Japanese Macaque

Scientific name: Macaca fuscata

PHYSICAL DESCRIPTION: Medium-sized monkey. Male Ht. 60cm., Wt. 8.3-18 kg. The females are usually slightly smaller than the males. Coat: Thick and furry ranging in color from gray to burnt amber. Skin: Exposed areas of the face and collous buttock pads are red. They travel quadrapedally. Longevity: 30 or more years.

GEOGRAPHIC LOCATION: Japan, on the islands of Honshu, Shikoku, Kyushu and Takeshima. They also live on the Shimokito Peninsula at the northern end of Honshu, this is the northern most habitat in the world of any primate. Not only are they the northern most species, but they are also the only species of primate in Japan.

ECOLOGY: Arboreal and terrestrial. Live inn mountainous, broad-leafed forests. Home Range: .8-26.7 sq.km depending on the size of the island, peninsula, or mountain they are living on. These home ranges sometimes overlap and their population ranges from 10,000- 100,000.

DIET: Fruits, nuts, foliage, seeds, insects, berries.

SOCIAL ORGANIZATION: Diurnal. Troop size ranges from 20-150 individuals and in one case reached a total of 660. There is usually one male to every 4 females. They are matrilineal, this means the males emigrate but the females remain with their birth group. There is a dominant male, called the "alpha" male, that leads the group. He is followed by subleader males and then by the females which in turn are followed by the remainder of the males.

INTELLIGENCE: Excellent learning abilities and can incorporate learned activities into routine; have the ability to use tools.

REPRODUCTION: Birth seasons vary from November-February in the southern regions and from October-December in the northern regions. Males become sexually mature at 6 years and females at 4 years. Gestation Period: 5-6 months. No estrus swellings. Litter size: 1. Interbirth interval: 2 years. Infant birth weight: 17.8 ounces (500 g).

PARENTAL CARE: Primarily the females take care of the young. Males have strong ties with the young and are there to protect the offspring. Weaning: 6 months. Sometimes males and females will care for another mother's young.

TOPICS OF SPECIAL INTEREST: Extremely intelligent: an example of this intelligence was made in an observation when one macaque began to wash sweet potatoes to get dirt off and also dropped wheat into the water to separate it from sand (finding our that the sand would sink and the wheat would float); eventually the others followed and it became routine. The Japanese macaques also have "coo" calls which are understood only by this species. They have different variations of this call for different social situations. Japanese macaques also have a very interesting and complex social structure and are often found huddling together to keep warrn of in hot springs.


Asquith, Pamela and Linda Marie Fedigan. The Monkeys of Arashiyama. SUNY Press. 199 1. Encyclopedia of Japan. Volume 5. 1983.

Grzimek's Encyclopedia-Mammals. Volume 2. Magraw Hill Publishing, 1989.

Internet 1997. http://www.wcco.com/community/mnzoo/macaque.html

Jolly, Alison. The Evolution of Primate Behavior. 2nd ed. Macmillan Publishing Co. 1985.

Quaitt, Duane and Vernon Reynolds. Primate Behavior. Cambrid%te University Press. 1993.

Walker's Mammals of the World. 4th ed. Volume 1. John Hopkins University Press. 1983.

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