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Natural Snow Monkey, Japanese Macaque – Facts Of Endangered Animal Species


The Japanese macaque is a terrestrial Old World monkey species native to Japan. They are also sometimes known as the snow monkey because they live in areas where snow covers the ground for months each year — no other non-human primate is more northern-living, nor lives in a colder climate. Individuals have brown-grey fur, red faces, and short tails. There are two subspecies.

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[caption id="attachment_16020" align="aligncenter" width="620"]YAMANOUCHI, JAPAN - JANUARY 08: (CHINA OUT, SOUTH KOREA OUT) Japanese Macaque monkeys groom each other and relax in a hot spring at the Jigokudani, or Hell's Valley Monkey Park on January 8, 2014 in Yamanouchi, Nagano, Japan. (Photo by The Asahi Shimbun via Getty Images) YAMANOUCHI, JAPAN – JANUARY 08: (CHINA OUT, SOUTH KOREA OUT) Japanese Macaque monkeys groom each other and relax in a hot spring at the Jigokudani, or Hell’s Valley Monkey Park on January 8, 2014 in Yamanouchi, Nagano, Japan. (Photo by The Asahi Shimbun via Getty Images)[/caption]

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The Japanese macaque is sexually dimorphic. Males weigh on average 11.3 kg (25 lb), while females average 8.4 kg (19 lb). The coat of the macaque is well-adapted to the cold and its thickness increases as temperatures decrease. The macaque can cope with temperatures as low as -20 °C (-4 °F).

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[caption id="attachment_16036" align="aligncenter" width="800"]Japanese macaque, commonly referred to as "snow monkeys", react next to an open-air hot spring bath, or "onsen" at the Jigokudani (Hell's Valley) Monkey Park in the town of Yamanouchi, Nagano prefecture on December 10, 2012. Some 160 of the monkeys inhabit the area and are a popular tourist draw. TOPSHOTS AFP PHOTO / KAZUHIRO NOGIKAZUHIRO NOGI/AFP/Getty Images Japanese macaque, commonly referred to as “snow monkeys”, react next to an open-air hot spring bath, or “onsen” at the Jigokudani (Hell’s Valley) Monkey Park in the town of Yamanouchi, Nagano prefecture on December 10, 2012. Some 160 of the monkeys inhabit the area and are a popular tourist draw. TOPSHOTS AFP PHOTO / KAZUHIRO NOGIKAZUHIRO NOGI/AFP/Getty Images[/caption]

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Macaques mostly move on all fours. They are semi-terrestrial, with females spending more time in the trees and males spending more time on the ground. Macaques are known to leap. They are also great swimmers and have been reported to swim over half a kilometer. The longevity for the macaque averages 6.3 years, (at least for females). However, they have been known to live much longer; males have lived up to 28 years and females up to 32 years.

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[caption id="attachment_16027" align="aligncenter" width="675"]A baby monkey eats an orange beside a hot bath at the Ueno Zoo in Tokyo December 22, 2005. Japanese macaque, or the snow monkey, in the zoo enjoyed the cold Tokyo winter in the Japanese custom of soaking in "yuzu" fruit baths to warm their bodies for good health. PP05120269 REUTERS/Toshiyuki Aizawa - RTR1BG69 A baby monkey eats an orange beside a hot bath at the Ueno Zoo in Tokyo December 22, 2005. Japanese macaque, or the snow monkey, in the zoo enjoyed the cold Tokyo winter in the Japanese custom of soaking in “yuzu” fruit baths to warm their bodies for good health. PP05120269 REUTERS/Toshiyuki Aizawa – RTR1BG69[/caption]

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Japanese macaques live in matrilineal societies, and females stay in their natal groups for life, while males move out before they are sexually mature. Macaque groups tend to contain multiple adults of both sexes. In addition, a macaque troop contains multiple matrilines.

Males within a group have a dominance hierarchy, with one male having alpha status. The dominance status of male macaques usually changes when a former alpha male leaves or dies. Other ways in which status changes is when an alpha male loses his rank or when a troop splits, leaving a new alpha position. The longer a male is in a troop, the higher his status is likely to be. Females also exist in a stable dominance hierarchy, and a female’s rank depends on her mother. Younger females tend to rank higher than their older siblings

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