With their blue and red face and their long, yellow beard, the colorful mandrills are instantly recognizable. Aside from their striking looks, most people do not know as much about mandrills as they do about apes like gorillas and chimpanzees. Mandrills simply seem more alien and have not yet been researched to that extent.
What kind of behavior do they display? Are mandrills dangerous?
Yes, they can be dangerous. Do not let their playful colors deceive you, while mandrills are of a shy and timid character they also know their strength and do not shy away from a fight. Their sharp teeth, especially their vampiric canines can do a lot of damage. They are also the largest living monkeys and male mandrills weigh more than 30 kilograms.
Females are about half as heavy – mandrills have one of the biggest gaps between the size in males and females of all mammals. If the strength per kilogram of body weight of a mandrill is compared with that of humans, mandrills are much stronger.
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Like most wild animals, mandrills will not attack you for fun, but will not hesitate when they feel threatened. There are some warning signs that show you when a mandrill might be thinking of attacking. To show their anger they slap the ground violently with their hands. They also stare directly at the perceived enemy, often while scratching their leg or thigh.
Why Are Mandrills So Colorful?
The intense coloring of their red and blue faces and the multi-colored areas around their genitals and anus are probably the most remarkable features of these monkeys. But why all these colors? Mainly, they are used to communicate emotions and social hierarchical status at a glance. When mandrills get excited, their colors become brighter and even more striking. The colors are also generally brighter in dominant males, which in turn makes them more attractive to females.
Other than via their colors, mandrills communicate a lot with posture and body language. A lifted bottom can show submission or, in females, availability for mating. Displaying their sharp teeth is a signal that looks threatening, but is actually a show of friendliness.
They also have scent glands on their chest, which enables them to mark objects with their scent.
Mandrills also use a wide array of vocal signals like grunts and shouts to communicate with one another, especially when they are not close enough to see each other’s colors and gestures.
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Are Mandrills Predators or Prey?
They are both! Mandrills are omnivores and besides fruits, leaves, fungi, and roots they also consume birds eggs, insects, frogs, snails, and small vertebrates. They have an extremely diverse diet in comparison with other animals.
When they cannot find
Natural predators of mandrills are leopards, crowned hawk-eagles, and snakes.
Humans also hunt mandrills since their meat is considered a delicacy in certain circles. Habitat loss is another reason why mandrills are endangered.
How Does the Social Structure of Mandrills Look Like?
Mandrills live in very big groups known as troops or hordes. A single group can contain several hundred members, and groups are also known to combine from time to time. The largest recorded horde consisted of more than 1000 individuals! A reason for this is that safety is in numbers, but they are also very social animals that enjoy playing with each other and grooming one another.
Even though these numbers sound as if it would be challenging to bring any order into a troop, every member has a certain place in the social hierarchy. At the top, there is a dominant male that has exclusive breeding rights with all the females in the group. Females stay in a group for life, which enables them to form strong social bonds with one another. Males, on the other hand, leave the group once they have matured.
Most adult male mandrills that have not formed their own group are solitary animals, but sometimes they also form all-male bachelor groups.