Schmidt's red-tailed monkey

Class: Mammalia
Order: Primates
Family: Cercopithecidae
Genus and Species: Cercopithecus ascanius schmidti
Share this page:

The Schmidt’s red-tailed monkey — also called the black-cheeked white-nosed monkey, red-tailed guenon or Schmidt's guenon — is a small guenon characterized by a distinctive white or yellow nose, white cheeks and a long, red tail. These monkeys are native to central Africa and are threatened by hunting and deforestation.  

Physical Description

The Schmidt's red-tailed monkey is a small guenon with a white or yellow nose, white cheeks and a long tail. Their fur is brown, black and gray, and the underside of their tail is red, giving them their name.

To aid in foraging, Schmidt's red-tailed monkeys have large cheek pouches that store almost as much food as their stomachs. They can pack food into these pouches and quickly move to another location to safely consume it away from other individuals that may try to steal their food.


Their body lengths range between 12 and 24 inches (30.5 and 61 centimeters), with males slightly larger than females. Tails can reach lengths of 35 inches (89 centimeters). Adult males weigh roughly 7-10 pounds (3.1-4.5 kilograms), and adult females weigh between 6 and 8 pounds (2.7 and 3.6 kilograms).

Native Habitat

Schmidt's red-tailed monkeys are native to central Africa east of the Lualaba River in Democratic Republic of the Congo, Uganda, Rwanda, Tanzania and Kenya. Their range also extends north to Central African Republic and South Sudan. These monkeys live in a variety of primary and secondary tropical, swamp, mountain and lowland forest.


Communication includes the use of gestures, tail flicks and a wide range of vocalizations, including chirps, croaks and alarm calls.

Food/Eating Habits

Schmidt's red-tailed monkeys are primarily frugivores (fruit-eaters). In seasons where fruit is less abundant, they will also eat leaves, flowers, insects and gum from trees.

At the Smithsonian's National Zoo, they eat a primate biscuit supplemented with vegetables, greens, fruit and a small amount of root vegetables.

Social Structure

These arboreal guenons live at elevations of 1,300-8,200 feet (400-2,500 meters) in groups of 20 to 30. They typically live in hierarchical, male-dominant social groups with one male and multiple females, though bachelor troops of juvenile males may also form after juveniles have left their family groups. Males emigrate from their birth groups.

Reproduction and Development

Gestation for these monkeys is five to six months, and they tend to give birth to a single baby. As with other guenon species, females are the primary care givers, though other females in the group may assist. Schmidt's red-tailed monkeys breed throughout the entire year.

Sleep Habits

These monkeys are diurnal, meaning they are active during the daytime and sleep at night.


The life span of the Schmidt's is estimated to be about 28 years.

Schmidt's red-tailed monkeys are a species of least concern. Their primary threats include hunting and deforestation.

Help this Species
  • Be a smart consumer. Choose products made with sustainable ingredients, such as Smithsonian certified Bird Friendly coffees, which support farmers striving to limit their impact on wildlife and habitat.
  • Share the story of this animal with others. Simply raising awareness about this species can contribute to its overall protection.
  • Less is more. Cut down on the demand for resources by consuming less. Buy only what you need, and look for pre-owned or repurposed items before purchasing something brand new.
Science at Work Help This Species