Patas monkeys are ground-living monkeys. They are found in woodland and savannah areas across the central region of Africa. They do not live south of the Congo rainforest, but are found from Senegal in the west to the huge savannahs of East Africa. This species is one of the few monkeys to be expanding their range. Although deforestation is thinning the African rainforest, patas monkeys stay out of dense jungle and are now found in forest clearings and along the edges of roads cut into the forest.
The slender, long-legged patas monkey is among the fastest moving of all primates on the ground. It can attain speeds of up to 31 mph (50 km/h). These monkeys are omnivores. They will eat a range of plant and animals foods and can survive just as well on waste thrown away by people. Patas monkeys sleep in trees, usually at the edge of forest, but spend virtually all of their day on the ground, searching for fruit, seeds, leaves, roots, insects, lizards and birds’ eggs. While the troop feeds, the male leader keeps a look-out for danger and warns his harem of the approach of any enemies.
Male patas monkeys are larger than the females, though both sexes have distinctive white beards and moustaches. The monkeys combine a lean body with long legs, which is a good build for running on all fours across the ground. Patas monkeys, however, are also agile climbers and dash into trees or on to other high points if they feel threatened.
Patas monkeys live in groups of 10 - 40 individuals. One type of group contains the adult females, which are generally closely related to each other, and their offspring of both sexes. The adult males live alone or in small male-only groups. Adult males visit the females in the summer to mate. Rather than actively courting mates, a male will wait for females to choose him. Successful males will build up a harem of mates, which he defends from other males while the females are on heat. In some groups, however, patas monkeys have a promiscuous mating system in which both males and females breed with several mates. Most births occur from December to February, and females produce 1 young after a gestation of 170 days. The baby takes its first solid food at about 3 months old.
Distribution: Western and eastern Africa. Most common in east.
Habitat: Savannah and woodland.
Food: Fruits, roots, leaves and insects.
Size: 70 cm (27.5 in); 13 kg (28.75 lb).
Maturity: 3 - 4 years.
Breeding: Most births occur in December and January after a gestation of 24 weeks.
Life span: 20 years.