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Japanese Macaque

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When you think of primates, you probably think of tropical environments, or at least warm weather climates. Such is not always the case for the Japanese Macaque, the northernmost non-human primate in the entire world. They inhabit three of the four large islands of Japan, (all but Hokkaido) and not only do they live far north latitude-wise, but they also live in elevations of up to 9,600 feet. Of course, it should be noted that in the lower elevation, southern areas of their range, the temperatures do get to be sub-tropical. But other population live in absolutely frigid conditions, making the climate range of the population as a whole very diverse.

Even though their tails are very short, Japanese Macaques (Macaca fuscata) are classified as monkeys. In fact, one of their other common names is "Snow Monkey." In the winter months, the cold-weather Macaques save energy by moving less and sunning themselves. Some tribes even locate hot springs in order to stay warm, though the monkeys are very picky about who gets to bath and where. They live in very rigid, hierarchical communities that can number up to 100 individuals.

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One really interesting tidbit about these communities is that they pass information along between their members. It is by this spreading of information that hot springs where discovered as a source of warmth. One notable Macaque, a female named Imo, learned how to clean and flavor sweet potatoes in salt water, and passed that information along as well. Young Macaques have even learned how to roll snowballs, a behavior that servers no purpose other than for having fun.

Japanese Macaques are diurnal and omnivorous. They are known to consume 213 species of plant, making them very non-picky eaters. Macaques themselves are preyed upon by Feral Dogs, Raptors, and Raccoon Dogs. While the monkeys have been killed by humans, they are listed as being of Least Concern with a stable population trend.


  1. Just watched a show on the science channel about these monkeys..their pretty bad ass


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