Photo: A mandrill, Africa

Bright red-and-blue facial markings identify this mandrill as a mature male. Mandrills are the world's largest monkeys.

Photograph by Tim Laman

Map

Map: Mandrill range

Mandrill Range

Fast Facts

Type:
Mammal
Diet:
Omnivore
Average life span in the wild:
20 years
Size:
3 ft (90 cm)
Weight:
77 lbs (35 kg)
Group name:
Troop
Protection status:
Threatened
Size relative to a 6-ft (2-m) man:
Illustration: Mandrill compared with adult man

Mandrills are the largest of all monkeys. They are shy and reclusive primates that live only in the rain forests of equatorial Africa.

Mandrills are extremely colorful, perhaps more so than any other mammal. They are easily identifiable by the blue and red skin on their faces and their brightly hued rumps. These distinctive colors become brighter when the animal is excited. They also have extremely long canine teeth that can be used for self-defense—though baring them is typically a friendly gesture among mandrills.

These are primarily terrestrial monkeys, and they move with long arms to forage on the ground for fruits, roots, and animals such as insects, reptiles, and amphibians. Their cheeks have built-in pouches that are used to store snacks for later consumption. Though mandrills spend much of their time on the ground, they can climb trees and do so to sleep.

Mandrills live in troops, which are headed by a dominant male and include a dozen or more females and young. They also gather in multi-male/multi-female groups that can include some 200 individuals.

These colorful primates are threatened. They are often hunted as bushmeat, and many Africans consider them to be a delicacy. Mandrills are feeling the squeeze of spreading agriculture and human settlement—both are shrinking their rain forest homeland.

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