Scientific Name: Cercopithecus cephus cephus
In French, the word guenon means “fright”, referring to the monkey’s toothy grimace when angry or excited.
Moustached guenons are old world primates, and are just one of the 19 species of guenons in their genus. These Cercopithecids are grouped in a subfamily along with baboons, macaques, and mangabeys.They are active, long-tailed, and colorful monkeys.
STATUS: These primates are at low risk of extinction. Common and widespread, they are not currently facing major threats. However, they do have natural predators including large birds of prey, reptiles, and perhaps leopards. In addition, humans sometimes hunt them, and deforestation of their habitat has also occurred. Reserves have been established to protect them in certain areas.
HABITAT: Moustached guenons live in African rain forests from southern Cameroon to northern Angola. They are found in various levels of forest up to 10,000 ft.
DIET: Like other guenons, these monkeys are omnivorous. They eat plant matter, flowers, fruits, eggs, birds, insects, and small invertebrates.
PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICS: This is a medium-sized guenon, weighing up to 12 lbs. Adult males are usually larger than females. The body is greenish-brown but lighter on the under parts. The long, furred tail is reddish and non-prehensile. It provides balance when moving along branches. This guenon is named for its violet-blue face with a white bar on the upper lip and a row of black hairs below that gives it a moustached look. The guenon uses this striking facial pattern for species identification, and when communicating with other guenons by shaking its head from side to side. The front and hind limbs are about the same length on this monkey which does not swing through the trees, but rather runs along branches quadrupedally, or jumps from limb to limb. This monkey’s thumbs and big toes are fully opposable with saddle joints to assist the guenon in manipulating food items and gripping other objects. Guenons also have small calloused pads on their rumps that allow them to sit for prolonged periods without losing blood circulation to their legs. In addition, cheek pouches inside their mouths allow them to store food when foraging so that if they must flee suddenly, they can eat on the run. Now, that’s fast food!
Life in a Forest Community
Moustached guenons are active during the day and live mainly in the trees, even sleeping in them for protection from terrestrial forest predators. They also spend limited time on the ground. Typically, their groups consist of one male and his harem of 10-25 females. These guenons live near other guenon species as well as mangabeys and colobuses which forage at different levels of the canopy. In this mixed forest community, the various monkey species benefit mutually from each other’s warning behaviors, for instance when predators appear. Guenons use hisses, twitters, barks, and clicks to warn each other and maintain group contact. They make loud calls to defend territory against nearby groups as well. Juvenile moustached guenons make soft trills to show obedience when adults approach them.