivet sub-specie. Common to Daystar University, the Grivet monkey, scientifically known as Cercopithecus aethiops– meaning Ethiopian long-tailed monkey, can be easily identified through their ebony-black face.

This black hue can also be found on their tail and limb tips. However, unlike the adults, new-born Grivets, have a pink-coloration on their faces and a black coat. Generally, it takes 3-4 months, per records, for a newly born Vervet monkey to gain adult coloration. To identify a female Vervet monkey from a male Vervet monkey, one can mainly use size and reproductive organs as their two determinants.

Male Vervet monkeys are heavily built-in size weighing between 5-10kgs, whereas the females are recorded to weigh between 3-5kgs. In addition, the male Vervet monkeys can be identified through their turquoise-colored scrotum and their red phallic object, whereas the females can be identified through their two elongated mammae on their chest.

How they live

The Vervet monkeys live in troops, which consist of nearly fifty individuals. These troops are led by an Alpha male whose prowess, likeability and scrotum color are a plus in his rule. For a male to rule the troop, they have to contest for the seat and just like any other monkey troop, they have to please the leading females of the troop- who more often than not, become his harem.

In leading a troop, the Alpha male is expected to keep watch for the safety of all individuals, especially from predators main of which include: Leopards, Chimpanzees, Eagles and Hyenas, and that there are enough food grounds for everyone. The life of an Alpha male is one characterized with comfort- from the constant grooming he receives from the female Vervs -; and contestations from other male Vervs, whether from outside or inside his troop, who are in search for a troop to lead.

It is stated that the bluer the scrotum of a Vervet male monkey is, the higher are his chances of dominance in a troop. The female Vervet monkeys, on the other hand, are responsible for the grooming and nurturing the young ones of the troop. They also play a huge role in determining their troop leader.

Living routine

The daily routine of the Vervet Monkeys is characterized by eating and grooming. As omnivorous eaters, the Vervet monkeys are spoilt for choice with their food picks, ranging from tubers to cereals, vegetable crops, fruits, bird eggs and chicks. To pass time, the Vervet monkeys engage in grooming sessions, which are mainly conducted by the females of the troop. These sessions are essential in creating tight-bonds and a sense of community within the troop.

To communicate, Vervet monkeys use squeaky sounds and grunts to pass their messages to one another. These sounds relay different emotions; from the expressions of anger to the thrills of joy and grunts of pain and warning; and not forgetting, instigations of fights.

Male Vervet monkey walking
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Important to note, as per routine and records, Vervet monkeys usually have an annual, in some cases biannual, mass mating season. This season takes place in April and June, as per given records, with the assurance of having ample food for the troop after the rainy season. Speaking of which, a stable water supply, in addition to temperate settings and dry savannah is the perfect choice of habitation for the Vervet monkeys.

How safe are they?

According to a released report by IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) in 2008, the Vervets were listed as a least concern due to their widespread and stable populace. Albeit, their existence is one that is threatened due to the constant developing human-wildlife conflict.

The Vervets are closely associated to pests, as they are known for raiding people’s farms and houses hence driving many to kill, stone and even eat them. However, there are better wildlife-saving ways such as using dogs, in which one can keep them off from their homesteads and farms, aside from killing and eating them.

Fun facts

Vervet monkeys:

Can live up to 30 years.

Have the same subset and number of teeth as humans.

Have elongated canines that can approximately reach a height of 3.2 cm.

Have eyes, which are gifted with color-vision, enabling them to source out for palatable grubs and to safeguard themselves against predators.

Are diurnal in nature, implying their eyesight is impaired at night, hence they seek refuge in trees and roof tops in a measure to avert predation.

Have cheek pouches used for storing food.

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