7 Baboon Facts for Kids
Baboons have long dog like snouts and come in two different colors. They have very strong jaws and sharp canine teeth. They are olive in color or golden in color. There are 5 species of baboons. They live in both Arabia and Africa. Baboons do not have a tensile tail like other primates that they can use to hang from trees or handle things. The do have a tail that stands straight up and bends at the tip. The tail bends at a funny angle and can look broke but it is fine it is just the way they are built.
They are terrestrial animals which means that they live mostly on the ground but they do climb trees to sleep or for food. The males are considerably larger than the females. The males can weigh twice as much as the females.
The average male weighs around 75 lbs while the average female weighs in at about 40lbs. They can get as large as 100 lbs. They stand about 3 feet tall at their shoulder. Males and females look a lot alike except for their size and the fact that the males have a collar of long fur and females do not.
Baboons are opportunistic eaters. They are omnivores that eat both meat and vegetation. They are choosy eaters but not necessarily hunters. They will eat berries and leaves AND they will eat small animals that they come across. They eat fish, birds, insects and small mammals.
They also have adopted a taste for human food and will readily snatch some when they have the chance.
Baboons live in troops or groups that include around 50 members. There are more females in the troop than there are males. The males lead the group. The dominant males lead the way when the travel which they always do together. The middle of the troop is reserved for females and the young while the young males pull up the rear of the group.
The young males can hang around until they reach sexual maturation between the age of 5-8 when their fate is than decided by the females in the troop. Most of the young males will be send on their way but some can stay if they earn the right.
Young males earn their way into the hearts of the females by providing protection. Baboons have a very strict hierarchy. The alpha males, the leaders, are not very willing to give up their position in the troop and will fight to the death if necessary to protect their place in the troop.
Baboons are very territorial and mark their land. They usually do not accept new members into the troop without a fight. Visitors are not welcome. Other baboons from other troops may wander into their territory but they will not stay for too long without being confronted and having to deal with a fight on their hands.
They can be very vicious when they are protecting their territory and literally rip an intruder to pieces.
Baboons are considered some of the smartest animals on the planet because of the way they interact with each other and adapt to their environment. They have been observed using reason skills and even planning. They have a very strict social order and spend hours a day grooming each other. The grooming takes place during the hottest parts of the day and serves two purposes. One of course is to keep the bugs out of their fur and the other is a bonding experience. By pulling bugs out of each others fur they are “caring” for each other and providing a very valuable service to each other. It is how they get to know one another.
They are creatures of habit. They rise around the same time everyday, they travel together to find food, they stop to groom, than they all return to their sleeping spot around the same time everyday. This is how they live their lives, very ordered routine.
They have over 30 different sounds that they make to communicate. They can also shrug their shoulders to express themselves. They yawn when they are bored with a conversation and will use hand gestures as well to express themselves. They are very communicative with each other and use their language skills to relay information about intruders, danger, joy and to just convey ideas.
They grunt, screech, bark and growl in an attempt to be heard and understood.
The baboon can be preyed upon by all the big cats like lions and cheetahs. They also have to watch out for crocodiles as adults. Pythons are also a threat. The young are preyed upon by eagles and hyenas. They will defend each other unlike other animals that take off when one of them is attacked baboons will run toward the attacker and fight them off to rescue a member of the troop.
Baboons like all mammals have a gestation phase and give birth to their young. The gestation period is about 6 months. They can mate any time of the year but only mate once a year. They generally give birth to one baby at a time.
Mom will carry the baby close to her belly until the baby is old enough to hang on to her back. The baby will stay close by mom until they are about 6 months old, than they will take their place in the troop with other juveniles. Males will be assessed for worthiness and either remain with the troop or be sent off on their own.
Females stay with the troop for life. The males that are sent away will join another troop after a lengthy fight. While sending the males away may sound a bit cruel it is actually necessary to insure that the lines are not too closely related. Males usually assimilate into other troops slowly by making friends with a female.
Baboons enjoy a long life (by wild animal standards) of about 30 years in the wild and 45 years in captivity. Throughout their life time they can breed many times but usually stop breeding by the time they are 15 years old.
Baboons are more likely than other animals to interact with humans and because of their outgoing nature are viewed as pests in certain areas of Africa. They are actually more than pests in certain villages and towns that they live near. They have been well known to wander into the town or village and pretty much take what they want including valuable resources like food and pillaging crops.
Most of the time the problem is that the village or town has been erected in what was once the baboons territory. They move through the town or village like they own it and have a right to be there because they do. Unfortunately this has made them the target of angry villagers and led to hunting them. Some species are actually endangered because of the land encroachment (loss of habitat).
Conservation efforts have been underway to prevent future losses. It is the hope that through education and relocation practices that all the species of baboon will be around for a long time.