Interesting Facts About Mandrills: World’s Largest Monkeys

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.
Although they look superficially like baboons, they are more closely related to Cercocebus mangabeys. Mandrills are found in southern Cameroon, Gabon, Equatorial Guinea, and Congo. Mandrills mostly live in tropical rainforests.
They live in very large groups. Mandrills have an omnivorous diet consisting mostly of fruits and insects. Their mating season peaks in July to September, with a corresponding birth peak in December to April.
Without further ado, let’s now look at some interesting facts about Mandrills.
1. The mandrill is one of the most sexually dimorphic mammals due to extremely strong sexual selection which favors males in both size and coloration. Males typically weigh 19–37 kg (42–82 lb), with an average mass of 32.3 kg (71 lb).
Females weigh roughly half as much as the male, at 10–15 kg (22–33 lb) and an average of 12.4 kg (27 lb). Exceptionally large males can weigh up to 54 kg (119 lb), with unconfirmed reports of outsized mandrills weighing 60 kg (130 lb) per the Guinness Book of World Records.
2. The mandrill is an omnivore. It usually consumes plants, of which it eats over a hundred species. It prefers to eat fruits, but will also eat leaves, lianas, bark, stems, and fibers. It also consumes mushrooms and soil.
Carnivorously, mandrills mostly eat invertebrates, particularly ants, beetles, termites, crickets, spiders, snails, and scorpions. It will also eat eggs, and even vertebrates such as birds, tortoises, frogs, porcupines, rats, and shrews.
Mandrills likely will eat larger vertebrates when they have the opportunity, such as juvenile bay duikers and other small antelope. Large prey are likely killed with a bite to the nape with the mandrill’s long canines.
One study found the mandrill’s diet was composed of seeds (26.0%), fruits (50.7%), pith (6.8%), leaves (8.2%), flowers (2.7%), and animal foods (4.1%), with other foods making up the remaining (1.4%).
3. Mandrills are mostly terrestrial but they are more arboreal than baboons and feed as high as the canopy. When on the ground, mandrills walk by digitigrade quadrupedalism (walking on the toes of all four limbs).
When in the trees, they often move by lateral jumps. Mandrills are mostly diurnal, with activities extending from morning to evening. They sleep in trees at a different site each night. Mandrills have been observed using tools; in captivity, mandrills have been observed using sticks to clean themselves.
4. The mandrill is considered vulnerable and is affected by deforestation. However, hunting for bushmeat is the more direct threat. Mandrills are particularly threatened in the Republic of the Congo. Nevertheless, there have been captive-bred individuals that have been successfully reintroduced into the wild.
5. Mandrills are preyed on mainly by leopards. Additional predators known to attack both adult and young mandrills include crowned eagles and African rock pythons. They may be bitten and killed by Gaboon vipers when they accidentally rouse the venomous snake.
It is thought that most predators are a threat mainly to young mandrills, with the likelihood of predation decreasing in adult females and especially adult males, which may be invulnerable to all but the seldom ambush by a leopard.
6. Mandrill births occur from January to May. Most births in Gabon occur in the wet season, from January to March, and gestation usually lasts 175 days. In captivity, 405 days separate each birth.
Young are born with a black natal coat and pink skin. The females do most of the raising of the young. Alloparenting exists in this species, with female relatives providing care for the young. Males leave their natal groups when they are six years old and stay along the boundary of the social group.

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