The mandrill is the largest species of monkey - its name actually means "man-ape". Males will grow to about twice the size of females.

This is the largest monkey in the world, with males weighing up to 54 kg (120 lb). The adult males are particularly colourful, with bright blue and purple nose ridges, scarlet noses and lilac buttock pads. There is a strong hierarchy among male mandrills, and it has been shown that the males with the most prominent facial coloration and the biggest rumps have the most success attracting females and fathering young.

Mandrills move about in groups of up to ten adult females - with or without infants - around ten juveniles, and single dominant males.

Foraging mandrills cover around 8 km (5 miles) per day. Usually the male stays dose to the back of the group, but when there is danger he moves to the front to defend the group. Although mandrills are famous for their formidable appearance and ferocity, captive individuals are usually quite gentle.

A male mandrill's face is very brightly coloured, especially when he becomes excited. Females have duller, blue faces and are less heavily built than males.

These monkeys live in groups, with more than 1300 recorded together in Gabon’s Lope National Park. This is the largest association of primates apart from humans ever recorded. Generally, though, mandrills occur in much smaller groups, numbering perhaps 12. They spend most of the time on the ground, where they forage for food. Mandrills eat fruit, nuts, leaves, insects and small invertebrates and vertebrates. Females carry their young slung beneath their bodies.

Births occur at any time of year, peaking from December to February. A single young is born after a gestation of about 77 months.

Distribution: Occurs in the tropical rainforests of West Africa, from the Sanaga River southwards, in southern Nigeria, Cameroon, Gabon, Equatorial Guinea and the Congo.

Habitat: Dense lowland rainforest.

Weight: 11 - 27 kg (24 - 60 lb); males are heavier.

Length: 63 - 88 cm (25 - 35 in), including short tail.

Maturity: Females 3.5 years; males 4.5 - 7 years.

Gestation Period: About 186 days.

Breeding: 1 rarely twins; weaning occurs at around 8 months.

Diet: Mainly vegetarian, eating fruit, leaves, seeds, nuts, roots and some invertebrates.

Lifespan: Up to 46 years.

Status: Threatened.

Change in appearance

The skin colour becomes brighter when the monkey is excited.


The colour of the mandrill's distinctive rump may help them to see each other in the forest.


This is mainly olive-brown, with a whitish underside.


Young mandrills have predominantly dark faces at first, and will start to develop their distinctive colouration as they grow older.

Mandrills have formidable canines, measuring up to 5 cm (2 in) long. Exposing them like this is often a welcoming sign.


Range: Africa: S.E. Nigeria, Cameroon.

Habitat: Forest.

Size: Body: 17 3/4 - 35 1/2 in (45 - 90 cm). Tail: 2 1/4 - 4 3/4 in (6 - 12 cm).

A powerfully built forest baboon, with a large head and a short, stumpy tail, the drill has a long muzzle, a ridged face and large nostrils. Males are much larger than females, sometimes twice the size, and have heavy manes on neck and shoulders. The skin of the buttock pads and the area around them is brightly colored, and the hue becomes more pronounced when the animal is excited.

Although it climbs well and sleeps in low branches, the drill is essentially a ground-dwelling animal and moves about easily on all fours.

It lives in family troops of 20 or more individuals, which may join with other troops to form bands of as many as 200. The baboons communicate with each other using a variety of deep grunts and sharp cries, as well as with up and down movements of the head with mouth closed, to express threat, or side to side movements with teeth exposed, to express friendship. Old males dominate the troop and guard its safety; they are formidable animals, well equipped for fighting, with their sharp teeth and strong limbs.

Drills feed on plant matter, insects and small invertebrate and vertebrate animals.

Young are born at all times of year. The female produces 1 baby after a gestation of about 7 months.