Guest Author - Joy Alari
The Japanese Macaque is an indigenous monkey, to many Islands in Japan especially Kyushu, Honshu and Shikoku but the Japanese Macaque is not your regular monkey because it can handle extreme temperatures, that is as low as four degrees!
Definitely earning it the name snow monkey, as other monkeys can’t stand cold temperatures, although the Japanese Macaque grows a thick winter fur coat, it would still need to huddle with the rest of the group, when the weather is very cold.
The habitat of the Japanese Macaque, ranges from subtropical forests to mountainous areas, which means that the Japanese Macaque can stay in both cold and warm temperatures, usually its inbetween and many have being introduced into the United States especially in Texas.
So if by chance you see a stocky medium sized monkey, that has a red or pinkish face, with brown gray fur and just a little stump of tail, then you’ve just met the famous Japanese Macaque.
Usually only the biggest and strongest male Macaque, can attain alpha status to dominate a group, which consists of 20 to 30 Macaques, this can be a handful keeping 'em in check but the alpha male, always has one or two deputies helping out. Japanese Macaque are very matrilineal, so any male can get alpha status, if its mother was a high ranking Macaque, or if a reigning alpha male leaves the group or dies. Its quite normal for males to leave and join other groups but this is usually before mating season, female Macaques on the other hand remain within her natal group for life.
The Japanese Macaque has a long life span, females can live for up to 32 years but sadly male Japanese Macaque, usually don’t survive past their 28th birthday.
The Japanese Macaque have mouth pouches to store food, they are quite omnivorous and can eat almost anything, its diet consists of fruits, leaves, seeds, nuts, insects and even fish, Japanese Macaque can dig up roots for food and when all else is scarce, has even being seen snacking on soil!
But the Japanese Macaque believes that cleanliness, is indeed next to godliness because even if the weather is hot or freezing cold, the Japanese Macaque would constantly be seen grooming each other, another totally amazing thing about the Japanese Macaque is that, it always washes its food before eating!
Japanese Macaque are semi-terrestrial, they can be seen leaping from tree to tree but the female Japanese Macaque, usually spends most of her time on the tree, while males prefer to stay on the ground below, Japanese Macaque are also excellent swimmers.
Mating for the Japanese Macaque, is from April to July and May to September, it is quite a unique spectacle because the male and female, engage in a sort of courtship ritual and even though its just for a day, they would both eat, travel and stay together. Mating greatly depends on the female, who would choose big and fit as well as strong males to couple with, she would emit “girl power sounds” like a squawk, squeak or high cooing sound, to signal to the male that she is ready. Gestation for the Japanese Macaque is between 5 or 6 months but its usually one baby at a time, also there is a strong maternal bond between mother and child, which lasts for the rest of their life.
For recreation the Japanese Macaque really likes to have fun, in the summer they enjoy bathing together, in winter they can be seen gamboling and rolling in the snow and playing with snowballs!
The Japanese Macaque is a constant feature in many Japanese Art, Religion, as well as folklores.
The natural enemies of the Japanese Macaque “besides man” are hawk eagles, mountain dogs and raccoons but man still remains the major threat, having encroached upon its natural habitat, thus forcing it to invade farmland for food, which inturn makes it a threat to farmers, who have killed thousands of this intelligent snow monkey.
Today, this intelligent monkey is slowly on the brink of extinction and its now on the list of endangered species.