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Bonnet macaque (Macaca radiata) Photograph By Shantanu Kuveskar.jpg
Bonnet macaque in Manegaon, Maharashtra, India
Scientific classification e
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Primates
Suborder: Haplorhini
Infraorder: Simiiformes
Family: Cercopithecidae
Tribe: Papionini
Genus: Macaca
Lacépède, 1799
Type species
Simia inuus [1]

See text

The macaques (/məˈkɑːk, -ˈkæk/)[2] constitute a genus (Macaca) of gregarious Old World monkeys of the subfamily Cercopithecinae. The 23 species of macaques inhabit ranges throughout Asia, North Africa, and (in one instance) Gibraltar. Macaques are principally frugivorous (preferring fruit), although their diet also includes seeds, leaves, flowers, and tree bark. Some species, such as the crab-eating macaque, subsist on a diet of invertebrates and occasionally small vertebrates. On average, southern pig-tailed macaques in Malaysia eat about 70 large rats each per year.[3][4] All macaque social groups are matriarchal, arranged around dominant females.[5]

Macaques are found in a variety of habitats throughout the Asian continent and are highly adaptable. Certain species have learned to live with humans and have become invasive in some human-settled environments, such as the island of Mauritius and Silver Springs State Park in Florida. Macaques can be a threat to wildlife conservation as well as to human well-being via carrying transmittable and fatal diseases. Currently, invasive species of macaques are handled with several control methods.


Aside from humans (genus Homo), the macaques are the most widespread primate genus, ranging from Japan to the Indian subcontinent, and in the case of the Barbary macaque (Macaca sylvanus), to North Africa and Southern Europe. Twenty-three macaque species are currently recognized. Macaques are robust primates whose arms and legs are about the same in length. The fur of these animals is typically varying shades of brown or black and their muzzles are rounded in profile with nostrils on the upper surface. The tail varies among each species, which can be long, moderate, short or totally absent.[6] Although several species lack tails, and their common names refer to them as apes, these are true monkeys, with no greater relationship to the true apes than any other Old World monkeys. Instead, this comes from an earlier definition of 'ape' that included primates generally.[7]

In some species, skin folds join the second through fifth toes, almost reaching the first metatarsal joint.[8] The monkey's size differs depending on sex and species. Males from all species can range from 41 to 70 cm (16 to 28 inches) in head and body length, and in weight from 5.5 to 18 kg (12.13 to 39.7 lb).[6] Females can range from a weight of 2.4 to 13 kg (5.3 to 28.7 lb). These primates live in troops that vary in size, where males dominate, however the rank order of dominance frequently shifts. Female ranking lasts longer and depends upon their genealogical position. Macaques are able to swim and spend most of their time on the ground, along with some time in trees. They have large pouches in their cheeks where they carry extra food. They are considered highly intelligent and are often used in the medical field for experimentation. Adults also are notorious for tending to be bad tempered.[6]

Distribution and habitat[edit]

Macaques are highly adaptable to different habitats and climates and can tolerate a wide fluctuation of temperatures and live in varying landscape settings. They easily adapt to human-built environments and can survive well in urban settings if they are able to steal food. They can also survive in completely natural settings absent of humans.

The ecological and geographic ranges of the macaque are the widest of any non-human primate. Their habitats include the tropical rainforests of Southeast Asia, Sri Lanka, India, arid mountains of Pakistan and Afghanistan, and temperate mountains in Algeria, Japan, northern China, Morocco, and Nepal. Some species also inhabit villages and towns in cities in Asia.[9]

Ecology and behavior[edit]


Macaques are mainly vegetarian, although some species have been observed feeding on insects. In natural habitats, they have been observed to consume certain parts of over one hundred species of plants including the buds, fruit, young leaves, bark, roots, and flowers. When macaques live amongst people, they raid agricultural crops such as wheat, rice, or sugarcane; and garden crops like tomatoes, bananas, melons, mangos, or papayas.[10] In human settings, they also rely heavily on direct handouts from people. This includes peanuts, rice, legumes, or even prepared food.

Group structure[edit]

Macaques live in established social groups that can range from a few individuals to several hundred, as they are social animals. A typical social group possess between 20 and 50 individuals of all ages and of both sexes. The typical composition consists of 15% adult males, 35% adult females, 20% infants, and 30% juveniles, though there exists variation in structure and size of groups across populations.[citation needed]

The premotor cortex of macaques is widely studied.[11]

Macaques have a very intricate social structure and hierarchy. If a macaque of a lower level in the social chain has eaten berries and none are left for a higher-ranking macaque, then the one higher in status can, within this social organization, remove the berries from the other monkey's mouth.[12]

Reproduction and mortality[edit]

The reproductive potential of each species differs. Populations of the rhesus macaque can grow at rates of 10% to 15% per year if the environmental conditions are favorable. However, some forest-dwelling species are endangered with much lower reproductive rates.[citation needed] After one year of age, macaques move from being dependent on their mother during infancy, to the juvenile stage, where they begin to associate more with other juveniles through rough tumble and playing activities. They sexually mature between three and five years of age. Females will usually stay with the social group in which they were born; however, young adult males tend to disperse and attempt to enter other social groups. Not all males succeed in joining other groups and may become solitary, attempting to join other social groups for many years.[citation needed] Macaques have a typical lifespan of 20 to 30 years.

As invasive species[edit]

M. fascicularis on a scooter at Ko Chang, Thailand

Certain species under the genus Macaca have become invasive in certain parts of the world, while others that survive in forest habitats remain threatened. The long-tailed macaque (M. fascicularis) is listed as a threat and invasive alien species in Mauritius, along with the rhesus macaques (M. mulatta) in Florida.[13]

The long-tailed macaque causes severe damage to parts of its range where it has been introduced because the populations grow unchecked due to a lack of predators.[14] On the island Mauritius, they have created serious conservation concerns for other endemic species. They consume seeds of native plants and aid in the spread of exotic weeds throughout the forests. This changes the composition of the habitats and allows them to be rapidly overrun by invasive plants.

Long-tailed macaques are also responsible for the near extinction of several bird species on Mauritius by destroying the nests of the birds as they move through their native ranges and eat the eggs of critically endangered species, such as the pink pigeon and Mauritian green parrot.[15] They can be serious agricultural pests because they raid crops and gardens and humans often shoot the monkeys which can eliminate entire local populations.

In Florida, a group of rhesus macaques inhabit Silver Springs State Park. Humans often feed them, which may alter their movement and keep them close to the river on weekends where high human traffic is present.[13] The monkeys can become aggressive toward humans, and also carry potentially fatal human diseases, including the herpes B virus.[16]

Relations with humans[edit]

Several species of macaque are used extensively in animal testing, particularly in the neuroscience of visual perception and the visual system.

Nearly all (73–100%) pet and captive rhesus macaques are carriers of the herpes B virus. This virus is harmless to macaques, but infections of humans, while rare, are potentially fatal, a risk that makes macaques unsuitable as pets.[17]

Urban performing macaques also carried simian foamy virus, suggesting they could be involved in the species-to-species jump of similar retroviruses to humans.[18]

Population control[edit]

Management techniques have historically been controversial, and public disapproval can hinder control efforts. Previously, efforts to remove macaque individuals were met with public resistance.[13] One management strategy that is currently being explored is that of sterilization. Natural resource managers are being educated by scientific studies in the proposed strategy. Effectiveness of this strategy is estimated to succeed in keeping populations in check. For example, if 80% of females are sterilized every five years, or 50% every two years, it could effectively reduce the population.[13] Other control strategies include planting specific trees to provide protection to native birds from macaque predation, live trapping, and the vaccine porcine zona pellucida (PZP), which causes infertility in females.[15]


In January 2018, scientists in China reported in the journal Cell the first creation of two crab-eating macaque clones, named Zhong Zhong and Hua Hua, using somatic cell nuclear transfer – the same method that produced Dolly the sheep.[19][20][21][22]


As of 2005, the authors of Mammal Species of the World recognized the following species and species groups, aside from the white-cheeked macaque, which was described in 2015.

Groups Image Common name Scientific name Distribution Conservation status
(IUCN Red List 2020)[23]
Barbary macaque group Macaca sylvanus.Mother and baby.jpg Barbary macaque M. sylvanus Algeria, Morocco, and Gibraltar EN
Southern pig-tailed macaque group Lion-tailed macaque canine.jpg Lion-tailed macaque M. silenus Western Ghats of South India EN
Cercopithecidae - Macaca nemastrina.jpg Southern pig-tailed macaque (also locally called beruk) M. nemestrina Southern Thailand, Malaysia, and Indonesia EN
Macaca leonina mother with baby - Khao Yai.jpg Northern pig-tailed macaque M. leonina Bangladesh, Cambodia, China, India, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand, and Vietnam VU
Beruk Mentawai Macaca pagensis.JPG Pagai Island macaque M. pagensis Sumatra, Indonesia CE
Siberut macaque M. siberu Siberut, Indonesia EN
Mâle macaque maure (Macaca maura).jpg Moor macaque M. maura Sulawesi, Indonesia EN
Booted macaque M. ochreata Sulawesi, Indonesia VU
Macaca tonkeana groupe.jpg Tonkean macaque M. tonkeana Central Sulawesi and the nearby Togian Islands in Indonesia VU
Heck's macaque M. hecki Sulawesi, Indonesia VU
Macaca nigra in captivity Tandurusa Zoo.JPG Gorontalo macaque M. nigrescens Sulawesi, Indonesia VU
Kuifmakaak (8721744168).jpg Celebes crested macaque M. nigra Sulawesi (Celebes) and Bacan Islands, Indonesia CE
Rhesus macaque group Davidraju img15(Macaca mulatta) Rhesus macaque.jpg Rhesus macaque M. mulatta South, Central, and Southeast Asia LC
Formosan macaque.jpg Formosan rock macaque M. cyclopis Taiwan LC
Japanese Snow Monkey (Macaque) Mother Grooms Her Young.jpg Japanese macaque (also called snow monkey) M. fuscata Japan LC
Crab-eating macaque group Ngarai Sianok sumatran monkey.jpg Crab-eating macaque (also called long-tailed macaque or cynomolgus monkey) M. fascicularis Southeast Asia VU
Stump tailed Macaque P1130751 24.jpg Stump-tailed macaque M. arctoides South China, India, Malaysia, Burma, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, and Vietnam VU
Toque macaque group Toque macaque (Macaca sinica) 05.jpg Toque macaque M. sinica Sri Lanka EN
Bonnet macaque (Macaca radiata) head.jpg Bonnet macaque (also called zati) M. radiata India VU
Assam-Makak 1670-2.jpg Assam macaque M. assamensis Bhutan; Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Sikkim, and Tripura in northeastern India; into northern Myanmar; and China NT
Male Tibetan Macaque.jpg Tibetan macaque M. thibetana Eastern Tibet, east to Guangdong and north to Shaanxi in China NT
Arunachal macaque from Bugun and Shertukpen forests around Eaglenest WLS.JPG Arunachal macaque M. munzala Arunachal Pradesh, northeastern India EN
Macaca leucogenys female.jpg White-cheeked macaque M. leucogenys[24] Southeastern Tibet and Arunachal Pradesh, northeastern India EN

Later studies disputed some of these species groupings. For example, Li et al., based on DNA testing, do not recognize the M. fascularis group. Rather, they place the crab-eating macaque within the M. mulatta group and the stump-tailed macaque within the M. sinica group.[25]

Prehistoric (fossil) species:

In Popular Culture[edit]

In the television show Leave it to Beaver (S3:E29), the plot features a pet Macaque named Stanley in a prominent role.


See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Groves, C. P. (2005). Wilson, D. E.; Reeder, D. M. (eds.). Mammal Species of the World: A Taxonomic and Geographic Reference (3rd ed.). Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press. pp. 161–165. ISBN 0-801-88221-4. OCLC 62265494.
  2. ^ "macaque". Lexico UK English Dictionary. Oxford University Press. Archived from the original on October 24, 2021.
  3. ^ Keach, Sean (October 22, 2019). "Rat-eating monkeys in Malaysia stun scientists". The Sun.
  4. ^ Guy, Jack (October 22, 2019). "Rat-eating macaques could boost palm oil sustainability in Malaysia". CNN.
  5. ^ Fleagle, John G. (8 March 2013). Primate Adaptation and Evolution. Academic. p. 123. ISBN 978-0-12-378633-3.
  6. ^ a b c "macaque | Classification & Facts". Encyclopedia Britannica. Retrieved 2018-07-02.
  7. ^ "ape, n." OED Online. Oxford University Press, March 2017. Web. 16 April 2017.
  8. ^ Ankel-Simons, Friderun (2000). "Hands and Feet". Primate anatomy: an introduction. Academic Press. p. 340. ISBN 978-0-12-058670-7.
  9. ^ Knight, John (August 1999). "Monkeys on the Move: The Natural Symbolism of People-Macaque Conflict in Japan". The Journal of Asian Studies. 58 (3): 622–647. doi:10.2307/2659114. ISSN 0021-9118.
  10. ^ "Primate Factsheets: Long-tailed macaque (Macaca fascicularis) Conservation". Retrieved 2018-07-02.
  11. ^ Boussaoud, D.; Tanné-Gariépy, J.; Wannier, T.; Rouiller, E. M. (2005). "Callosal connections of dorsal versus ventral premotor areas in the macaque monkey: A multiple retrograde tracing study". BMC Neuroscience. 6: 67. doi:10.1186/1471-2202-6-67. PMC 1314896. PMID 16309550.
  12. ^ David Attenborough (2003). The Life of Mammals. BBC Video.
  13. ^ a b c d "Mapping Macaques: Studying Florida's Non-Native Primates". UF/IFAS Wildlife Ecology and Conservation Department. 2016-12-20. Retrieved 2018-07-02.
  14. ^ "Primate Factsheets: Long-tailed macaque (Macaca fascicularis) Conservation". Retrieved 2018-07-02.
  15. ^ a b "GISD". Upane. Retrieved 2018-07-02.
  16. ^ Ostrowski, Stephanie (March 1998). "B-virus from Pet Macaque Monkeys: An Emerging Threat in the United States?". Emerging Infectious Diseases. 4 (1): 117–21. doi:10.3201/eid0401.980117. ISSN 1080-6040. PMC 2627675. PMID 9452406.
  17. ^ Ostrowski, Stephanie R.; et al. (1998). "B-virus from Pet Macaque Monkeys: an Emerging Threat in the United States?". Emerging Infectious Diseases. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). 4 (1): 117–121. doi:10.3201/eid0401.980117. PMC 2627675. PMID 9452406.
  18. ^ "News | University of Toronto". Archived from the original on March 22, 2006. Retrieved May 30, 2020.
  19. ^ Liu, Zhen; et al. (24 January 2018). "Cloning of Macaque Monkeys by Somatic Cell Nuclear Transfer". Cell. 172 (4): 881–887.e7. doi:10.1016/j.cell.2018.01.020. PMID 29395327.
  20. ^ Normile, Dennis (24 January 2018). "These monkey twins are the first primate clones made by the method that developed Dolly". Science. doi:10.1126/science.aat1066. Retrieved 24 January 2018.
  21. ^ Briggs, Helen (24 January 2018). "First monkey clones created in Chinese laboratory". BBC News. Retrieved 24 January 2018.
  22. ^ "Scientists Successfully Clone Monkeys; Are Humans Up Next?". The New York Times. Associated Press. 24 January 2018. Retrieved 24 January 2018.
  23. ^ "IUCN Red List of Threatened Species". Retrieved 2022-08-05.
  24. ^ Li, C.; Zhao, C.; Fan, P. (25 Mar 2015). "White-cheeked macaque (Macaca leucogenys): A new macaque species from Modog, southeastern Tibet". American Journal of Primatology. 77 (7): 753–66. doi:10.1002/ajp.22394. PMID 25809642. S2CID 31188818.
  25. ^ Li, Jing; et al. (2009). "Phylogeny of the macaques (Cercopithecidae: Macaca) based on Aluelements". Gene. 448 (2): 242–49. doi:10.1016/j.gene.2009.05.013. PMC 2783879. PMID 19497354.
  26. ^ Hartwig, Walter Carl (2002). The primate fossil record. Cambridge University Press. p. 273. ISBN 978-0-521-66315-1.

External links[edit]

Data related to Macaque at Wikispecies