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Patas Monkey (Erythrocebus patas) Fact Sheet: Summary

Patas Monkey (Erythrocebus patas) Fact Sheet

Patas Monkey

Patas Monkey (Erythrocebus patas)

 Image credit: © Eric Kilby. From Flickr. Some rights reserved.


Taxonomy Physical Characteristics

Kingdom: Animalia

Phylum: Chordata

Class: Mammalia

Infraclass: Eutheria

Order: Primates

Family: Cercopithecidae

Subfamily: Cercopithecinae

Genus: Erythrocebus

Species: Erythrocebus patas (Schreber, 1775) - patas monkey

Subspecies: E. p. patas
Subspecies: E. p. pyrrhonotus
Subspecies: E. p. villiersi

Body Weight:
Male: 7-13 kg (15-29 lb)
Female: 4-7 kg (9-15 lb)

Body Length:
Male: 60-87.5 cm (2-3 ft)
Female: 48-52 cm (1.6-1.7 ft)

Tail Length:
Male: 63-72 cm (2.1-2.4 ft)
Female: 48-55 cm (1.6-1.8 ft)

Pelage: Color variable. Back, flanks, and crown reddish-brown; underparts cream or white. Facial features used to distinguish subspecies, some with a white moustache.

Distribution & Status Behavior & Ecology

Range: Tropical Africa; widespread below the Sahara Desert and north of the tropical belt. Nearly spans the continent, west to east. Introduced population in Puerto Rico.

Habitat: Open grassland, savanna, and woodland. Primarily terrestrial.

IUCN Status: Near Threatened (2020 assessment)

CITES Appendix: Appendix II

Other Designations: Class B, African Convention

Population in Wild: Numbers unknown. Commonly found in most of its range. Declines in southern geographic range; these populations may have been historic range extensions from previously drier times.

Locomotion: Quadrupedal; walk, lope, and run. Fastest primate; may run up to 55 km/hr (34 mi/hr). Climb and leap from trees. Pounce or leap vertically to catch insects.

Activity Cycle: Diurnal. May travel long distances in forage for food. Typically rest near mid-day. Sleep alone at night in trees.

Social Groups: Live in single male, multi-female groups most of the year. Extra-group males join during the breeding season.

Diet: Omnivores. Primarily consume plants; gum, flowers, and seeds make up a large part of the diet. Arthropods, especially grasshoppers and ants, are a dietary staple.

Predators: Few direct observations of predators killing patas. Canids, felids, spotted hyena, olive baboon, chimpanzee, and Martial Eagle.

Reproduction & Development Species Highlights

Sexual Maturity: Males first reproduce c. 5 years, females c. 3 years; earliest onset of female reproduction of the cercopithecine monkeys.

Gestation: c. 23.8 weeks or 5.5 months

Litter Size: 1, most typically

Interbirth Interval: 12-14 months; c. 12 most often

Birth Weight: 504 g (c. 16 oz)

Age at Weaning: 3-5 months; first solid food c. 3 months

Typical Life Expectancy:
Wild populations: about 4.5-5 years, on average
Managed care: median life expectancy of about 15 years

Feature Facts

  • Diurnal, mainly ground-dwelling monkey
  • Long legs enable efficient travel
  • Climb trees to sleep at night
  • Live in single-male, multi-female groups during much of the year.
  • Groups of 8-71 individuals travel within a large home range in search of food.
  • Gum, thorns, flower and seeds of Acacia trees are a large component of the diet, though arthropods are commonly consumed.
  • Male group leaders are peripheral to females and often sit on a high point, apart from others.
  • Females begin reproducing c. 3 years of age, earlier than other cercopithecines; 1 offspring born per year thereafter. Males mature c. 5 years of age or once they join with a female to form a heterosexual group.

About This Fact Sheet

© 2014-2020 San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance. Updated July 2014. Taxonomy updated Apr 2019. Taxonomy and IUCN Status updated Dec 2020.

How to cite: Patas Monkey (Erythrocebus patas) Fact Sheet. c2014-2020. San Diego (CA): San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance; [accessed YYYY Mon DD]. 
(note: replace YYYY MMM DD with date accessed, e.g. 2014 Sep 15)

Disclaimer: Although San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance makes every attempt to provide accurate information, some of the facts provided may become outdated or replaced by new research findings. Questions and comments may be addressed to


We extend our many thanks to Dr. Lynne Isbell for providing expert content review of this fact sheet.

Dr. Isbell received her PhD in animal behavior and has made great contributions to the field of primate socioecology. Her approach is field-oriented, and she has undertaken multi-year studies in Uganda and Kenya and ventured into other regions of Africa and Madagascar. Dr. Isbell currently serves as professor at the University of California, Davis.

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