Talapoin Monkeys

16th July 2010

Talapoin monkeys are the two species of Old World monkeys classified in genus Miopithecus. Talapoin Monkeys live in central Africa and their range extends from Cameroon and the Democratic Republic of the Congo to Angola. It has been customary to recognize only a single species in the genus Miopithecus talapoin the Angolan Talapoin, however, the population in Cameroon (south of the River Sanaga), Rio Muni and Gabon can be distinguished as a separate species, Miopithecus ogouensis the Gabon Talapoin.


Talapoin Monkeys are the smallest Old World monkeys and almost certainly evolved from a larger-bodied ancestor by dwarfing. Their fur is coarsely banded yellow-and-black dorsally and white or greyish white ventrally. Their head is round and short-snouted with a hairless face. Their nose is black and the skin bordering the face is also black. In males, the scrotum is coloured pink medially and blue laterally.


There is mild sexual dimorphism in body size. Average head and body length is 16 inches (40 centimetres) and average tail length is 21 inches (52.5 centimetres). Talapoins weigh 3lb 1oz (1380 grams) for males and 21b 10oz (1120 grams) for females.


Talapoin Monkeys are both diurnal and predominantly arboreal, although they may occasionally descend to the ground while foraging. Talapoin Monkeys are good swimmers and commonly sleep on branches overhanging rivers so that they can dive to escape from predators.


Talapoin Monkeys live in large groups of 60 to 100 animals. They congregate at night in trees close to the water, dividing into smaller sub-groups during the day in order to spread out to find food. Groups are composed of several fully mature males, numerous females and their offspring. Unlike the closely related Guenons, Talapoin Monkeys do not have any territorial behaviours. Talapoin Monkeys like to play and this mostly takes place between juveniles, however, adults also engage in play. Talapoin Monkeys have two types of play - wrestling which includes grabbing and grappling and sometimes includes playface and running which includes fast chasing of one individual by another. Male Talapoins tend to engage in social play more often than female Talapoins.


Talapoin Monkeys verbal repertoire is rather smaller although when an individual attacks, it will look at it and give 'pant chirps' to other individuals that it is not attacking and they respond by joining in on the attack. As in all primates, communication in this species is likely to be complex. Both vocalizations and visual signals (such as body posture and facial expressions) are used by primates to communicate with con-specifics. In addition, tactile communication may play some role in maintaining social bonds, as in the form of grooming. Some primates use chemical communication, especially in reproductive contexts.


Talapoin Monkeys are omnivores, their diet consisting mainly of fruits, seeds, aquatic plants, insects, shellfish, bird eggs and small vertebrates.


The highest recorded age of a Talapoin Monkey in captivity is 28 years, while the life expectancy in the wild is not well-known, however, is likely to be lower than that seen in captivity. A female Talapoin Monkeys 160 day gestation period (typically from November to March) results in the birth of a single young. Offspring are considerably large and well developed (newborns weigh over 200 grams and are about a quarter of the weight of the mother) and develop rapidly. Within 6 weeks they eat solid food and are independent at 3 months of age.


Predators of Talapoin Monkey include leopards, golden cats, genets, raptors, large snakes, and Nile monitors. Talapoin Monkeys may help to disperse seeds of the fruits they eat and control insect populations. They also act as important prey animals for medium to large predators. Talapoin Monkeys are not currently regarded as threatened. They are occasionally hunted as a source of bush meat, although their small body size makes this relatively unprofitable.