Green Gwenon

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Green Sea Cat / Cercopithecus aethiops / or Gwenon


Gwenons, or Sea Cats, are the cat-like monkeys of the Cercopithecus genus and the related Chlorocebus, Allenopithecus, Miopithecus and Erythrocebus. They are found in sub-Saharan Africa, as the most species have limited area and several local subspecies. The green sea cat also lives in the open savannah and on the fringes of forests. We can see it usually by the water. It sleeps in the branches of trees and bushes located by the water at night.

The name “Sea Cats” comes from the Dutch “meerkat” or the German “meerkatze”, which means “Sea Cat”. The probable reasons for their name are two: either they were likened to cats in addition to the fact that in the 16th century they became famous on ships as pets or the name comes from the Sanskrit word “markata” for “monkey”.

The male green cat is usually larger than the female. In the group of green sea cats, unlike other monkey species, there are more males. They compete for the leadership position in the herd, but the rank of a leader can easily be taken by another animal, as well as when the young males grow up.

With the glands located on the face, green sea cats leave typical scent marks by rubbing their face or chin in areas where the other animals later sniff. This is probably how they mark the boundaries of their territory, whose size depends on the amount of food available. The arms of the green sea cat are quite long compared to other monkey species – its arms help it to move with significant speed on the ground.



In nature, the green sea cat breeds at the earliest at the age of five. The time to reach sexual maturity can be shorter or longer depending on the abundance of food. Males and females become sexually mature at about the same age, but the male takes several more years before breeding until he gains a suitable place in the group hierarchy. After a successfully given birth, a baby is born, covered in fur from head to toes and with open eyes. It immediately attaches itself to its mother's belly, held by her hand for 1-2 hours.

During the first weeks, the mother devotes a lot of time to her baby, licking, cleaning, watching and nursing it. The baby stays with her until the birth of its next sibling, for about a year.

When the baby starts eating solid food, it suckles more seldom. At last, its weaning occurs, shortly before the next heir is born.


Food and nutrition

It loves fruit and leaves and all kinds of grains it can reach. Sometimes it eats insects, eggs, young birds and rodents. The young animal learns from its mother to distinguish the edible from the inedible parts of the food and to prepare it for consumption.