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Snow Monkeys

From Academic Kids

Japanese Macaque
Conservation status: Data deficient
Japanese Macaque
Scientific classification
Kingdom:Animalia
Phylum:Chordata
Class:Mammalia
Order:Primates
Family:Cercopithecidae
Genus:Macaca
Species:M. fuscata
Binomial name
Macaca fuscata
Blyth, 1875

The Japanese Macaque (Macaca fuscata), also known as the Snow Monkey, is a terrestrial monkey species native to northern Japan, although an introduced free-ranging population has been living near Laredo, Texas since 1972. They are said to be the most northern-living non-human primate. Japanese Macaques have brown to grey fur; a red face, hands and bottom; and a short tail.

Japanese Macaques are diurnal and spend the majority of their time in the trees. They live in a variety of forest-types, including subtropical to subalpine, deciduous, broadleaf and evergreen forests, below 1500 m. They feed on seeds, roots, buds, fruit, invertebrates, berries, leaves, birds eggs, fungi, bark and cereals. They have a body length ranging from 79 to 95 cm, with tail length approximately 10 cm. Males weigh from 10 to 14 kg, females, around 5.5 kg.

The Japanese Macaques at  hotspring in  have become famous for their winter visits to the spa.
Enlarge
The Japanese Macaques at Jigokudani hotspring in Nagano have become famous for their winter visits to the spa.

Japanese Macaques are the most northerly-living non-human primate, living in mountainous areas of Honshu, Japan. They survive winter temperatures below -15 °C, and are perhaps most famous for the amount of time they spend relaxing in naturally heated volcanic hot springs.

Missing image
Jigokudani_hotspring_in_Nagano_Japan_003.jpg
Jigokudani HotSpring in Nagano Prefecture,Japan

Japanese Macaques live in multi-male, multi-female groups, and on average, females outnumber males by 3.4 to 1. The females have a rigid hierarchy with infants inheriting their mother's rank. The males tend to be transient within the troop. After a gestation period of 173 days, females give birth to one young, which weighs about 500 g at birth. They have an average lifespan of 30 years.

Japanese Macaques are classified as Data Deficient by the 2000 IUCN Red List.

Japanese Macaques are highly intelligent. They are the only animals other than humans and raccoons that are known to wash their food before eating it. Researchers studying these monkeys left sweet potatoes out on the beach for them to feed on, they witnessed one female taking the food down to the sea to wash the sand away. After a while, other macaques started to copy her behaviour. This trait was then passed on from generation to generation, until eventually, all except the very old members of the troop were washing their food in the sea.

They are often the subject of Buddhist myths, and are thought to be the inspiration behind the saying "see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil."

There are two subspecies of this macaque:

  • Macaca fuscata fuscata
  • Macaca fuscata yakui
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