Talapoin Monkey

Talapoin monkeys live a range of forest types in the western side of central Africa, including mangroves and rainforests. They are also often spotted in and around human settlements close to the forest. The monkey's distribution runs from Cameroon to northern Angola.

One of the smallest African monkeys, the talapoin monkey has a slender body, a round head, which is large relative to body size, and prominent ears. Its legs are longer than its arms, and its tail exceeds its head and body length.

Talapoin monkeys are highly social. They live in large groups, or troops, of 70 - 100 monkeys, and each troop has its own territory, although several troops may sometimes unite into a larger group. Each troop contains adults of both sexes, although there are generally a few more females than males. Dominant males lead the troops, deciding where to forage and when to move on. The males also keep guard over the troop at night. The young and females rest at the centre of the troop, while the males are posed as sentinels at the edges.

Talapoin monkeys sleep in bushes and mangroves and are active in the day time, particularly in the early morning and late afternoon. Good climbers and runners, they enter water readily and swim and dive well. Leaves, fruit, insects, eggs and small animals are all included in their diet, and they will raid plantation crops.

This species is the smallest monkey in Africa. Both sexes have cheek pouches, but the females have paler fur than the males.

Females are ready to breed from May to September. Their perineum swells up as a signal that they are fertile. Females are pregnant for about five months. The young are precocious: they can look after themselves soon after birth, and at just two weeks a young talapoin monkey is able to climb independently of its mother. It is fully independent at three months, although it continues to suckle until it is 4 or 5 months old.

Distribution: Western central Africa.

Habitat: Forests.

Food: Insects, leaves, fruits, eggs and small vertebrates.

Size: 32 cm (12.5 in); 1.4 kg (3 lb).

Maturity: 5 years.

Breeding: Births occur from November to March.

Life span: 25 years.

Status: Lower risk.