Primate Fact Sheet: Hamadryas Baboon

Hamadryas Baboon

Taxonomic Classification

 Family- Cercopithecidae

Genus- Papio

Species name- papio hamadryas

Common Name- hamadryas baboon

Physical Description:


–        Height – 61-76 cm

–        Weight – 16.9-25.1 kg


–        Height – 61-76 cm

–       Weight – 9.9-13.3 kg

Physical Description

–        Males are silver/grey in color and they have a long shoulder cape where as females are olive brown in color and they lack a mane or shoulder cape. The skin on their face and rump is pink in both sexes.

–       Brain Size – about 200 cc’s

–       Method of locomotion – Quadrupedally


 Classified as omnivores.

Herbivore Diet: fruits, leaves, flowers and seeds of the Acacia tree, semi desert plants (such as grewia) and desert shrubs.

Omnivore Diet: may prey on small invertebrates and hares when the opportunity arises.

Dietary Patterns: plant diet changes with the season. More plants are consumed during the rainy season.

Comparison: the diet of the hamadryas baboon is more specialized (fewer plants are consumed) than other species of baboons.

Social Organization

  • One troop usually includes around 100-200 baboons without any one individual leader,
    • are known to live in troops of up to 400
  • Social system is very complex and strict; one large group is usually made up of many subsidiary “bands” or “harems” ranging from 30 to 90 baboons; each of which is ruled by a male
  • Governing males can get very violent with their females for a small offense; this is most often done by biting females who lag behind the harem
  • Every male that governs his “harem” has the right to breed with his females
    • But some young males will attempt to take a young female from a harem and protect her until she is old enough to reproduce
  • Different troops will sometimes compete for the same territory; and when they battle/fight each other males will try to steal females away from the opposing troop
    • After such a fight lead males will punish any females that strayed from the troop


–        Seasonality – Breed throughout the year

–        Gestation length – 165-174 days

–        # of infants – 1

–        Interbirth Interval – 568 days

–        Age of Sexual Maturity – Females at 1514 days, males at 1762 days

Parental Care

  • Several studies report a decrease in the frequency by suckling bouts in older infants, accompanied by an increase in the length of an average bout especially during periods of intense weaning conflict.
  • Primates carry their infants on their bodies throughout the day. The riding period is virtually over after 1 to 1.5 years.
  • Infant/Father relationships usually lack extensive caretaking, but they often involve strong and enduring relationships.
  • Some male-infant relationships persist for at least 3 to 4 years. However, the father continues to protect their older juvenile.
  • Evidence of infanticide isn’t common among baboons, but it is found among chimpanzees, mountain gorillas, red howler monkeys, and gray langurs.


Hamadryas baboons exhibit three types of calls.

Two phase bark: a deep loud call exhibited by males to warn off predators, to show male/male aggression within a troop, or to signify arousal.

Rhythmic grunts: a low soft grunt emitted by all members of a troop except infants. Generally signifies friendly intentions.

Shrill bark: a single, explosive, sharp bark. Emitted by all in a troop except adult males and is used as an alarm signal related to sudden disturbances.

Visual Communcation

Social presenting: lowering the hindquarters as an act of submission to an adult male.

Staring: a threatening gesture in which the skin on the face pulls back, revealing a drastic change in color underneath the eyelids of the baboon.

Head bobbing: bobbing the head up and down as a threat display.

Tension yawning: an adult male will yawn, revealing the canines, when a rival baboon or troop approaches.

Teeth chattering: a male response to a female social presenting.

Tactile Communication

Social Grooming: when one baboon will pick lice or parasites off another’s coat. Generally between baboons of the same sex. 

Greeting: when meeting, baboons will rub their noses together in a friendly gesture.

Evidence of Culture

  • Some indications of teaching by encouragement, at least in the Old World Monkeys and apes.
  • A baboon mother takes a few steps away from her infant, pauses, and looks back at it, encouraging it to move toward her.
  • Hamadryas baboons can manipulate objects relatively frequently and have evolved the capacity to perform patterns that could be used as learned signals.
  • Vocalization is made known by a series of grunting calls and other calls like a loud bark.
  • Among unrelated male Hamadryas baboon, evidence for reciprocal support in alliances. Even male had a favorite alliance partner, whom he supported more than any other individual.
  • Males from the same clan, travel and rest together and also occasionally groom each other.
  • Intergroup interactions of Hamadryas baboons present a complex and intriguing problem because their multileveled society makes it difficult to define the group.



Works Cited

Swedell, L., G. Hailemeskel, and A. Schreier. “Composition and Seasonality of Diet in Wild Hamadryas Baboons: Preliminary Findings from Filoha. ” Folia Primatologica  79.6 (2008): 476-490. ProQuest Psychology Journals, ProQuest. Web.  6 Feb. 2011.

 Richardson, Matthew. “ARKive – Hamadryas Baboon Videos, Photos and Facts – Papio Hamadryas.” ARKive – Discover the World’s Most Endangered Species. 12 Dec. 2009. Web. 05 Feb. 2011.

Sanders, Julian. “Hamadryas Baboons.” Baboons Online. Filoha, 11 May 2010. Web. 5 Feb. 2011.

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