The Vervet monkey
(Chlorocebus aethiops) forms the highest developed order of the
animal kingdom. Zoologically the human is also classified under the
order primates. This classification of such diversified creatures as old
world apes, half apes and the human under one order, results from common
characteristics of which the most important is the five fingered
limbs, the formation of the teeth, the absence of facial hair and
presence of flat finger nails.
Vervet monkeys are diurnal animals, they
can distinguish certain colours which is extraordinary amongst animals.
They are able to show emotion by means of mime. These are amongst the
reasons why vervet monkeys are popular animals for zoos and as pets. The
animal ordinance encourages people to keep vervet monkeys as pets, maybe
because people "see or recognise" something of themselves in
This close relationship with humans pose a few problems for the
species. They are popular for experiments regarding liver, kidney and
other organ transplant techniques, cancer research, they are also used
in AIDS research, pharmacological, immunological and psychological
research and on game farms they are often used for target practice.
Keeping vervet monkeys in cages pose a serious threat to these animals
because they can't survive in captivity for long without showing signs
of serious malfunction.
The vervet monkey species is probably about 7 million years old, some
6500 million years older than modern day humans. One of the important adaptations for tree
and ground life are the eyes, hands and feet of the monkey. The eyes are
stereoscopic which enables the vervet to gauge distances between
branches and between trees and ground level. Their ability to distinguish
colours and to see three dimensional assists in finding food.
hands and feet can change grip and can hold onto articles. The formation
of the hands and feet enable the monkeys to live either on the ground or
in trees. Because vervet monkeys spend a great part of the day on the
ground, their feet are developed in such a way that they can walk for
long distances. The teeth of the vervet monkey is typical of omnivores;
it is able to handle plant material as well as meat.
Diet of the Vervet Monkey
4. Swollen thorns
6. Leaves (tree and grass)
7. Fungi and other plant parts (mushrooms on termite mounds and under
Jackal berry trees, tubers, roots, stalks and sterns).
8. Animals (baby birds, termites, arthropods, geckos, spiders, scorpions, dragonflies,
grasshoppers, bird's eggs).
9. Unidentified foods
10. Most cultivated foods (citrus: oranges, naartjies, lemons, vegetables:
cabbage, butternuts, lettuce and any locally grown varieties).
Activities of the Vervet Monkey
1. Walk: identified as slowest gait; when feet visible, only one foot
off the ground at any given time.
2. Forage while walking: scan vegetation while walking.
3. Feed while walking: chew or ingest food while walking or moving in
4. Lope: identified as faster than walking with a rocking motion: when
feet visible, front and hind feet alternating suspension off ground.
5. Run: identified as fastest gait: when feet visible, all feet
suspended simultaneously off ground at some point in the stride.
6. Climb: quadrupled movement within trees or bushes.
7. Leap: substantial vertical movement with all four feet off the
substrate at height of vertical movement.
8. No movement: resting, sleeping or being still, excludes all other
9. Forage without moving: search, scan or manipulate food item at close
range while stationary.
10. Feed without moving: chew or ingest food item while stationary.
11. Auto groom: scratching, combing through one's own fur.
12. Social groom: combing through another's fur, cuddling of babies by
all members of troop.
13. Safety of troop: distance allowed for babies to move away from
mother or any other fostering member, alarm calls to danger, and
reaction of individual making the call and response from troop, which
member of the troop will take charge of babies and what is the specific
role of the mother during the exercise.
14. Play: when two or more babies, juveniles and/or adults engage in
touching and running or chasing each other around.