Female Japanese macaques sit in a hot spring to keep warm

Japanese macaque

Japanese macaques are the most northerly-living non-human primates. In the forested and mountainous, region of Japan where they're found, some populations have been known to bathe in hot springs during the freezing winters and swim during the sweltering summer heat. Japanese macaques have become famous for washing their food in saltwater before they eat it, both cleaning it and enhancing the taste. This skill has spread through the population and down the generations. For fun these macaques make snowballs, just like us.

Scientific name: Macaca fuscata

Rank: Species

Common names:

Snow monkey

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Map showing the distribution of the Japanese macaque taxa

Species range provided by WWF's Wildfinder.

The Japanese macaque can be found in a number of locations including: Asia. Find out more about these places and what else lives there.


The following habitats are found across the Japanese macaque distribution range. Find out more about these environments, what it takes to live there and what else inhabits them.


Discover what these behaviours are and how different plants and animals use them.

Additional data source: Animal Diversity Web

Conservation Status

Least Concern

  1. EX - Extinct
  2. EW
  3. CR - Threatened
  4. EN - Threatened
  5. VU - Threatened
  6. NT
  7. LC - Least concern

Population trend: Stable

Year assessed: 2008

Classified by: IUCN 3.1

BBC News about Japanese macaque

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