The diet of the patas monkey includes a range of plant material and animal prey, including leaves, flowers, fruits, gum, seeds, grasses and arthropods, as well as mushrooms (1) (2) (3) (6) (8). This species is quite adaptable, and will also feed on invasive, non-native plants, as well as cotton and food crops (1). It also takes some vertebrate prey, including geckos, chameleons, and birds’ eggs (2) (3) (6). The patas monkey is active during the day, feeding in the morning and evening, and resting during the hottest hours (2) (3) (5). It is usually terrestrial, and although able to climb trees when alarmed it usually relies on its speed across the ground to escape danger (1) (3).
In some parts of the patas monkey’s range its diet is quiet simple, consisting of only a few different species of plant, with Acacia drepanolobium making up over 80 percent of the diet. Gum was found to be the most commonly eaten food item from this plant. Social ants were the most commonly eaten arthropod due to their great abundance and the ease and speed with which they can be found, with many actually living on the plants that make up the patas monkey’s diet. The patas monkey is the largest primate to subsist primarily on a diet of gum and arthropods, probably because these are relatively easy to find in its habitat. This diet is usually only associated with small-bodied species (8).
Patas monkeys live in fairly large female groups that may number up to around 30 individuals, usually with only one male present for most of the year (2) (3) (5) (6). Within the group there is a dominance hierarchy, with one or two of the females leading the group (2) (3) and the single adult male acting as a guard and lookout (5) (6). Lone males and all-male groups are also seen (2) (3) (5) (6), and during the breeding season other males may enter the female groups (3). Each group of patas monkeys occupies a large home range (1) (3) (8), and the members of the group sleep in separate trees at night, spreading themselves over a large area to help protect them against too many losses to predators (3) (5) (6).
In Kenya, most mating takes place between June and September, with the young being born in December and January. In Cameroon, most patas monkeys are born between November and January, while in Uganda most are born around February (3). However, female patas monkeys can come into season about every 30 days and breeding can take place at any time of year (2).
A single young is born each year, after a gestation period of about 167 days (2) (3). The young patas monkey clings to the female at first but gradually becomes independent (2).Juvenile males leave the group once they reach maturity and usually join all-male groups or live in solitude until the mating season (5). Female patas monkeys are first able to breed at around 2.5 years old and males at 3 to 4 years, and this species has been known to live for up to 23 years in captivity (2) (3).
Predators of the patas monkey include lions, leopards, jackals, wild dogs, pythons, crocodiles and eagles. When faced with these predators, the male patas monkey will make a diversionary display, bouncing on the bushes and trees before fleeing through the grass. This display detracts attention from the females and young, leaving them to flee silently or stay hidden in the grass (2) (5).