Patas Monkey

Patas Monkey

Hussar monkey, Military monkey, Red guenon, Wadi monkey, Sergeant Major monkey, Dancing monkey, Common patas monkey

Erythrocebus patas
Population size
Life Span
15-24 years
Top speed
km/h mph 
kg lbs 
cm inch 

The common patas monkey (Erythrocebus patas ), also known as the wadi monkey or hussar monkey, is a ground-dwelling monkey distributed over semi-arid areas of West Africa, and into East Africa.


The fastest primate in the world, the Patas monkey deserves this title due to its long limbs, slender body and a deep chest, giving this animal an amazing sprinting ability and allowing it to gain a high speed of up to 55 kilometers per hour. Males of this species are distinguished from females by a number of characteristics. Thus, they exhibit manes and long white moustaches, which aren't found in females. Furthermore, male Patas monkeys have brighter overall coloration with reddish and grey body, white rump as well as white colored backs of their hind limbs. On the other hand, females display noticeably duller coloration.



These primates are native and endemic exclusively to Africa, where they occur throughout sub-Saharan region from the western edge of Senegal to East Africa and south to Cameroon. Smaller populations of Patas monkeys occur in the Serengeti National Park and the Grumeti River Corridor in Tanzania. Additionally, isolated populations are found on the Air Massif (Niger) and the Ennedi Massif (Chad). Most Patas monkeys live in Acacia woodland, especially in areas adjacent to grassland. Although they generally prefer environment with high grass and scattered trees, Patas monkeys occupy a wide variety of habitats such as steppe, thicket, open grassland and wooded savanna.

Patas Monkey habitat map

Climate zones

Patas Monkey habitat map
Patas Monkey
Attribution-ShareAlike License

Habits and Lifestyle

The Patas monkeys are diurnal animals. They form troops of 10 - 40 individuals, consisting of a single dominant male and multiple females with their offspring. These primates live in a female-dominated society. Females not only lead the groups, but also defend the territory of their group from other troops. Although living together, males and females associate mainly during the breeding season. However, along with breeding, males do have some responsibilities such as protecting the group from threats. When another group appears on their territory, males engage in confrontation, emitting a loud warning call to drive away the intruders. They remain along the boundaries of their group's territory, alerting troop members of approaching threats. They often expose themselves to predators, acting as a decoy while the rest of the group flees to their shelters.

Seasonal behavior

Diet and Nutrition

As omnivorous animals, Patas monkeys feed upon a wide range of food. Their diet generally consists of pods, seeds, gall, young leaves, gum and flowers of Acacia trees, supplemented with occasional grasses, berries, seeds, fruits as well as insects, eggs, lizards and young birds.

Mating Habits

June-September or October-January
5 months
1 infant

The reproductive system of this species is referred to as ‘harem polygyny’. They live in harem groups of multiple females and a single male, who mates with them all. Patas monkeys occasionally exhibit polygynandrous (promiscuous) system, when males from the outside join these harems during the reproductive season and individuals of both sexes breed with multiple partners. Populations in various regions breed either in June-September or October-January. Gestation period lasts for 5 months, yielding one baby. The newborn infant is nursed and cared by its mother. At the early stage of development, the young monkey will cling to its mother. After reaching maturity and independence, males of this species disperse, typically joining all-male groups, although some may remain solitary, until the following mating season. The age of reproductive maturity is 3 - 4 years old in males and 2.5 years old in females.


Population threats

The Patas monkeys are generally threatened by loss and degradation of their natural range as a result of overgrazing by cattle as well as clearance of their savanna habitat for crops. In addition, these primates are currently hunted for their meat. And finally, the Patas monkeys are persecuted and killed as pests due to raiding crops.

Population number

No estimate of population size is available for Patas monkeys. However, this species is known to occur in Tanzania, where the largest population of 200 – 300 individuals are found in the western Serengeti. The population on the slopes of Burko mountain is around 20-30 individuals. Additionally, around 20-30 individuals occur in the Lolkisale area. Patas monkeys have also been introduced to the Islands of Cueva and Guayacan (Puerto Rico) between 1971 and 1981. In 2006, their estimated population size in this country was between 514 to 621 individuals. Overall, Patas monkeys are classified as Least Concern (LC), but their numbers are decreasing today.

Ecological niche

Due to their diet, mandrills may play some role in seed dispersal. To the extent that they serve as predators or as prey, they may have some effect on local food webs.

Fun Facts for Kids

  • When running, Patas monkeys gain very high speeds and are occasionally mistaken for Cheetahs.
  • The extensile cheeks of Patas monkeys can hold the same amount of food as their stomach.
  • These primates are known to give out different calls when encountering various types of predators.
  • These relatively small animals take one of the longest daily trips for primates of their size.
  • Moreover, males of this species possess proportionally the longest canine teeth among all primates.
  • They rest by leaning back putting up their feet, which makes them very similar to humans.
  • The origin of the word 'monkey' is unknown. However, it's believed to derive from "Moneke" - the name of the ape's son from an old German story of "Reynard the Fox". On the other hand, the word 'Patas' means 'tailless' in an African language.


1. Patas Monkey Wikipedia article -
2. Patas Monkey on The IUCN Red List site -

More Fascinating Animals to Learn About