Mandrills vs Baboons: 6 Key Differences Explained

Written by AZ Animals Staff
Published: January 2, 2022
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Mandrills (Mandrillus sphinx) and baboons (Papio) are both large primates who form complex social groups and are highly intelligent. These large, powerful monkeys both inhabit Africa, and they are both members of the Old World monkey family. They have many similarities, but they also have key differences that make their identification easy. For instance, mandrills are distinctive for their colorful fur, and they are the largest of all monkeys. Baboons are noted for their long, hairless muzzles and dense fur. What other similarities and differences do they share? Read on to learn the facts that compare mandrills vs baboons.

Comparing Mandrill vs. Baboon

MandrillBaboon
HabitatAfrican rainforestWoodland, savannah, rocky hills
ColorRed, blue, stripedBrown, gray or black
Number of species26
Name of groupHordeTroop
BehaviorShyAggressive
SizeWeigh 65 to 95 poundsWeigh 30 to 80 pounds

The 6 Key Differences Between Mandrills and Baboons

Habitat

Mandrills mostly inhabit the tropical forests and rainforest regions of Africa. They live in Gabon, the Republic of Congo, Cameroon, and Equatorial Guinea. They can live anywhere that has a dense population of trees and warm, wet weather. Baboons are widely distributed across Africa and parts of the Middle East. Baboons are well adapted for each habitat where they live. The chacma baboon, for instance, can live on a diet of just grass. It can also go without water for 11 days. These abilities allow it to survive in the arid desert regions of Africa.

Color

Color is the main key to identification when comparing these two primates. Baboons come in the normal colors that many monkeys come in. They usually have brown, gray, or black fur with large, hairless muzzles that resemble dog muzzles.

Mandrills, however, are the most colorful primate species and one of the most colorful animals in the world. Their fur is often multicolored. They have bright red or pink lips, blue muzzles, and dark green or gray fur. The fur on their rears is bright lavender, and they often have white bellies. Males are more colorful than females.

Number of Species

There are two mandrill species: the mandrill and the drill, which is a slightly smaller member of the same family. Both the mandrill and the drill were once classified as baboons in the genus Papio. In 1989, taxonomists moved them into their own genus, Mandrillus.

There are six baboon species:

  • Chacma baboon (Papio ursinus)
  • Western, red or Guinea baboon (Papio papio)
  • Hamadryas baboon (Papio hamadryas)
  • Olive baboon (Papio Anubis)
  • Kinda baboon (Papio kindae)
  • Yellow baboon (Papio cynocephalus)

Name of Group

Mandrills live in large, stable groups that can include hundreds of mandrills. The largest mandrill horde recorded had 1,300 members. It was living at Lope National Park in Gabon. Baboons live in large, hierarchical groups known as troops. These are headed by older males and include the female mates of the leader. Male baboons regularly fight off members of other troops who want to mate with their females, and the fighting can get aggressive.

Behavior

While mandrills and baboons share similarities in social behavior, their hunting behavior is quite different. Mandrills are shy, nocturnal creatures who prefer to stay hidden from view. They stay in their sheltered area during the day and hunt by night. Baboons, on the other hand, are aggressive about finding food. They are diurnal hunters and opportunistic feeders. Baboons will raid farms and homes looking for food, and some baboons will attack crops.

Size

As the largest member of the monkey family, the mandrill is larger than even the biggest baboon species. The mandrill is also the most sexually dysmorphic of the monkey species. Male mandrills can outweigh females by 30 or more pounds.

The average male mandrill weighs 65 to 95 pounds, and the average female weighs 55 to 65 pounds. Baboons vary in size depending on what type of baboon they are. The kinda baboon is the smallest of the species. It is less than two feet tall and weighs about 30 pounds. The largest species, the chacma baboon, is almost four feet tall and weighs more than 80 pounds.

Mandrills and Baboons: Two Separate Species

We hope you’ve enjoyed reading these facts about mandrills and baboons. If you need to make a quick identification, look for color, size, and behavior to tell them apart.

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