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Vervet Monkey (Chlorocebus pygerythrus) Fact Sheet: Summary

Vervet Monkey (Chlorocebus pygerythrus) Fact Sheet

family of monkeys

Vervet Monkey (Chlorocebus pygerythrus)

Image credit: © David Schenfeld from FlickrSome rights reserved.


Taxonomy Physical Characteristics

Describer (Date): Cuvier (1821)

Kingdom: Animalia

Phylum: Chordata

Class: Mammalia

Order: Primates

Family: Cercopithecidae

Subfamily: Cercopithecinae

Genus: Chlorocebus

Species: Chlorocebus pygerythrus *

Subspecies: C. p. excubitor
Subspecies: C. p. hilgerti

Subspecies: C. p. nesiotes
Subspecies: C. p. pygerythrus
Subspecies: C. p. rufoviridis

* Experts disagree on the taxonomy of this species
and others within the same genus. Green, grivet, malbrouck, and tantalus monkeys have been
referred to as vervets by some.
Body Weight:
Male: 3.9-8.0 kg (8.6-18 lb)
Female: 3.4-5.3 kg (7.5-12 lb)

Head & Body Length:
Male: c. 490 mm (19 in)
Female: c. 446 mm (18 in)

Tail Length:
Male: 600-750 mm (24-30 in)
Female: 485-653 mm (19-26 in)

Pelage: Back and sides are mottled combinations
of light brown, grayish-brown, tawny, olive-brown,
olive-green, or brownish-yellow; belly and inner
limbs are white or off-white. Face black and ringed
in white fur. Feet and hands black, though more
pronounced in adult males.
Distribution & Status Behavior & Ecology
Range: Endemic to eastern and southern Africa.

Habitat: Found in savanna, open woodland, and
forest-grassland mosaic. Commonly associated
with water and Acacia trees. Extremely adaptable
and found in urban areas.

IUCN Status: Least Concern (2016 assessment)

CITES Status: Appendix II
Locomotion: Walk slowly to forage for food. Run
quickly and scale trees to escape predators. Leap
through trees, ricocheting off branches during inter-
group encounters

Activity Cycle: Diurnal monkeys, leave sleeping
trees near sunrise for daily foraging trips. Rest near
mid-day and visit watering locations. Spend most of
of the day eating.

Social Groups: Live in heterosexual groups;
composed of 2 or more females, their offspring, and
multiple males. Numbers range from 7-53, though
typically with fewer than 40 individuals. Linear
dominance hierarchies exist within each sex.

Diet: Omnivores who principally consume plant
products. Many populations rely heavily on the
leaves, thorns, flowers, pods and peas, gum, bark,
and wood of Acacia trees.

Predators: Medium to large mammalian carnivores
and eagles; particularly leopards, African Crowned
Eagle, and Martial Eagle. Predator specific alarm
calls warn group members of potential harm.
Reproduction & Development Species Highlights

Sexual Maturity: Females first reproduce at 4-6
years of age; males sexually mature at 5-6 years.

Gestation: 163-165 days, in managed care; estimate of
156-161 days in the wild.

Litter Size: 1-2, typically 1

Birth weight: 300-400g (0.7-0.9 lb)

Age at Weaning: Complete by c. 18 months

Feature Facts

  • Diurnal, semi-terrestrial monkeys
  • Pronounced sexual dimorphism
  • Adult males are approximately 30% heavier than females
  • Dominant adult males display brightly colored red, white, and blue ano-genital regions
  • Highly social; produce numerous vocal calls
  • Over 30 distinct auditory sounds are used to warn members of danger and to maintain group cohesion 
  • As many as 53 monkeys may live together, though group size is typically less than 40 
  • Individuals gather in trees to sleep at night and travel together in daylight to forage and feed on various plant and animal foods

About This Fact Sheet

© 2014-2020 San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance. IUCN Status updated Oct 2020.

How to cite: Vervet Monkey (Chlorocebus pygerythrus) Fact Sheet. c2014-2020. San Diego (CA): San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance; [accessed YYYY Mmm 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 wish to thank Prof. Peter Henzi for providing content review of this fact sheet.

Prof. Henzi is an expert in primate sociality and cognition and conducts field research with baboons and vervet monkeys in southern Africa.

Prof. Henzi is currently a faculty member of the Psychology Department at the University of Lethbridge, and is also a Honorary Research Professor at the University of South Africa.

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