Frequently Asked Questions
Q. Do Vervet Monkeys carry rabies?
A. No! Vervet Monkeys do not carry rabies.
In fact, there have been no recorded cases in South Africa of Vervet Monkeys with rabies. They are, like most other animals susceptible to it if they are bitten.
Q. Will Vervet Monkeys randomly attack and bite humans?
A. No! Vervet Monkeys do not randomly attack and bite humans.
When on the very rare occasion that a person is bitten by a Vervet Monkey, there are usually aggravating factors involved. The person bitten might, intentionally or unintentionally, have threatened the monkey in such a manner as to leave the monkey believing that the only way in which to avoid injury or even death is to “attack” in self defence.
Even then the “attack”, always a last resort, usually consists of a single, restrained, defensive bite which falls very far short of the severity of the offensive bites Vervet Monkeys inflict on other monkeys or even other animals who are aggressively attacking them.
Most reports concerning people allegedly bitten by a Vervet Monkey have failed to establish the facts surrounding the incident, thus perpetuating the disinformation that has people fearing “random attacks” by Vervet Monkeys.
Understanding who Vervet Monkeys actually are, why they are here, why they behave the way they do, what their behaviour means, and what to do or not to do in the presence of Vervet Monkeys, will almost guarantee that a person can share an incident-free existence with Vervet Monkeys.
Q. How do I, and my children, avoid the possibility of a negative interaction with Vervet Monkeys?
A. Don’t ever try to catch a Vervet or its baby. Monkeys see such behaviour as a direct threat!
Don’t even try to touch a Vervet or pull its tail. Monkeys see such behaviour as a direct threat!!
A Vervet is not easily cornered, but if this does happen accidentally, move calmly out of its way and allow it to “escape”. Just because there is a monkey in your house when you, or a child, walk in unexpectedly, does not mean that it is “cornered”.
Don’t tease, mimic or provoke a Vervet Monkey. Your behaviour could be considered a challenge. Monkeys threaten one another by means of aggressive body language and staring.
If you feel threatened by a Vervet, do not turn your back on it or try to run away, and DO NOT SCREAM!! Back away slowly whilst continuing to face it and then move to the side and around the monkey towards your original destination.
Don’t allow children with food into an area where Vervets are present. Monkeys are not shy to grab food from the hands of small or timid children.
Children should not be left unattended by an adult in situations where Vervet Monkeys are present.
Do not feed Vervets by hand or by throwing food to them, or from doors or windows, or on your verandah, etc. Check this website or consult Monkey Helpline for advice on feeding and feeding stations, because even if you don’t mind Vervets in your home or garden, they could still be a problem to your neighbours, who might resort to cruel and criminal measures such as shooting or poisoning.