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Species fact file
identifying vervet monkeys

Once you get to know Vervet monkeys they are as different as we are from each other and you can slowly get to identify them by facial features, distinguishing markings and colouring.

The Vervet Monkey Foundation has established a comprehensive profile chart for identifying Vervets. This is used in place of the archaeic method of darting monkeys and inserting a microchip under the skin which can not only be impractical due to having to dart the monkey on every occasion to be able to identify it, but also unnatural and expensive.

There are four sub-species of the Vervet monkey and therefore colouring can vary from grey to more golden.

  • HELVESCENS- of Northern Namibia, extreme Northwestern Botswana and Southwestern Zambia -is much yellower down the mid-back than the Pygerythrus and has pale-coloured limbs and white hands and feet. The hairs are yellow, tipped with black, and are clear yellow on the flanks.
  • RUFOVIRIDIS- of Northern Mozambique, Malawi and Southern Tanzania extending marginally into the Subregion in the Tete district of North-western Mozambique the back is distinctly reddish, darker towards the base of the tail.
  • NGAMIENSIS- of Northern and Northeastern Botswana -the tail tends to be darker, especially towards the tip, than in the other subspecies and the back is distinctly tinged yellow like the Helvescens. Adult males have vivid genital coloration- a red penis and peri-anus and powder blue scrotum.CLOETEI- of Northern Natal, Kwazulu and the Western Transvaal are similar to the Pygerythrus.
  • MARJORIAE- of Southern Botswana is similar to the features of the Pygerythrus

Vervet monkeys can live in a drier habitat than other members of this genus and are most abundant in and near riparian vegetation of savannahs, being generally absent from open grassland and open scrub. They will penetrate deep into otherwise totally unsuitable terrain along rivers and streams and will settle there if the riverine woodland is sufficiently developed to provide fruit bearing trees and cover. This is demonstrated by their occurrence in the dry interior of the Cape Province where they occur in parts of the riverine woodland of the Orange River and in parts of the Vaal River. The same applies in Botswana where they occur widely in the Okavango Delta and in parts of the eastern sectors that are well watered, but not in the arid scrub associations of the Kalahari which cover the larger part of the country.

Scientists noted their occurrence in rocky hills in the Grootfontein and Tsumeb districts of Namibia where they depend on the occurrence of permanent springs, but are not found in the surrounding terrain. The troops will wander far from permanent water during times of the year when wild fruits are available; returning to the better-watered country as the food supply diminishes. The Vervet monkey has a wide habitat tolerance.

    Common Name
(Taken from the French vernacular
for the species - cercopithèque vervet)
    Species Name
Chlorocebus aethiops pygerythrus
    Closely related to
The Grivet and Green monkey
    Age span
25-30 Years
46 - 66 cm (18-26 in)
3.5 – 4.5 kg (7.5 – 10 lbs), can grow to 20 lbs
Senegal and Sudan in central Africa to
the southern tip of Africa
Adapted to most woodlands, prefers
acacia tree riverine woodland
Wild fruits, berries, flowers, leaves, seeds,
seedpods, grasses, lichen, bark, roots, shoots,
insects, insect eggs and bird eggs.
Leopards, Eagles, Snakes, Hyenas