Macaques, like monkeys in general, always evoke a storm of emotions. This is not surprising, because they so resemble a person, as if they are his cartoon image.
According to the statements of zoologists, monkeys by their behavior resemble the behavior of those people who see around. This is confirmed by the numerous stories of tourists about the behavior of animals , which is quite different on the beaches, in the mountains or elsewhere.
Japanese monkeys stand apart , look at which come from all over the world, and which have long been not only a rare, listed in the Red Book species of monkeys , but also one of the main attractions of Northern Japan.
Peculiarities and habitat of the Japanese macaque
These lovely monkeys are distinguished by increased curiosity, sociability, mischief and a desire to like. As soon as the Japanese macaque notices a photo — or a television camera, it immediately takes on an important look and starts busily dealing with its affairs.
There are cases when, noticing tourists, macaques “pose” in groups, take parades “baths” or play snowballs. After these actions, the animals do not forget to approach the people behind the gift, while maintaining the dignity of the true northern samurai.
The similarity with the «samurai of the North» is not limited to this. Like people, monkeys love to take baths in the hot volcanic springs of the island of Honshu, where tourists admire them.
There was an erroneous opinion that this population lives exclusively near the volcanoes of Honshu and comes from the same place. In fact, their historic homeland is the island of Yakushima (Kosima), and the natural area of distribution is all of Japan.
Snow Macaques , as tourist agents called them, live in all Japanese forests, from subtropics to highlands, throughout the country. The Japanese cherish the population as the biggest treasure of their country, officially recognizing these macaques as national treasure.
However, the area of distribution of animals is not entirely limited to Japan. In 1972, an incidental story happened — during transportation to the zoo, in the USA, namely in the state of Texas, a group of Japanese macaques escaped.
Apparently, the “illegal” immigrants liked everything, because in the forest part of the state, in natural conditions, a small population of this species still lives and thrives.
What attracts to the local camping is a huge number of tourists with children who want to spend a weekend not just in nature, but also in the company of these charming animals .
Also, Japanese snow monkeys live in zoos around the world, including in Moscow. Moreover, this is one of the few animals whose lifespan in captivity is several times higher than the number of years lived in the wild.
The nature and lifestyle of the Japanese macaque
Macaques are animals highly organized and very social, easily adapting to any living conditions, including climatic. Macaques live in large flocks consisting of several dozen families.
Moreover, the word “family” is not a conventional designation here, these animals have the concept of “marriage” and raising babies, and the male is also involved in this process. When tourists are touched, seeing a beautiful fluffy monkey with a baby on the back, they can easily observe not the mother, but the father of the little macaque.
However, the pack is very rigidly organized and the hierarchy is strictly observed. Moreover, none of the males disputes the right of the leader or leaves the flock. In addition to the leader solving all the tasks facing the community of macaques, there is something resembling the council of elders and even something similar to human kindergartens.
Possessing a calm and friendly character, these animals are not without curiosity and love to explore everything around them and adapt them for their own benefit.
Probably, this is precisely their quality that explains the fact that this population is the only species of macaques living in a climate with a temperature that falls to minus.
Pictures of how monkeys take baths, so pleasing tourists, in fact, have a simple explanation. Japanese macaque in the source is heated and displays the parasites from the fur.
The fact is that, in general, macaques do not tolerate a minus temperature, and when the thermometer drops below zero, they are saved together in water, which also has excellent antiparasitic properties due to its high sulfur content.
It is curious that while one part of the flock, including toddlers and elderly individuals, is located in a volcanic source, a small group of the most developed and healthy individuals is engaged in hunting food for all. This applies not only to the natural extraction of food, but also the collection of gifts from tourists and their sorting.
As for the sorting of gifts received from people, animals are very economic. Absolutely all the tourists have seen many times that Japanese macaques in the winter , which lasts four months in Honshu, make snowballs. However, the belief that monkeys play in them is wrong. In fact, the gifts received from people are sealed in the snow and stored in the reserve.
The Japanese macaque is omnivorous, but prefers plant food. In their natural habitat, macaques eat fruits and leaves of plants, dig roots, happy to regale eggs, eat the larvae of insects . Those who live closer to the northern territories or when climbing into mountains, macaques, “fish” — catching crayfish , other mollusks and, of course, fish .
In spite of quite strict prohibitions, people visiting the reserve often “treat” animals with everything that happens to be in their pockets — chocolate bars, cookies, burgers, french fries and chips. Macaques eat it all with great pleasure, and it has been repeatedly observed that adults give chocolate bars to kids.
In the Thai zoo, a specimen lives in the family of Japanese macaques, causing tourists to be delighted by eating hot dogs with a soda can. This monkey for a quarter of a century, and in spite of all the fears of the veterinary supervision of the zoo, the macaques are doing fine and daily increases donations in the fundraising box next to their relatives’ aviary, eating fast food for both cheeks.
Reproduction and life expectancy of the Japanese macaque
Due to the limited territory of residence, the absence of migration and the presence of stable family relations, the snow macaques have some extinction due to the large number of closely related «marriages» and the limited gene pool.
The life of a Japanese macaque on average is 20-30 years in natural conditions, but in zoos and reserves these animals live many times longer. For example, in the Los Angeles Zoo, the leader of the local macaque flock recently celebrated its 50th anniversary and was not going to “retire” at all.
This species does not have a certain time for mating, their “sexual” life is more like a human one. Females get pregnant differently and usually only give birth to one baby weighing about half a kilo.
In the event of the appearance of twins around the «mother» is going to the whole pack. The last birth in the family of monkeys «twins» was recorded a little more than 10 years ago in the reserve on the island of Honshu. The pregnancy of the female lasts for half a year and all this time the male cares for her very touchingly.
The snow macaques of Japan are the most amazing animals , in addition to high social development and intelligence, they are also very beautiful. The growth of males ranges from 80 cm to one meter, with a weight of 13-15 kg, and the females are more graceful — they are lower and lighter about two times.
Both those and others are covered with beautiful thick gray fur of various shades from dark to polar-snow. Watching these animals in nature reserves and zoos is always extremely interesting and brings people a lot of positive emotions.