7 Types of Monkeys Found in Nigeria! (ID Guide)

What kinds of monkeys live in Nigeria?

Types of monkeys in Nigeria

If you visit Nigeria, it’s only natural to ask yourself the above question. I mean, who doesn’t want to see monkeys!?

Luckily, there are quite a few species you should be able to find. So, keep reading to learn how to identify each monkey, ape, and primate, and learn some fun and interesting facts. Pictures and range maps are also included!

7 monkey species that live in Nigeria:

#1. Olive Baboon

  • Papio anubis

Also known as the Anubis Baboon.

Common Nigeria monkeys

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults grow up to 85 cm (33 in) long.
  • Their long muzzles resemble a dog’s, and their tails are strangely bent as if they were broken.
  • As their name suggests, their fur has an olive tint.

Olive Baboons are among the largest monkeys in Nigeria!

You’ll find them in savannas, forests, and grasslands. These primates gather in groups of 15-150 members.

Their flexible diets, as well as their adaptability to different habitats, have made them the most widespread species of all baboons. Olive Baboons eat anything from plants to small animals. When hunting as a band, they can even take down small antelopes! Populations close to farmlands also prey on goats and sheep.

These monkeys follow a complex social hierarchy. Adult females form the core of the system, with social ranks passed down from mother to daughter. Several females create smaller sub-groups to groom each other and provide backup during conflicts. Meanwhile, males compete with one another to establish dominance.

#2. Patas Monkey

  • Erythrocebus patas

Also known as the Wadi Monkey or Hussar Monkey.

Common monkeys found in Nigeria

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults are generally 61-89 cm (24-35 in) long and have 51-76 cm (20-30 in) tails.
  • Males are much larger than females.
  • White hair frames their dark faces. They have pale coats that grow reddish brown around their backs.

Patas Monkeys aren’t your average monkey in Nigeria that lives in trees!

Instead, they are ground-dwellers known for their impressive speed. Patas Monkeys are the fastest sprinters among primates, clocking in at 55 km/h (34 mph). They roam savannahs where trees are sparse and widely spaced.

Troops of Patas Monkeys can contain up to 60 members, with only one adult male leading the females and juveniles. At night, they sleep together in trees where predators can’t reach them. Sometimes, they must boldly fight off wildcats and jackals at watering holes!

Since they live in arid habitats, they spend a lot of time finding food and water. These monkeys like to feed on sap leaking out from Acacia tree trunks. Where their territories encroach with human settlements, they’ve acquired a taste for farm crops.

#3. Tantalus Monkey

  • Chlorocebus tantalus
Monkeys of Nigeria
Credit (left image): Bernard Dupont, via Wikimedia Commons

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults are 30-83 cm (12-33 in) long, with 41-66 cm (16-26 in) tails.
  • Males are notably larger than females.
  • They have dark faces outlined with white fur.
  • Their undersides are white, while the rest of their coats are grayish or yellow.

It’s common to encounter Tantalus Monkeys in Nigeria near people due to urban expansion. This species thrives in woodlands, grasslands, and degraded forests. Groups of 30 individuals loiter around the edges of forests, always close to fresh water. Their varied diets include grasses, berries, and small animals, but they enjoy fruits the most.

Tantalus Monkeys don’t take kindly to strangers, aggressively screaming to shoo away intruders. They have 36 unique alarm calls for different situations and threats. They’re so loud because they aren’t as nimble as other monkeys in trees.

Bands of Tantalus Monkeys spend most of their days foraging on the ground. Cleverly, these primates store food inside their cheeks for later consumption. Once a feeding ground runs low on resources, they migrate to new areas.

#4. Putty-nosed Monkey

  • Cercopithecus nictitans

Also known as the Cowardly Monkey and Greater Spot-nosed Monkey.

Species of monkeys in Nigeria
Credit (left image): Javi Guerra Hernando, via Wikimedia Commons

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults are 43-66 cm (17-26 in) long. Their tails can grow 36-53 cm (14-21 in) in length.
  • These monkeys earned their names because of their distinctive white noses.
  • You might notice a “mustache” on their upper lips. They have olive-gray fur.

You’ll need to look up to spot Putty-nosed Monkeys in Nigeria.

They rarely climb down to the forest floor. These monkeys thrive in humid habitats such as tropical and mangrove forests. A community has 12-30 members, each skilled at acrobatic displays when traveling from branch to branch.

A Putty-nosed monkey with puffy cheeks is likely saving food for later. Its highly elastic cheek pouch can store almost as much food as its stomach can fit. This species feeds mainly on fruits and occasionally nuts and leaves. Populations living close to agricultural lands might raid farm crops as well.

Putty-nosed Monkeys are incredibly alert and vocal. Males often make booming calls to signal danger to the rest of their troops. They’re so easily startled that some people call them “cowardly monkeys.”

#5. Western Gorilla

  • Gorilla gorilla

Also known simply as gorillas.

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults reach 120-180 cm (47-71 in) tall.
  • They are mostly black or dark gray, though their foreheads have a brown tinge.
  • Adult males have a patch of silver hair on their backs.
  • Females are roughly half the size of males. They also have much less prominent crowns.

The critically endangered Western Gorilla lives in secluded tropical rainforests and swamps. An adult male, or “silverback,” typically protects 4-8 adult females and their offspring.

Together, these apes travel vast distances in search of their favorite food: fruits. They also supplement their diets with roots, shoots, and nuts. During drier seasons, you’ll see them probing termite mounds with tools fashioned from sticks.

Most of the time, Western Gorillas live peacefully even when they cross paths with other groups. Now and then, however, a silverback will challenge the troop leader to usurp his position. You’ll recognize such challenges when these apes start beating their chests with their fists.

While their parents are busy foraging for the family, juveniles play with each other during the day. Once night falls, Western Gorillas build nests out of plant material. They each get a nest to sleep in, except for infants who sleep with their mothers.

#6. Mona Monkey

  • Cercopithecus mona

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults are approximately 41-51 cm (16-20 in) long, with 52-73 cm (20-29 in) tails that become blacker towards the tip.
  • They have fuzzy white hair on their cheeks and foreheads.
  • Their coats are a mix of brown, gray, and brick red. In contrast, their underparts are creamy white.

Though they face habitat decline, Mona Monkeys in Nigeria are widespread in lowland and mangrove forests. They enjoy loitering near riverbanks. About a dozen individuals converge to form a troop. If they sense a predator on the prowl, they all freeze and stay completely motionless to remain undetected.

Mona Monkeys have quite interesting vocalizations! For example, they squeak at each other while foraging, and their alarm calls sound like sneezes and high-pitched chirps. Meanwhile, dominant males make booming calls to establish their territories.

YouTube video

Mona Monkeys are most active in the early mornings and late afternoons, reserving the midday for rest and grooming. They can run and leap across tree gaps with athletic skill. They scour the canopies for fruits, flowers, leaves, and seeds. Brazenly, some specimens even hunt snakes!

#7. Central Potto

  • Perodicticus edwardsi

Also known as the Milne-Edwards Potto.

Credit (left image): Ltshears, (right image): Daderot, via Wikimedia Commons

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults are 37-42 cm (15-17 in). Their puffy tails are about 6 cm (2 in) long.
  • They have large eyes and pointed snouts.
  • Their thick coats are different shades of brown.

These solitary primates live in swampy areas and lowland tropical forests. Central Pottos are shy and nocturnal, so they’re not easy to come by. Look for glowing orbs in the dark! Central Pottos have a layer of reflective tissue through their retinas, giving them keen night vision and luminescent eyes.

Fruits make up most of their food intake, with figs being a particular favorite. In times of drought, Central Pottos sustain themselves with tree gum, snails, and insects. After foraging at night, they retreat to the safety of tree hollows to rest in the daytime.

Central Pottos aren’t acrobats like other monkeys in Nigeria.

Instead, they make slow, stealthy movements as they cross branches so they don’t attract attention from predators. Mother pottos rub saliva on their offspring to repel predators. Despite their docile personalities, they are better left alone. If cornered, these animals will hiss and lunge at their captors.

For more information about animals in Nigeria, check out these guides:

Which of these monkeys in Nigeria is your favorite?

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