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
The snow monkeys of Hell's Valley find the perfect winter resort.
Sixty degrees of separation in Japanese macaque society can mean that spa membership is key to survival. But if you weren't born with a silver spoon, there'll be no dipping for you in this exclusive hot tub club.
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
Population trend: Stable
Year assessed: 2008
Classified by: IUCN 3.1
The Japanese macaque (/məˈkɑːk/;Macaca fuscata), is a terrestrial Old World monkey species native to Japan. It is also sometimes known as the snow monkey because it lives in areas where snow covers the ground for months each year — no primate, with the exception of humans, is more northern-living, nor lives in a colder climate. Individuals have brown-grey fur, red faces, and short tails. There are two subspecies.
In Japan, the species is known as Nihonzaru (Nihon "Japan" + saru "monkey") to distinguish it from other primates, but the Japanese macaque is very familiar in Japan, so when Japanese people simply say saru, they usually have in mind the Japanese macaque.
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