Redtail Monkey (Cercopithecus ascanius)

The redtail monkey has cheek pouches to store food in while it travels. The average body mass for a male redtail monkey is 4.17 kilograms and for a female it is 3.00 kilograms (Fleagle, 1988).

The redtail monkey is found in the countries of Central African Republic, Kenya, and Uganda. This species inhabits primary lowland rainforest, swamp forest, secondary forest, riverine, forest, and dryer woodland (Cords, 1987).

This species is primarily frugivorous, and will also eat insects, flowers , and leaves (Struhsaker, 1978). The redtail monkey forages for insects on the surfaces of leaves and bare, live branches and trunks (Struhsaker, 1978). Group sizes for this species range from 17 to 40 individuals (Cords, 1987). This is a diurnal species.

The redtail monkey moves through the forest quadrupedally (Fleagle, 1988).

In Kenya, the redtail monkey sometimes forms mixed-species associations with Cercopithecus mitis (Richard, 1985). Infanticide by the males has been reported to occur in this species (Struhsaker, 1977). The redtail monkey has a social structure of one group comprised of one male and a number of females and another group comprised only of males (Cords, 1987). The mating system could be thought of as polygynous-promiscuous (Cords, 1984a). Males disperse and females are philopatric (Cords, 1987). The redtail monkey is a territorial species that will defend its boundaries against conspecifics (Cords, 1984b). Mothers will let other females care for their young, allomaternal care (Struhsaker and Leland, 1979).

trill: These calls are soft and oscillating that descend in pitch, and are emitted by subadults when approached by an adult (Estes, 1991). This call functions to communicate submissiveness (Estes, 1991).


staring: This display by the redtail monkey is used as a threat display (Estes, 1991). The eyes are fixed on the stimulus and the eyebrows are raised and the scalp is retracted, the facial skin is also stretched by moving the ears back (Estes, 1991). Underneath the eye lids the color is different which contrasts sharply with the surrounding facial color (Estes, 1991)

staring with open mouth: This is the stare accompanied by the mouth being open but the teeth are covered (Estes, 1991). This is a threat expression and often occurs with head-bobbing (Estes, 1991).

head-bobbing: This is used as a threat display by the redtail monkey and head bobs up and down (Estes, 1991). This often occurs with staring with open mouth (Estes, 1991).

nose-to-nose greeting: This is when two redtail monkeys will approach each other and touch the muzzles together (Estes, 1991). This behavior is a greeting behavioral pattern and usually precedes play or grooming (Estes, 1991).

The redtail monkey gives birth to a single offspring.

presenting: This behavior is preformed by the female to elicit copulation from the male; this pattern tells the male that she is ready for copulation (Estes, 1991).

Cords, M. 1984a. Mating Patterns and Social Structure in Redtail Monkeys (Cercopithecus ascanius). Z. Tierpsychol. Vol. 64, 313-329.

Cords, M. 1984b. Mixed-species groups of Cercopithecus Monkeys in Kakamega Forest, Kenya, Ph.D. dissertation. University of California Berkeley.

Cords, M. 1987. Forest Guenons and Patas Monkeys: Male-Male Competition in One-Male Groups. In Primate Societies. Eds. B.B. Smuts, D.L. Cheney, R.M. Seyfarth, R.W. Wrangham, and T.T. Struhsaker. University of Chicago Press.

Estes, R.D. 1991. The Behavior Guide to African Mammals. University of California Press.

Fleagle, John G. 1988. Primate Adaptation and Evolution. Academic Press.

Richard, A.F. 1985. Primates in Nature. W.H. Freeman and Co.

Struhsalker, T.T. 1977. Infanticide nad Social Organization in the redtail monkey (Cercopithecua ascaniua schmidti) in the Kibale Forest Uganda. Z. Tierpsychol.. Vol. 45, 75-84.

Struhsaker, T.T. 1978. Food Habits of Five Monkey Species in the Kibale Forest, Uganda. In Recent Advances in Primatology. Eds. D.J. Chivers and J. Herbert. Academic Press.

Struhsaker, T.T. and Leland, L. 1979. Socioecology of Five Sympatric Monkey Species in the Kibale Forest, Uganda, in Advances in the Study of Behavior Vol. 9. Eds. J.S. Rosenblatt, R.A. Hinde, C. Beer, and M.C. Busnel. Academic Press.

Last Updated: October 6, 2003.
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