African Baboons

Baboons are a species of Old World Monkeys that belong to Papio genus. Among the largest monkeys in the world, there are five distinct baboon species and they can be found throughout Africa, as well as Arabia.

While the color of the fur can vary depending on the species, all have very pronounced, dog-like muzzles and powerful, heavy jaws equipped with razor sharp canine teeth. The eyes are close-set and they have very thick fur with the exception of their muzzles, tails, and the rough spots seen on the buttocks. These spots are called ischial callosities and are hairless, nerveless skin pads that allow for comfort when the baboon sits.

Male baboons reach a body length of 20 to 34 inches with another 16 to 23 added for the tail. The average weight for males is 33 to 82 pounds. The main difference between males and females is in size (females being slightly smaller), but they sometimes have different coloration and canine development. Another characteristic that sets baboons apart is that like other types of Old World Monkeys, they lack prehensile tails.

Baboons are ground dwellers (terrestrial), they can, and do, however, climb trees to eat, sleep, and to watch for and escape predators. Their main predators are the Nile Crocodile, humans, lions, hyenas, and cheetahs. They are classified as omnivores because while they generally eat crops, grasses, fruit, roots, and bark, they also consume rodents, birds, and the occasional young antelope or sheep.

Baboons generally reside in hierarchical troops of between 5 and 250 animals. Troop size varies greatly depending on species, time of year and specific circumstances. The mating behavior of the baboon may vary greatly according to the troop’s social structure. In savannah baboons males can mate with whatever female they choose. Mating order is dependent in art on the social ranking of the male and fights are quite common.

The gestation period for baboons is generally 6 months, after which a single infant is typically born. Infants weight just around 14 ounces at birth and the females are the primary care givers. Often several females will cooperate in the care of all of their combined young and occasionally a male trying to gain favor with a particular female will help as well.

Young baboons are weaned at around 1 year and reach sexual maturity at 5 to 8 years old. Male offspring will leave the group, most often before they reach sexual maturity, while females will remain with the same family group throughout their lives.

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