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Black and White Colobus

Colobus guereza (aka Guereza)

Black and White Colobus


The black and white colobus is a heavy bodied animal with a long tail. The head and body length is 20 to 35 inches and the tail length is 25 to 35 inches. Weight is 14 to 32 pounds. Males are slightly larger than females. The fur is distinctly black and white, and the face is gray. The coat is glossy black. A U-shaped white mantle of varying length surrounds the face. The outside of the thigh is whitish, as is the tail, and there are long white epaulettes streaming from the shoulders. There are only four digits on each hand, the thumb being absent.

Distribution and Habitat

Guerezas range throughout equatorial Africa, in forest regions up to 9,800 feet. They are most abundant in secondary forests or along rivers, but also live in woodlands and wooded grasslands.

Social Behavior

A typical troop contains 6 to 10 members, led by an adult male. Each troop maintains and defends a relatively small but well-defined territory, within which only the dominant male is allowed to mate. Young males leave the group of their birth before they are fully mature, while females usually stay with their birth group for life. Young males usually lead solitary lives, but some will take over their own harem and create a new birth group.


Mating takes place year-round. The gestation period is 6 months. Females reach sexual maturity at about 4 years, males at about 6 years. Both the female and the male take part in the parenting of the young.


Colobus monkeys feed on a wide variety of leaves. Most feeding takes place between early morning and midday, and again in the early evening.

Other Habits and Behaviors

Black and white colobus monkeys spend most of their time sitting in the tops of trees. However, when the trees are not densely packed, they will feed and travel on the ground.

Individuals take turns sleeping at night so that at least one monkey is awake at all times to watch for predators.

Scientific Classification

phylum Chordata
subphylum Vertebrata
class Mammalia
order Primates
family Cercopithecidae
subfamily Colobinae
genus & family Colobus guereza

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The Robinson Library >> Order Primates

This page was last updated on August 31, 2018.