Miopithecus talapointalapoin

Geographic Range

Talapoin monkeys (Miopithecus talapoin) are found in western Central Africa. They range from Cameroon to Angola. (Napier and Napier, 1985)


Talapoin monkeys live in various forest types including lowland, riverine, seasonally flooded, mangrove swamps, and secondary forests. Miopithecus talapoin is also found near human settlements and always close to water. (Fleagle, 1988; Haltenorth and Diller, 1988; Napier and Napier, 1985)

Physical Description

Miopithecus talapoin is the smallest of the Old World monkeys (Fleagle, 1988). The body length ranges from 32 to 45 cm and tail length ranges from 36 to 53 cm. Talapoin monkeys weigh 0.8 to 1.9 kilograms (Haltenorth and Diller, 1988). They have large heads and eyes, and a short snout (Fleagle, 1988). The body of M. talapoin is greenish yellow to greenish gray above and white to grayish white below (Nowak, 1999). The face is mostly naked with black hairs surrounding the nose and yellow whiskers. These monkeys have cheek pouches for storing food during foraging (Nowak, 1999; Napier and Napier, 1985). The outer side of the limbs is pale or chrome yellow and sometimes reddish. The hands and feet are chrome yellow and have a buffy or reddish yellow tint. The tail color above varies from grayish black to brownish black and is yellow or yellowish gray beneath. The tip of the tail is buff, yellowish black, or black (Nowak, 1999). The female is usually paler than males and the young M. talapoin are like the females (Haltenorth and Diller, 1988). (Fleagle, 1988; Haltenorth and Diller, 1988; Napier and Napier, 1985; Nowak, 1999)

  • Sexual Dimorphism
  • sexes colored or patterned differently
  • male more colorful
  • Range mass
    0.8 to 1.9 kg
    1.76 to 4.19 lb
  • Range length
    25 to 40 cm
    9.84 to 15.75 in


Troups are made up of a number of adult males and a larger proportion of adult females with their offspring. The perineum of females becomes enlarged during estrus and females will initiate copulation during that time by presenting themselves to males (Wisconsin Primate Research Center, 2000).

Male and female monkeys pair between May and September (Haltenorth and Diller, 1988). Births occur between November and March (Nowak, 1999; Fleagle, 1988; Haltenorth and Diller, 1988). Most females give birth to one precocial young per year (Nowak, 1999; Haltenorth and Diller, 1988). The menstrual cycle is about 31 days and gestation lasts for 158 to 166 days (Napier and Napier, 1985). Females reach sexual maturity at 4.5 years and males will reach sexual maturity 1 to 2 years after the females (Nowak, 1999). (Fleagle, 1988; Haltenorth and Diller, 1988; Napier and Napier, 1985; Nowak, 1999)

  • Breeding interval
    These monkeys breed annually.
  • Breeding season
    Breeding occurs from May through September, births occur between November and March.
  • Average number of offspring
  • Average number of offspring
  • Range gestation period
    158 to 166 days
  • Average weaning age
    6 weeks
  • Average time to independence
    3 months
  • Range age at sexual or reproductive maturity (female)
    4.5 to 6.5 years
  • Range age at sexual or reproductive maturity (male)
    4.5 to 6.5 years

Development of young talapoin monkeys is rapid. By the third day the young are aware of their surrounding environment and at 2 weeks they begin to venture away from their mother, who, up until that time, carried them always. In 6 weeks young talapoin monkeys eat solid food and they are independent at 3 months. Male monkeys will join the other single males at 6 months of age (Haltenorth and Diller, 1988). (Haltenorth and Diller, 1988)

  • Parental Investment
  • precocial
  • pre-fertilization
    • provisioning
    • protecting
      • female
  • pre-hatching/birth
    • provisioning
      • female
    • protecting
      • female
  • pre-weaning/fledging
    • provisioning
    • protecting
      • female
  • pre-independence
    • provisioning
      • female
    • protecting
      • female
  • post-independence association with parents
  • extended period of juvenile learning


Miopithecus talapoin has lived 28 years in captivity (Haltenorth and Diller, 1988). Average life expectancy in the wild is unknown, but is likely to be lower than that seen in captivity. (Haltenorth and Diller, 1988)


Talapoin monkeys are diurnal, social animals and are highly mobile. They live in large groups averaging between 70 to 100 individuals. These groups are made up of a number of dominant, adult males who act as leaders in daily movements and sentinels at night. During times of rest during the day the young and females will rest towards the center of the group and males towards the periphery. Adult female members of the group outnumber adult males. Females and their dependent offspring sleep separately from males at communal night roosts. Subgroups of the same sex are formed for foraging (Fleagle, 1988). No territorial behavior has been observed, talapoin monkeys occupy relatively small home ranges that are always located near a river or other water source. They venture from this core area on daily foraging trips.

Captive juvenile males are more active, assertive, and playful than females. Also, juvenile males take part in all types of social play and were avoided by other monkeys more than females (Wolfheim, 1977). (Fleagle, 1988; Wolfheim, 1977)

Communication and Perception

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 conspecifics. 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. (Nowak, 1999)

Food Habits

These monkeys feed on insects, leaves, seeds, fruit, water plants, grubs, eggs, and small vertebrates (Haltenorth and Diller, 1988). Also, talapoins that live near humans will raid crops, including manioc roots (Napier and Napier, 1985).

  • Animal Foods
  • eggs
  • insects
  • Plant Foods
  • leaves
  • roots and tubers
  • seeds, grains, and nuts
  • fruit


Predators of talapoin monkeys include leopards, golden cats, genets, raptors, large snakes, and Nile monitors (Haltenorth and Diller, 1988). They will sleep in trees overhanging water for an escape route from predators (Napier and Napier, 1985). (Haltenorth and Diller, 1988; Napier and Napier, 1985)

Ecosystem Roles

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.

  • Ecosystem Impact
  • disperses seeds

Economic Importance for Humans: Positive

These monkeys are not reported to have any benefits for human economies.

Economic Importance for Humans: Negative

Talapoin monkeys that live near human habitations may raid agricultural crops and steal manioc roots from small farmers (Napier and Napier 1985).

  • Negative Impacts
  • crop pest

Conservation Status

Talapoin monkeys are listed on Appendix II of CITES and as lower risk by IUCN. Some researchers do not consider them threatened because they are not extensively hunted and parts of their range remain relatively undisturbed. Southern populations, which may represent a distinct species, however, may be threatened because of higher levels of habitat destruction in those areas.

Other Comments

Earlier, Miopithecus was listed as a subgenus of Cercopithecus (Nowak, 1999). Southern populations of M. talapoin may represent a distinct species. (Nowak, 1999)


Nancy Shefferly (editor), Animal Diversity Web.

Bridget Frederick (author), University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, Chris Yahnke (editor), University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point.



living in sub-Saharan Africa (south of 30 degrees north) and Madagascar.

World Map


uses sound to communicate


Referring to an animal that lives in trees; tree-climbing.

bilateral symmetry

having body symmetry such that the animal can be divided in one plane into two mirror-image halves. Animals with bilateral symmetry have dorsal and ventral sides, as well as anterior and posterior ends. Synapomorphy of the Bilateria.


uses smells or other chemicals to communicate

  1. active during the day, 2. lasting for one day.
dominance hierarchies

ranking system or pecking order among members of a long-term social group, where dominance status affects access to resources or mates


animals that use metabolically generated heat to regulate body temperature independently of ambient temperature. Endothermy is a synapomorphy of the Mammalia, although it may have arisen in a (now extinct) synapsid ancestor; the fossil record does not distinguish these possibilities. Convergent in birds.


forest biomes are dominated by trees, otherwise forest biomes can vary widely in amount of precipitation and seasonality.


offspring are produced in more than one group (litters, clutches, etc.) and across multiple seasons (or other periods hospitable to reproduction). Iteroparous animals must, by definition, survive over multiple seasons (or periodic condition changes).


having the capacity to move from one place to another.

native range

the area in which the animal is naturally found, the region in which it is endemic.


an animal that mainly eats all kinds of things, including plants and animals

seasonal breeding

breeding is confined to a particular season


remains in the same area


reproduction that includes combining the genetic contribution of two individuals, a male and a female


associates with others of its species; forms social groups.


uses touch to communicate


Living on the ground.


the region of the earth that surrounds the equator, from 23.5 degrees north to 23.5 degrees south.


uses sight to communicate


reproduction in which fertilization and development take place within the female body and the developing embryo derives nourishment from the female.

young precocial

young are relatively well-developed when born


Fleagle, J. 1988. Primate Adaptation and Evolution. San Diego: Academic Press Inc..

Gautier, P. 1974. Field and laboratory studies of the vocalizations of talapoin monkeys (*Miopithecus talapoin*). Behaviour, 51: 209-273.

Haltenorth, T., H. Diller. 1988. The Collins Field Guide to the Mammals of Africa. Lexington, Massachusetts: The Stephen Greene Press.

Napier, J., P. Napier. 1985. The natural history of the primates. Cambridge, Massachusetts: The MIT Press.

Nowak, R. 1999. Walker's Mammals of the World, Sixth Edition. Baltimore and London: The Johns Hopkins University Press.

Wisconsin Primate Research Center, September 10, 2000. "Primate Info Net: Talapoin Monkey (Miopithecus talapoin)" (On-line). Accessed September 1, 2002 at http://www.primate.wisc.edu/pin/factsheets/miopithecus_talapoin.html.

Wolfheim, J. 1977. Sex differences in behavior in a group of captive juvenile talapoin monkeys (*Miopithecus talapoin*). Behaviour, 63: 110-128.