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Red-tailed guenon (Cercopithecus ascanius)
Relatively small monkey
o Length: About 13-25 in (32-64 cm)
o Weight: About 6.5-9 lbs (3-4 kg)
o Exhibits some sexual dimorphism in weight and body length: Males are larger
Adults have recognizable markings: A black face, bluish skin around the eyes, a white
spot on the nose, and white cheek fur
The name “red-tail” comes from the chestnut-colored fur on the underside of the tail.
The rest of the body is covered with a speckled brown coat and gray or black limbs,
depending on the subspecies.
In the Wild
Habitat and Range
• Many types of tropical forest in East-Central Africa
• Ranges from the Central African Republic eastwards through Kenya and south into
Angola and Zambia
• Tends to stay in the mid-level tree canopy
Omnivorous: Eats fruit, leaves, roots, other plant matter, and some animal prey
• Communication in this species is complex, and includes chemical, visual, auditory, and
tactile components
o Signals are commonly used to warn of potential predators or unwanted
• Fast and active – long tail helps them balance
• Store food in cheek pouches and move away from group to eat to avoid theft by other
Social Structure
• Red-tailed guenons live together in family groups ranging from about 7 to 35 individuals
o One adult male and several females and juveniles
• Groups feed together during the day and sleep together in neighboring trees at night
• Females remain with the same group for life, males will leave the group after reaching
sexual maturity
• Males form all-male groups or displace other males in existing groups
• At times, large numbers of red-tailed guenons may be seen together, likely indicating
several family groups coming together to share food where it is plentiful
• In the wild: Unknown
• In captivity: About 20 years
The Maryland Zoo in Baltimore
February 2014
Red-tailed guenon (Cercopithecus ascanius)
Ecosystem Relationships
• Prey for leopards, crowned hawk eagles
• Important seed dispersers
• Promiscuous polygynous mating system – one male mates promiscuously with the
females of the group
• Red-tailed guenons mate during the dry season, between December and April
• Females give birth to single offspring usually between May and September, after a
gestation period of 4 to 5 months
• At birth, infant red-tails are covered in woolly grey fur and have nose spots but do not
yet have fully distinctive facial coloration. Within about 3 months, they are smaller,
paler replicas of adults.
• Infants are completely dependent on their mother
• Diurnal, primarily active in early morning and evening
Threats and Conservation Status
• IUCN listed as Least Concern
• As with many rainforest dwelling species, habitat loss is a major concern
• Red-tailed guenons have been known to raid farms, which can be a serious problem for
farmers. Some farmers view them as pests and will kill them.
At The Zoo
Bindhi: Female, born 1986
What We Can Do
Make environmentally responsible lifestyle decisions to help conserve habitat –
conserve energy and resources, reduce litter and pollution
Support the conservation efforts of local organizations like The Maryland Zoo as well as
organizations working in the field to protect wildlife and conserve habitat
References and Additional Resources
The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species:
The Maryland Zoo website:
The University of Michigan’s Animal Diversity Web:
The Maryland Zoo in Baltimore
February 2014