The answer to this week’s Tanda Tula #trackitthursday challenge is, the vervet monkey! The monkey that caused this track must have had its tail dragging on the ground, causing the thin line you see in the image.
The vervet monkey is a small monkey that can be easily distinguished by its black face, hands and feet with a silver-grey body. Male vervets are generally larger than females, weighing up to 17 pounds and identified easily by their blue scrotum and red penis.
They are very social animals and live in troops that are dominated by males. Females do not leave their birth troop, but males often move in between troops. These troops can have between 10 and 50 individuals at a time. There is a strong hierarchy in these troops which controls many aspects of daily life such as feeding, mating, fighting, friendships and even who gets groomed the most.
As a baby, they spend the first week clinging to their mother’s stomach. It takes around 3 weeks for the infant to start moving around by itself. It is then that they will start playing with other infants in the group and other small animals. They can often be seen playing chase and king of the castle, where they take turns pushing each other off a high perch.
Their diet consists mainly of leaves and young shoots but also includes bark, flowers, fruit, and grass, insects, eggs, baby birds and sometimes even rodents. They are one of the few mammals with colour vision, which allows them to see the difference between green and ripe fruit.
Vervet monkeys are found mainly in acacia woodlands where there is access to water by a stream, river or lake and are very common inhabitants across South Africa. They are active during the day and sleep at night in the trees. They rarely go further than 500 metres from the trees, as they are vulnerable to many predators such as leopards, caracals, baboons, large eagles, crocodiles and pythons. When in danger they scream and squeal to alert the rest of the troop.